2 min read

IT labels and categorizations

The industry has a need to put companies in a pot and call them something. If they do not fit in any of the usual categories they create one for them

The channel and the IT industry get too absorbed over labels, feeling it necessary to place a vendor or a reseller into a category.After that, the label or category gets its own acronym.

Take for example this issue’s feature report on managed services. CDN has profiled five of the top managed services players in the industry. They have been labeled and categorized for your consumption. The managed service providers, or MSPs, have also categorized and labeled its offerings for the channel as well.

So a solution provider interested in managed services can pick and choose which offering will be right for them and their customers. If they want something different they may need to look elsewhere.

Mark Scott, former N-Able Technologies founder, who is now with the Utility Computer Co., thought this was a problem when he was at N-Able. In a way, he started the Utility Co. to try something different by offering hardware services plus other things. He does not want to be labeled or categorized as a managed services provider. But what is he? The channel and the rest of the computer industry want to know. So he has been labeled a Hardware-as-a-service (HaaS) provider.

Now, HaaS is a new term, which is the same as SaaS (software-as-a-service), just that instead of offering software applications these providers offer hardware as well.

You see, even if someone tries to be different eventually we as an industry dump him or her into a pot and call it something.

You can’t just be a reseller anymore either. You are either a full-service reseller or a retailer. Can you do both? Sure, there is no law against, but if you do you can be sure the industry will say XYZ retailer has now become XYZ full-service reseller.

A distributor can’t just be a distributor. There are broadline distributors such as Ingram Micro and Tech Data. There are specialty distributors such as Interwork and if you can’t fit into those we have value-added distributor or boutique distributor.

I am glad that a lot of the old labels such as VAR and systems integrator are going by the wayside. Solution provider is a much better term and really cuts out a lot of the segmentation. A lot of the time a systems integrator was a VAR that did bigger deals.

For an industry that loves to label everything they really do not mean much. If a retailer can solve a SOHO business’s information techology problem with hardware and software provided by a distributor than really who cares what that company is called.

I think it is the analytical nature of the computer industry that really makes labeling and categorizing so important.

The only vendor that goes against this is Apple. Their products are not named with a traditional letter/number naming convention. Their channel is still referred to as Apple dealers. They never changed labels; instead, they think differently.