Do you feel it? The pressure? VARs and IT solution providers are under increasing pressure from vendor direct sales creeping into hardware, the threat of vendors taking cloud services direct, the after effects of a lengthy recession, not to mention recent pressure on governments to cut all costs and mandating cloud services. The threat of disintermediation of channel partners has never been more real or immediate.  

To counter these threats, The ASCII Group ( has been quietly developing a worldwide vertical search engine (VSE)(  which enables those searching for IT services to find only local VARs and IT solution providers on a single site with upgraded and standardized listings. The service uses automated, targeted searches using Geo-IP technology match those in need of IT services with the local, regional or national  experts who can solve their problems and help their businesses succeed. Already, several industry heavyweights have registered their support of this service, demonstrating their support of the independent channel. They include Lenovo, Dell, Google and Kaseya, companies that have already encouraged their solution providers to participate in the IT Locator.

While many users go to major horizontal search engines by default, most users are actually trying to solve a problem — upgrade or expand their IT systems, find a job, look for a home, or resolve some other issue. Yet only a small percentage of search users want just a text search of many documents, which is what so many search engines provide.

The IT Locator goes beyond that kind of simple search. That’s because problem solving is easier when the search is defined by a single context and the keywords are better defined and metadata filters really work. For example, IT Locator lets solution providers complete a full profile including their specialized services, competencies, authorizations and affiliations. This offers consumers of IT services much higher data quality, contextually rich content, specialized tools integrated with unique content, better UI metaphors and search algorithms, specialized metadata and integration with related data sets and a better universe of prospects coming to each solution provider all because of the fact that a vertical search engine provides superior results.

We’re not suggesting you give up on horizontal search engines. But search experts will confirm that listed solution providers on a vertical search engine will rise up higher on general horizontal due to the nature of how the respective algorithms execute. And with “instant search” on Google and others, the letters ITL will bring up ITLocator first on the search box.

The major value to the channel that ITLocator provides, outside of lead generation, is to educate all users of IT solutions that they can easily find a trusted advisor for their IT needs and be assured that they are not just reading a web site listing through a crawler or a promotion by a specific vendor with its own proprietary locator. No, ITLocator provides an industry-endorsed independent tool that assures the fastest and best way to find a needed solution for the user.

Furthermore, the ITLocator acts as a counterweight against forces interested in selling around the channel and trying to make things more efficient at the expense to the user of IT. The mission of the independent IT solution provider remains true: provide the customer with the best solution regardless of brand or hype.

Alan D. Weinberger is founder, Chairman and CEO of The ASCII Group, a long-standing community of IT solution providers and VARs.