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Avnet launches vertically-focused SolutionsPath service

The new strategic consulting service targets five data centre-specific markets

Distributor Avnet Technology Solutions (NYSE: AVT) has been creating blueprint guides called SolutionsPath since 2006. Its latest SolutionsPath has a little bit of twist as it will be an engagement service focused on data centers that will cover off not one vertical market, but five.

Those vertical markets are energy, banking, government, healthcare, and retail. The business model for this SolutionsPath is a simple one, according to Gavin Miller, the vice-president of solution development and marketing at Avnet: help solution providers design, sell, and deliver data centre solutions to high-growth markets. Miller added Avnet has identified these five vertical markets as growth areas, but the engagement service is applicable to any market segment. The model works on a 12-month timeline and includes business analytics, strategic planning, training, and demand creation. The first three months will focus on analytics and strategic planning, then the training component kicks in which last throughout the year. After six months, Avnet creates demand and begins service implementation. The plan is reviewed and adjusted quarterly, if necessary.

Avnet Canada president Brian Aebig told CDN that the new SolutionsPath service is about 80 per cent ready for this market.

“Canadian partners have participated in all of the SolutionsPath available in the U.S., we just haven’t yet Canadianized them (all). The business of healthcare, for example, and government, is a little different in Canada than the U.S.,” Aebig said.

Speed to market is another factor for this new SolutionsPath. Miller said the SolutionsPath methodology has been proven over time. The SolutionsPath tools, training, and programs help solution providers enter new markets faster and with less cost. Avnet will also open up its technical data centre services (a staff of 50) to channel partners, along with professional services resources and logistics centre. This new SolutionsPath engagement service does come with a cost, Miller said. He would not provide the exact amount.

This new service also comes with a marketing component. Avnet will create marketing plans specifically around entering new markets and building a strong pipeline for solution providers. The marketing team last year generated more than 14,500 qualified leads with an average return on investment ratio of 30:1, Miller said.

“This SolutionsPath is like a New Year’s resolution for 2012. It’s very similar to joining a gym class. The partner signs up and gets a personal trainer and that trainer has access to a nutritionist and they can push them and point them in the right direction. At the end of the day, they still have to do all the work,” Miller said.

Miller added Avnet is seeing a dramatic shift in the solution provider channel. More resellers are becoming specialists. For example, there are plenty of data back-up solutions for healthcare but some successful solution providers are providing a unique back-up method for large images.

“You don’t talk about back-up but how you solve the large image problem,” Miller said.

The recent Government of Canada procurement reforms have created some issues for Avnet with its new government specific SolutionsPath enablement service. Aebig told CDN he’s optimistic about the current government year buying period and that he is working in partnership with government authorities to help them in this time of transition.

“This is the biggest transformational change in the Canadian government. We are a big part of that transition and we’re going to help solution providers in the change and look out for them. We have their best interests (at heart) and we want to maximize their returns,” Aebig said.

The new SolutionsPath service will have answers for Public Works and Government Services Canada along with Shared Services Canada. Aebig said it’s his job to bring those components to the reseller community for the long term.

He added that Shared Services is learning, just like everyone else is.

“This is a big learning experience for them as well as for Avnet Canada and for all others involved.”