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


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October 9, 2018 |

Tech Data Introduces Free Online Edition of Cloud Practice Builder Program

The new offering is designed to help larger numbers of partners engage in an enablement program previously available only via consultant-led, face-to-face engagements.

Tech Data Corp. has introduced a free online version of its Cloud Practice Builder partner enablement program for aspiring cloud service providers.

The new offering, which debuted today at the latest semi-annual meeting of Tech Data’s TechSelect partner community in San Antonio, is designed to accelerate the Clearwater, Fla.-based distributor’s strategic pivot from selling shrink-wrapped products alone to delivering solutions and services as well.

Until now, participating in Cloud Practice Builder has entailed a full-day, face-to-face assessment meeting with a Tech Data consultant, followed by three to six months of intensive follow-up sessions. That resource-heavy delivery model has limited participation in the program within North America to a few dozen partners a year. Introducing a digital version will enable Tech Data to expose significantly larger numbers of partners to the Practice Builder methodology, according to Stacy Nethercoat, vice president for cloud solutions in Tech Data’s Americas region.

“The consultant-led approach was naturally limited based on capacity,” she says. “There are many, many partners who are looking to gain access to enablement content on their schedule not necessarily on our schedule as to when we have a consultant available.” Nethercoat expects hundreds of partners to be actively engaged in digital Cloud Practice Builder exercises at any given time.

Other advantages to delivering Cloud Practice Builder content digitally include the abilities to tailor content flexibly to a specific partner’s needs and to make participating in the practice development process less intimidating. Unlike the consultant-led program, the digital version generally presents content in two-week segments.

“What we’re trying to do is invite them to come in, take the assessment, and work with Tech Data to break down the effort into manageable pieces that have clear ROI associated with moving through this such that their time to ROI overall is very, very quick,” Nethercoat says.

The digital edition of Cloud Practice Builder utilizes the same content and core methodology as the consultant-led version. Participants can revisit the content any time they need a refresher or use it to help newly hired employees get up to speed on cloud services swiftly.

There are no qualification criteria for admission to the program. “Any partner can take advantage of it,” Nethercoat says.

Partners who engage in Cloud Practice Builder digitally will have on-demand access to “cloud coaches” for live assistance with questions and challenges. Practice Builder consultants will monitor their participation as well and proactively reach out to partners whose progress appears to have stalled.

“While the content is delivered digitally, there’s still some very high-touch elements that are available to a partner at any point in time to help them gain the most from the program,” Nethercoat says.

Available now to Tech Data partners in the U.S., the digital version of Cloud Practice Builder will roll out to partners in Canada and Latin America next month.

Cloud Practice Builder is one of several Practice Builder programs introduced by Tech Data 11 months ago, all of which are designed to help “second platform” VARs making most of their money on hardware and software sales launch service offerings in strategic “third platform” markets. In addition to cloud computing, they include security, the Internet of Things, and analytics.

Embracing those and other next-generation opportunities requires market knowledge, sales skills, and technical capabilities most traditional VARs lack. Practice Builder is Tech Data’s biggest vehicle for guiding partners through that transition. At present, the company has 80 employees dedicated exclusively to Practice Builder engagements. Investments like that are bearing fruit though in the form of increased ordering activity, according to Marty Bauerlein, Tech Data’s senior vice president for North American sales.

“When you have that differentiated value, you capture more of the VAR’s share of wallet,” he says.

According to Bauerlein, Tech Data will ultimately create digital versions of all its Practice Builder programs. His hope is that most graduates of those online offerings will opt to seek further, more personalized guidance.

“At the end of the day, it’s still a contact sport,” Bauerlein says. “If you’re really serious about building a practice or a business, you’re going to need some hands-on video conferencing or speaking with some of our experts.”

Nethercoat agrees. “What we’re looking for is this being an opportunity for us to tell a story to a broader group of partners who then raise their hand for deeper engagement,” she says, citing Tech Data’s cloud summits and boot camps as potential venues for that additional contact.

Inclusive of Practice Builder, Bauerlein continues, Tech Data will spend some $10 million over three years on people and programs aimed at helping partners launch next-generation services.

“We’re putting our money where our mouth is,” he says. “It’s heavy lifting, but again at the end of the day the VARs are rewarding us with more spend.”

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