Avnet's Partner Strategy Continues to Evolve
Driving increased sales through its partner channel has been the primary strategy at Avnet Technology Solutions over the past several years. One way the global IT distributor is meeting this goal is by helping its partner channel build out their practices with new services and capabilities, particularly for the cloud, big data, social networking and mobility, as well as vertical markets that have unique requirements.
Many infrastructure hardware partners need help with their go-to-market strategies to address customer requirements through greater services and solutions, said IDC analyst Paul Edwards in a report, titled "Avnet's Evolution to Solution Distribution." In addition, many resellers not aligned with third-party platforms (described by IDC as cloud, big data, social and mobility) will likely miss out in the highest growth IT markets, he stated.
One likely reason is that many resellers focused on infrastructure hardware lack the money or personnel resources to support the transition into these disruptive technology areas, noted Edwards in the report. However, the rise of these technologies is driving Avnet's mandate to sell more hardware and software through its partners, while helping them improve their services and build out their product capabilities, he added.
Avnet aims to empower the reseller base and help them find ways to solve their customers' problems, Tony Vottima, senior vice president and general manager of Avnet Services, Americas group, told Channel Insider.
One way Avnet has addressed these issues is by developing services and capabilities around vertical markets. Avnet launched its SolutionsPath methodology several years ago to help resellers understand the unique issues that customers have in particular vertical markets, which entails a lot of education about how these vertical markets work from product and services perspectives.
This allows the reseller to have a service knowledge base around various areas of technologies so they can help a customer understand what their specific issues are, explained Vottima. It also provides the resources for them to do an assessment and proof of concept all the way through implementation, he added.
The resellers' engagement with Avnet in the vertical markets is increasing as they understand their customer challenges are unique in different vertical markets, said Vottima. The services are very focused and specific to the vertical markets, including retailers, health care or life sciences, in terms of how the technologies and services are applied.
Avnet continues to expand its services organization through acquisition and organic growth to offer more services and capabilities to their reseller partners. "It was really focused on the next evolution of how do we help the reseller become more services-led because a lot of the channel is very product-focused," said Vottima.
"Many of the current challenges and new technologies are complex and need to be services-led as opposed to product focused. That is how we evolved from SolutionsPath through what is now a significant services organization," he added.
Avnet positions its service practices around four key areas: business solutions (sales, marketing and services in the line of business), IT solutions (focused on more traditional services around the data center, including cloud, automation, application management and testing), life cycle (asset management) and education (hardware and software training).
A key part of the services business is Avnet's focus on new, higher-end technologies in which partners haven't made significant investments. The distributor helps resellers position technologies such as cloud, mobility and data analytics to help them reach a broader set of customers and extend their portfolios.
Another piece of the puzzle is the vendor base. Part of Avnet's strategy focuses on how the distributor will support and provide resources across multiple vendors as well as across new technologies. "We needed to add more value and more capabilities to our partner base, and at the same time, we needed to differentiate ourselves with our suppliers, both as a provider and to help them bring their solutions to market," said Vottima.
Gina Roos, a Channel Insider contributor, specializes in technology and the channel.