IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Tapping into Distributor Services

New distie outsourced services are designed to extend the channel’s reach, but are partners aware of—and interested in—them? It depends. By Jessica Meek
Reader ROI: 
DISTRIBUTORS have rolled out white-label-style cloud and professional services that partners can leverage.
AVAILING THEMSELVES of these distie services can extend a partner’s reach and add margin.
IT MAY ALSO dilute relationships with vendors and customers, though, by inserting a third party into the picture.

THE CHANNEL is being encroached upon from all angles these days. As such, channel partners are working hard to not just stay on top of their game, but to get ahead of their game, introducing offerings such as professional services or dedicated cloud services to their portfolio.

Distributors have developed a whole host of white-label-style services that partners can tap into to assist in such endeavors. When it comes to using these services, though, some channel pros are heavily invested in them, while others haven’t heard enough about them. And there are those that are fully aware, but don’t have the desire to engage with them.

Why the Distie Interest?

There are myriad reasons why distributors are placing such a strong emphasis on outsourced services. As digital transformations continue across the board, the emphasis on the cloud only grows, meaning traditional distributor offerings, such as hardware and software SKUs, face sluggish growth and limited expansion opportunity. Offering a diverse range of white-label-style services gives disties a chance to make the move channel partners started making some time ago.

Mike Ritsema

“As the looming cloud approaches, we can only imagine there’s going to be less hardware moving and more services required, [and] distributors want to be in the services business,” says Mike Ritsema, president and partner at Grand Rapids, Mich.-based i3 Business Solutions, a manage services provider and Tech Data partner.

On top of this, the opportunity clearly provides added margin and the chance to get “deeper into accounts,” rather than just being a product-sales entity, says Rob Bello, vice president of sales at Bit by Bit, an MSP based in New York, and an Ingram Micro partner. He adds that disties also recognize that many MSPs who don’t necessarily have the resources still need to offer a full-service support package for clients. “Smaller MSPs need that type of assistance, and I think there are gaps there where the distributor can fill in,” he notes.

Getting the Word Out

Brian O’Shaughnessy, president and CEO at De Pere, Wis.-based MSP ITConnex, knows he’s not taking advantage of all the solutions and expertise SYNNEX offers. He says SYNNEX does “a fair job” of making partners aware of its white-label services, such as GOVSolv or Stellr programs, which channel pros can tap into for targeted outsourcing needs. However, he questions whether such services are “widely utilized.”

Ritsema, meanwhile, says Tech Data “has done a really good job of saying, ‘We’ve bundled all these different services and you can get them all in one place.’” Even so, i3 prefers to “move with its peer groups” when it comes to choosing solutions and services.

“We don’t use our distributor for that, and from the eight to 10 peers that I track closely, I know they’re not using distributor relationships in that way either.” He adds that i3 simply prefers to pick up such services through industry shows and peer reviews and then start with a direct vendor relationship before exploring the distributor option.

About the Author

Jessica Meek's picture

JESSICA MEEK is a freelance technology and financial writer based in New York.

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