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CompTIA event draws VARs

System builders got the opportunity to not only network with vendors but engage in discussions about emerging trends and technologies that will improve their business and increase profitability

CompTIA’s sixth annual system builder conference, held in Montreal last month, had a successful turnout, with 65 Canadian system builders and over 40 vendors registered.

The three-day event started with a general session by The VAR School of Business, a consultation service for VARs with a focus on improving business practices.

Educational programs included a panel discussion on the future of storage technologies, a presentation by CompTIA on profiting from services and several keynote addresses from vendors like AMD, Intel, CDI, ATI and Seagate.

Storage technologies
One of the most popular panels was hosted by Peter Diniz, vice-president and general manager of Bell Microproducts Canada and dealt with the future of storage technology.

Joni Clark, product manager for desktop technology at Seagate, told the audience to prepare their businesses for the digital lifestyle wave.

“I envision beyond three years we walk into our house and automatically the radio turns on because of a pen you’re wearing,” she said.

“People are thinking that way and from a storage perspective you all are going to be building the equipment that houses this information.”

Willie Evans, head of Americas sales for Hitachi Global Storage, said that new technologies in this space will allow system builders to go outside the white box arena.

“Backup and archiving for SMBs and specialized markets will be very competitive. Come up with your own solutions and it’ll be very profitable,” he said.

During his keynote, Saar Pikar, senior vice-president and general manager of CDI Canada, demonstrated how system builders can maximize sales and margin opportunities in the refurbished hardware space.

“It’s a $9 billion industry,” he said. “Seventy-seven percent of Fortune 1,000 companies buy second hand.” In terms of potential, Pikar said refurbished brand name sales can garner an average of 22 per cent margin compared to white boxes, which are at about 12 per cent.

Go home
David Allen, director of distribution sales in North America for Intel, spoke of the advantanges that system builders have in the digital home space.

During his keynote Allen said resellers have the opportunity to reach homes by selling services directly or partnering with a home integrator.

“You can offer a solution and service that OEMs can’t. The local support and hand holding will enable system builders,” he said.

“Volume and margin is higher than standard desktops, and behind the scene we’re getting more vendors and services behind this.”

New channel program
Brother Canada said it released its first channel program in two years to better communicate with its 4,000 plus partners across the country.

Partner communications “has always been a challenge,” John Robertson, commercial division manager distribution/I.S. for Brother Canada, based in Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Que., said in an interview.

The goal of the new program is to provide timely information to a wide range of partners including direct marketing resellers, VARs, system integrators, system builders or computer retailers, Robertson said.

Called Brother Canada’s Reseller Partnerships Program, it will be able to work with distributor incentive programs. The company has 12 inside sales reps for the channel to use daily.

“Today we are in the digital age and getting back to people or getting answers from a Web site
FAQ (isn’t enough),” said Robertson. The extra support is critical.”

He hopes this new program will increase reseller profitability. Currently, the margins on the product are between 10 to 12 points.

Supplies are hovering around the 25 per cent mark, while warranties are upwards of 80 to 90 per cent.