Tech Data Canada announced last week that it has inked a new distribution agreement with networking vendor Avaya to deliver the complete line of products from the enterprise communications systems vendor.
As a result of the distribution agreement, Tech Data Canada is now an Avaya Connect Value-Added Distributor and will also provide support to authorized Avaya channel partners.
Rick Reid, president of Tech Data Canada, said the distribution agreement with Avaya is an “exciting” one since the distributor can now delve deeper into the unified communications contact centre and data networking solutions space.
“We’re excited because in advance of the Avaya acquisition of Nortel, we had a large practice with both Nortel voice and Nortel data,” Reid said. “So (now) we get to maintain (that) and also move into the Avaya space as well. We’ll continue to work with our reseller partners and we’ll also have access to the incremental Avaya customers that we didn’t have access to before.”
The distributor also kicked off its third annual Business Builder Tour event with its first stop in Toronto last week. Throughout the year, the tour will also make stops in Quebec City, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver, wrapping-up in Ottawa on December 8, 2010.
CDN had the opportunity to sit down with Reid and Greg Myers, Tech Data Canada’s vice-president of marketing, to discuss some of the trends they’re seeing in the marketplace, key solution focus areas, and objectives for the rest of the year.
Below is an edited transcript.
CDN: Could you give me a brief overview of Tech Data’s business last year and your outlook for 2010?
Rick Reid: We had a bit of a dip last year caused primarily because of the recession felt throughout the U.S. — they went into it a little earlier and deeper than we did. It didn’t happen as deep here in Canada, but we had a down year. But the good news is the vendors we deal with, it sounds like in general, their business was down 15 to 18 per cent year over year and our volumes didn’t drop nearly to that extent. We were quite pleased that we were able to hang onto some market share and in some areas. We’re optimistic for this fiscal year. We just completed our first quarter and the vendor community is optimistic that we’re starting to see a comeback. We’re not going to see the results from 2008, at least not this year, but I’m anticipating that the first half this year will be better than the first half last year and we’ll see more of a turnaround in the last half.
Greg Myers: There are a number of significant plays that are emerging in the marketplace right now. The economic environment is one of the catalysts for demand for IT products, but the technology is as well. With the launch last fall of Windows 7 and the soon to come release of Office 2010, the desktop refresh is underway in the marketplace. The evolution of IP-enabled phone systems, the emergence of the cloud — all of these technologies are driving increased value propositions for end-customers, which will drive demand in the marketplace.
CDN: What are some of the key themes to come out of this year’s Business Builder Tour?
R.R.: We’ve always been very strong from the product perspective in the server, storage, software, networking communities and this is the first of six (tour) stops across Canada.
CDN: Tell me about Tech Data’s Advanced Infrastructure Solutions Division, previously called the Storage and Server Business Unit). How has that division evolved, and why the name change?
G.M.: The demand for server, storage technology and management software tools required to manage that environment is really exploding, so the converged infrastructure play is becoming a big opportunity in the marketplace. As we adapt to the changes in the marketplace related to the technology and the way that the technology’s acquired, the resources we have and the specialized technical resources in particular, those requirements continue to grow. So our organization has grown to reflect those changes in the marketplace.
CDN: What are Tech Data’s top objectives for this year?
R.R.: From a product perspective, I’d keep referring to servers, software, storage and networking. We have a secret gem in our logistics capability and our configuration ability in the back of our logistics centre both here and in the West in Richmond, B.C. Increasingly, our customers are recognizing us as one of the best places to go to have configuration work on the systems they’ve purchased before they end up at end-user accounts. Our business through our configuration centres and logistics facilities here in Canada doubled in the last year. So even though volumes may be down year over year as a result of the recession, our business through that facility is up. So a key focus area for us is to become more entangled with our customers now that they recognize the value we can bring to them through our configuration centres.
CDN: The tour this year includes six cities. Are there plans to add more stops as this annual event grows?
R.R.: We added some incremental cities this year and we’ve taken a mini version of this to other parts of the country as well. Halifax isn’t as big as Toronto, but we’re still taking the show there (with Lobsterfest).
G.M.: Part of the reason is that resellers in those marketplaces don’t have the opportunity to engage as often with vendors. I think vendors have an increased challenge getting out to those secondary markets on a regular basis. Resources are constrained across the channel, so vendors look to distributors such as Tech Data to represent their message in local markets.
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