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No reseller is an island

Avnet launches a services program to help its resellers augment their resources

In today’s world, no reseller can do it alone – at least not in any cost-effective manner. More and more, resellers are partnering with other channel companies to deliver total solutions and augment their staff.

According to Gartner, partnering services revenue is expected to grow significantly, accounting for at least 50 per cent of mid-size VARs’ revenues worldwide by the end of 2010. And, the research firm says, collaboration networks provide an ecosystem to foster partner-to-partner collaboration, resulting in further business reach and geographic coverage.

Avnet is the latest distributor to launch a services program that will allow resellers to augment their resources when they don’t have the time or expertise to complete a project on their own.

The OneTech Connect program includes a network of IT service companies for resellers who need help with implementation, consulting, integration, support or managed services. (OneTech was the name of Access Distribution’s services offering, which Avnet acquired.)

This will allow Avnet to more effectively compete with Arrow Electronics, which launched its Engineer Exchange program back in 2005. This program allows technicians to work for other resellers on an as-needed basis.

Tech Data, for its part, offers its TechSelect TechSource professional services, and Ingram Micro’s Service Network hooks up partners with other partners. The IMSN includes everything from case tracking to regulation of its users through report cards.Ingram’s model has been a popular one with resellers. Avnet, however, is taking a different approach by playing a direct role rather than facilitating partnerships among its reseller customers.

Avnet says its approved partners will provide quality control, which “reduces the risks by establishing and enforcing clear rules of engagement.” Avnet will handle the contractual obligations for both partners, provide project management expertise and monitor the delivery quality of the services.

The goal, the distie says, is to speed time to market for service offerings, while mitigating the costs and risks associated with partner-to-partner activities.

While some agree that partner-to-partner collaboration can be challenging – particularly because they are, in the end, competitors – others disagree. The issue is whether resellers prefer working with a partner of their choice, perhaps someone they’ve worked with in the past, or with one that is chosen for them by a distributor.

In some cases, this will be an easy way to ensure quality control. But other resellers may not want a partnership imposed upon them.

Whether Avnet’s model will prove more successful than Ingram’s will depend, ultimately, on resellers – and how much of a role they want their distributors to play.