ScanSource CTO To Solution Providers: Get Vertical


Points to distributor's new partner portal for key tools, guidance


Point-of-sale distributor ScanSource is advising solution providers to sharpen their focus on specialized, vertical solutions to better position themselves for the next wave of market growth.

The Greenville, S.C.-based distributor issued its message to resellers Thursday during the New York leg of its Solution City channel road show, where it also spotlighted its nascent, Web-based market and partnership tool for the channel.

In a keynote address at the event, ScanSource CTO Greg Dixon told channel partner attendees that the company is investing its resources to help them hone their vertical market approaches. "A vertical market strategy focuses your energies on a specific type of customer," Dixon said. "You can develop credibility in that sphere. Credibility is worth money. You know what gets you into the boardroom [of a client]? Credibility, not just price."

As part of its own strategy, ScanSource plans to launch Solution City Web Portal, a Web site for resellers to obtain product and technical information on the 60-plus vendors in the distributor's line card. The site also provides tools for resellers to locate manufacturers and ISVs with vertical market specialties, as well as products and standard specifications on a market-by-market basis. In addition, the portal offers a partnering tool that helps solution providers locate vendors, ISVs and even solution provider peers to team with as needed.

ScanSource maintains relationships with 15,000 solution providers in North America, Latin America and Europe. Its Catalyst Telecom unit focuses on converged voice and data solutions, including products from Avaya, while its Paracon unit focuses on other converged communications devices. ScanSource itself focuses on providing bar-code and POS solutions to the channel.

The Solution City Web Portal originally began in 2003 but focused primarily on Avaya products and services through Catalyst. Dixon said ScanSource decided to broaden the online tools for each of its units and vendors, and the company timed the portal's relaunch for its channel road show.

Though the portal will give solution providers an opportunity to find vendors and partners across 10 vertical segments, Dixon said he sees channel growth opportunities particularly in the health-care market, as HIPAA requirements force customers to reconfigure their IT solutions, and the supply chain space, which he described as "about to explode."

"That's going to center around RFID technology," Dixon said. "There are huge growth opportunities there--if not in 2004, then in 2005."