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Acer America
Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.

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333 West San Carlos Street
San Jose, California 95110
United States

WWW: acer.com

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June 17, 2016 |

Security and Business Fundamentals Take Center Stage at Tech Data Channel Link Show

In keynotes and interviews with ChannelPro, company executives talk up opportunities in the security market and underutilized logistical services that can boost reseller profits.

Security is one of the biggest threats—and biggest opportunities—for channel partners today, according to executives at Tech Data Corp.‘s 2016 Channel Link event. Staged in Atlanta, Ga., the conference concluded today.

“We’re maniacally focused on this. We’re going to make sure that we are the leader in this market,” said Marty Bauerlein, the Clearwater, Fla.-based distributor’s senior vice president of U.S. sales, in a keynote address on Wednesday.

To help the roughly 300 SMB-oriented resellers attending the show understand why security is such an important priority for Tech Data, and why it should be for them as well, the distributor gave a prime speaking spot immediately after Bauerlein to John Tonnison (pictured), its CIO and executive vice president for global cloud computing.

“We as a society are not fully coming to terms with some of the realities of our digital life,” Tonnison said, noting that he faces those realities personally on a daily basis. Indeed, Tonnison’s team fends off some 60,000 increasingly sophisticated attacks a day from crime syndicates, hacktivists, and other cybercriminals.

“The enemy aren’t amateurs anymore,” Tonnison stated.

As if to underscore that assertion, Tonnison’s keynote came on the same day that Kaspersky Lab published information about a massive underground black market in which buyers can acquire credentials for over 70,000 hacked servers for as little as $6.

Dangers like that make protecting customers harder for channel pros while introducing a host of new sales openings. For example, Tonnison observed, the declining effectiveness of traditional access controls like passwords creates both heightened risk for end users and heightened need for more effective multifactor authentication solutions.

“It’s time to move on from passwords,” he said. “You could take them there.”

Significant Growth Opportunities
Such opportunities are precisely why Tech Data created a Security and Information Management business unit last month. Led by Tracy Holtz, who reports to senior vice president of U.S. marketing and purchasing Brian Davis, the new group is staffing up rapidly, and will double its headcount within the next few months.

Holtz and Davis are aggressively expanding Tech Data’s security partner channel as well. Though the company currently has over 8,000 resellers closing security-related deals on at least an occasional basis, most of them are selling anti-virus software, firewalls, and other individual security products.

“In terms of those that are fully capable of providing solutions, it’s a smaller number,” Davis said in an interview with ChannelPro. “They don’t have the scale or capabilities to kind of go from end to end on the solution set, but then also the delivery and other service capabilities that you would need to have in place.”

Responsible for closing that gap, Davis and Holtz are currently recruiting hundreds of partners and giving them the training and both pre- and postsales support they need to meet increasingly complex security requirements.

“There’s an opportunity really to enhance those partners and up-level [them],” says Holtz, whose team is also actively developing channel enablement tools ranging from customer presentations, security guides, and demos to professional service offerings in areas like penetration testing and vulnerability assessment. Those are tasks resellers often wish to perform but can’t.

“They just don’t have the staff internally to help support that,” Holtz says, noting that they often lack the necessary experience as well.

Arming partners with a bigger arsenal of security solutions is another key focus area for Tech Data at present. “We’re having existing conversations with many manufacturers today of bringing them onto our line card,” Holtz says.

“The growth opportunities are significant,” adds Davis. “We’ve already got a number of vendors on our target list.”

Though neither he nor Holtz would provide specific examples, both say increasing the comprehensiveness of Tech Data’s security product catalog is a greater priority than simply growing its size.

Underutilized Tools
For all its importance, though, security was far from the only topic on Tech Data’s agenda at this year’s Channel Link. Breakout sessions also addressed trends in cloud computing, client hardware, and data center technology, as well as logistical services that resellers can use to streamline operational processes. Bauerlein urged conference-goers to take greater advantage of such offerings during his keynote address, noting that at present only 40 percent of Tech Data partners utilize the company’s MyOrderTracker system, which provides proactive order status notifications in email.

“You guys should be using this with every order you place with Tech Data,” said Bauerlein, who added that systems for tracking special pricing agreements with vendors and adding custom logos and mailing labels to outbound shipments are similarly underutilized. The upshot, he suggested, is lost revenue and lower profits.

“It may be tactical, but I firmly believe we have to focus on the fundamentals of the business,” Bauerlein said.

For Tech Data itself, emphasizing fundamentals has included moving U.S. sales staff previously located in Costa Rica to the company’s headquarters complex, a move made last year that according to Bauerlein has had a noticeable financial impact.

“Our business is up 34 percent in our SMB group,” he said. “We’re one of the only distributors on the planet that’s growing, and we’re growing big right now.”


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