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The last thing VARs, especially smaller shops like Lighthouse Computer Services, want to spend time on is updating information and listings of hundreds, even thousands, of vendor products on their Web sites.

So when
, which makes up about 90 percent of Lighthouse’s business, introduced Web syndication services, David Sylvestre, Lighthouse’s vice president of marketing, says he couldn’t wait to get started.

"We were one of the first partners to get on board with this, because our challenge was always how to keep current information on what
offers," Sylvestre says. 


Shaun Jones, vice president of worldwide channel and general business marketing for IBM’s software group, says partners like Sylvestre wanted a way to get accurate, repeatable ‘content blocks’ that describe products and functionality without having to rewrite, rephrase or rekey all the product information.

Considering the sheer number of product lines, products and cross-brand solutions
offers, Sylvestre says that task was nearly impossible. 

One alternative was to redirect customers to the
site, but that quickly put an end to the customers’ interaction with the Lighthouse site, Sylvestre says. The Web Collage Web Syndication tool keeps customers and prospects within the Lighthouse site, and automatically updates the site with accurate information about products and solutions, he says.

joins heavyweights Microsoft, Symantec and Cisco, among others, in offering the Web syndication services to its channel partners. The syndication services, powered by Web Collage, are a no-brainer: Syndication services can automatically feed VARs’ Web sites with accurate, up-to-date information about vendors’ products.

From a user’s point of view, the syndication material makes it look like users are on the Lighthouse web site, Sylvestre says. From there, potential and current customers can find out anything and everything they ever wanted to know about

Currently, Sylvestre says Lighthouse includes nine different
syndicated channels: storage, storage management, virtualization, System p, i and x servers, and
Global Tech services and workstations. The vendor plans to continue adding channels to the lineup.

"They just came out with a few new ones we’ll add in the next week, like content management and a channel devoted to
Tivoli ," Sylvestre said. He is quick to add that the syndication channels aren’t just stagnant blocks of content. The virtualization channel includes whitepapers, webcasts and interactive information on technology and solutions that partners can explore.

"It’s phenomenal stuff. If we’d had to create all that content by ourselves it would have been impossible; we only have two marketing people at our company," he says.

And yes, adding these channels led directly to increased sales, Sylvestre adds.

"We track traffic and activity daily on our sites, and we’re getting hundreds of daily visitors to our site, of which a significant number end up being our customers," he says. "We can’t necessarily say the syndication channels are the reason [a visitor becomes a] customer, but it’s definitely one more tool we can add into our arsenal to help us sell and close deals," he says.