Meeting Customer Needs

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print

New CEO Thomas Richards unveils aggressive plans to push into IT services.


Building and maintaining customer relationships are essential to resellers. As Richards says: "If we had to solve an IT problem that required us to get 1,000 notebooks and asset tags, I don’t look at that as a reseller, but as somebody who could solve a problem for a customer. We have been—and still are—in the solutions business, whether it’s virtualization, audits or implementations."

Basically, Richards describes it as being in the position to provide whatever the customer needs. Kent State University is a prime example.

Though it was a customer of Berbee before CDW acquired that company, Kent State remains with CDW. CDW/Berbee, which has been managing that infrastructure for about five years, manages 6,000 Microsoft Exchange seats for the university, as well as the servers that run mission-critical operational tasks, such as payroll, human resources and student registration.

Kent State CIO Ed Mahon, who has visited CDW’s headquarters and data centers, has been impressed with the company’s execution. "We’ve built a system that is very reliable; it hardly ever goes down," he said. "When it does [go down], they are very quick at getting us back up and running."

Mahon, an advocate of cloud computing, wrote an article on alternative sourcing strategies for EDUCAUSE Review Magazine this past summer. In it, he pointed out that outsourcing day-to-day IT services frees up internal IT staff to focus on more strategic work such as development.

Mahon is now talking to CDW about deepening their engagement to achieve just that. "We are looking at the managed PC environment," he said. "It’s a way to drive down the total cost of ownership of providing PCs to staff.

"Today, we might purchase a computer and have someone spend a few hours configuring it. But CDW has automated the process. [The PC is] configured at the factory and automated with management integrated in the PC."

That’s the kind of valuable solution Richards is promoting. "We’re here to help customers take advantage of these great efficiencies, but implement them in a way that doesn’t drive their organizational cost structure significantly higher," he said.

Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com