Avnet Builds Specialist Support System for Partners

By Gina Roos
Avnet, specialist support for partners

Avnet is taking a new global solutions specialist approach to drive channel growth for software-driven technologies, such as the cloud, cognitive computing, data analytics, the internet of things (IoT), mobility, security and enterprise networking. To support that strategy, the global distributor has created six specialist business units and dedicated more than 450 solutions specialists to support the business units and technologies.

The business units include Data Center Solutions, Cloud Solutions, Security and Enterprise Networking Solutions, Mobility Solutions, as well as Data Analytics, Cognitive Computing and IoT Solutions. A sixth specialist business unit, Education Services, which was created for EMEA and the Americas, is focused on training solutions.

The specialist business units are led regionally to align better with local partner requirements related to Avnet's portfolio and technical capabilities, said Awvnet.

"We're formalizing and aligning our structure across the regions to make sure that all of our customers and partners have the right dedication, focus, resources, sales support and technical expertise to drive these solutions around the next-generation technologies," said Gavin Miller, vice president of marketing and strategy for Avnet Technology Solutions.

"We're finding a lot more partners and suppliers have opportunities that span the different continents, and those end users want consistency of delivery and this will allow us to help our partners execute on that," Miller added.

The strategy doesn't change how Avnet works with its partners. "We have always been focused on solutions and business outcomes," said Miller.

The program is reminiscent of Avnet's successful SolutionsPath methodology launched several years ago to help partners understand unique issues and challenges around specific vertical markets. Now, the global technology distributor is giving partners access to services, resources and knowledge specifically around software-driven technologies with its enhanced solutions specialist support.

Avnet believes these next-generation technologies require a more specialized approach to support its channel and supplier partners. As the solutions become more complex and require a higher level of expertise, as well as span across different parts of an enterprise's infrastructure, the approach is focused on driving better business outcomes for customers by giving partners the dedicated resources, sales support and technical expertise to help them provide the right solution for their end customers.

Partners would agree. "It's difficult for all partners to have all the resources and specialization that customers might require for solutions. You can use Avnet's expertise for a particular solution area," said Dan Sytsma, vice president and general manager, Melillo Consulting, a technology solutions integrator. "Building out those skills and experience takes a lot of time, money and effort, and if Avnet has those skill sets, then we'll be able to leverage that accordingly during the sales cycle."

Avnet's solutions-based strategy also is expected to help partners as many of their customers shift to more solutions- or services-based IT consumption.

"The market continues to change for partners from not just selling products but selling services and solutions to customers," said Sytsma. "The challenge for partners is that you need to do all those things at once. This should open up new revenue and profit streams for us as a partner as we continue to help protect our traditional product business."

"You have a traditional product infrastructure business that has worked well for many years, and now you have this evolving solution, new IT consumption models, and how do you do both equally well because you need both of them, " explained Sytsma. "Customers aren't going to stop buying products tomorrow. But they are evaluating and choosing these new IT consumption models. You need to be adept and keep your traditional existing business going, and hopefully grow at what the industry is growing at, and grow out these new services at the same time."

Avnet's new initiative is more than a simple reorganization, Miller said. Bringing highly skilled technical and sales people together in these formalized specialist business units will provide "the right focus and dedication to enable our partners and suppliers to grow in those areas that we believe will continue to be focused growth areas for the next several years, Miller said.

"I don't believe you can be successful being a generalist in this environment anymore," he added. "And if you're extremely specialized, you start to run the risk of not having enough expertise in areas that may be adjacent to your specialization."

The solution specialists can help partners navigate through the different options, the right configurations and provide augmented expertise as required, said Miller. "We are definitely a partner-led organization, and we'll be involved in that sales cycle as much as the partner wants and needs, and that varies based on the partner's level of expertise for a particular solution."

Avnet plans to introduce additional proprietary tools, services, solutions and subject matter expertise around these technologies and future trends to support its channel. The distributor also will continue to add new technology vendors to support its range of partners, including service providers, solution providers, systems integrators and value-added resellers.

Gina Roos has been covering technology and the channel for more than 25 years. A co-founder and executive editor of EPS News, she has also served as an editor for EBN, EETimes and Electronics Sourcing.

This article was originally published on 2016-07-27