For Some, ScanSource Matching Program Has Just The Right Touch

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When Team Business Solutions wanted to find an ISV specializing in touch-screen applications for the retail market, it had to search the Internet.

The Irvine, Calif.-based solution provider eventually found InfoTouch, Norcross, Ga., and the companies struck a partnership.

"The touch units we propose with InfoTouch are NCR, and I buy all my NCR stuff through ScanSource," said Kirk Nelson, president of Team Business Solutions.

Little did the solution provider know that ScanSource was in the process of finalizing a program to match solution providers with ISVs, a model that would eliminate the time the parties need to spend looking for one another, according to ScanSource executives.

The demand for ISV applications is increasing, but ScanSource didn't want to add software to its business model.

ScanSource's Technology Partner Program launched in August 2001 but took about a year to solidify. ISVs pay a $3,500 annual fee to join the Technology Partner program, which gives them exposure to solution providers through marketing materials including catalogs and Web pages. ScanSource sales reps also help solution providers find ISVs.

The initiative now counts about 25 ISVs and niche hardware vendors as members, said Marcia Conte, manager of the Technology Partner Program at Greenville, S.C.-based ScanSource.

The demand for ISV applications is increasing, but ScanSource didn't want to change its business model to add software, Conte said. "We don't typically sell a wide variety of software," she said. "It's not our core competency, and it takes investment of resources. However, being a value-added distributor, we

didn't want to leave our customers out there to find partners on their own."

Peter O'Brien, vice president of partner services at ScanSource, said the number of program members could double in the next 12 to 18 months.

"We're incorporating our hardware vendors into the program to create marketing initiatives with ISVs," he said.

"The goal is to become a resource and get exposure to [ScanSource solution providers]," said Todd Renner, vice president of sales at InfoTouch.

InfoTouch initially used ScanSource to purchase its own hardware for development purposes, and then presented itself as a potential partner for the Technology Partner Program.

The ISV's solution provider partner ranks have increased to 60 from six in the 18 months since it joined ScanSource's program, he said, adding that more than 95 percent of InfoTouch's business comes through partners.

ScanSource does not take title to the ISV's software, but it will take the software purchased by the solution provider and integrate it into the appropriate hardware before delivering it to the customer, she said.

"Even though we match them up, we don't say, 'Bye. Have a great day.' We try to work it so the relationship works out the way it needs to," Conte said.

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