Geno Cenci, the national Microsoft practice director for $1.1 billion solution provider ePlus Technology, prides himself on not only keeping ahead of the speed of light changes in the market, but more importantly on translating those rapid shifts into data center and cloud computing business transformation gains for his customers.
It is that kind of passion for the technology and the business impact it can have that led to the 15-year technology sales veteran, who achieved 11 Microsoft sales specialist accreditations in the past two years alone, to be honored as the 2014 Microsoft Sales Specialist of the Year.
Cenci, who competed for the award among a field of 3,200 nominations from 112 different countries, will receive the formal award at a gala reception this week hosted by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington, D.C.
Cenci, who oversees the Microsoft, Citrix and EMC practices at ePlus, No. 36 on the CRN SP500, says he sees himself as a business transformation specialist for his customers. "It's great to be a technologist, but you have to be able to drive home the business value and the financial impact for a company to make an investment," he said. "You can't be the guy just selling technology."
Cenci credited ePlus' technical breadth and depth with top notch engineering talent across the data center as critical to his success. "Having the Microsoft certifications combined with ePlus' data center and cloud business transformation expertise has kept us one step ahead of the competition," Cenci said. "It's that kind of commitment that has made ePlus the trusted adviser to manage the entire infrastructure for our customers."
Key to that "trusted adviser" status is Cenci's knowledge of not only Microsoft technology, but of the entire data center landscape that includes Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard, EMC, NetApp and VMware. Last fall Cenci helped establish a plan to leverage Microsoft's Hyper-V virtualization platform running on Cisco Unified Compute System with a NetApp FlexPod storage environment.
That technology prowess helped power double-digit growth in ePlus' Microsoft business in the last fiscal year. Critical to that Microsoft sales growth is ePlus' strength as a data center power for enterprise and midmarket customers, said Cenci. "It's virtualization, cloud, infrastructure management, enterprise servers, messaging, all the stuff that ePlus as a systems integrator is great at that makes this possible. Customers need more than a single-point solution."
Cenci, who has been selling and supporting Microsoft software solutions for the last 15 years, said ePlus has kept one step ahead of the fast-changing market by pushing the sales team to embrace the latest and greatest technology with new certifications.
"Getting more certifications has allowed me to go wider and deeper with customers into data center and cloud in areas like human resources, finance and security," he said. "We are serving every part of the customer organization."
The need for those certifications is increasing given that the industry is changing every three to six months, Cenci said.
"You don't have a year anymore to see where the market is going," he said. "Having the latest certifications allows me to adapt and change with the market."
Cenci said the exponential impact of the certifications has become more important in the cloud era with customers looking to reduce their operating expenses and increase sales.
"At the end of the day, customers are looking for ways to be more competitive, whether that is going to the cloud or building a data center," he said. "This business is about helping customers architect and design the right solution."
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