The Return To Solutions

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Today's VARs and systems integrators in North America have an unprecedented opportunity. Demand for large-scale technology initiatives is once again on the rise after five long years of dormancy. Business-driven, mission-critical technical initiatives are clearly front and center of enterprise planning efforts. Whether it's enhanced customer relations, competitive threats, internal efficiency mandates or strategy exercises, companies across the United States are digging deep into their corporate coffers.

Needs abound, funds have been allocated to address them, and client-vendor relationships are being initiated at a pace not seen in years. But enterprises are not looking at technology for technology's sake. They're looking for business-driven solutions. They want specific answers to specific questions. As we move into the second half of the decade, custom solutions are the order--and opportunity--of the day.

At most big companies, business units and their IT counterparts are collaborating as never before. Enterprises finally understand that IT must adapt and support the business, not the other way around. It involves a delicate balance: implementing high-tech change that's dramatic enough to make a difference but not so dramatic that it's disruptive or unrealistically pie-in-the-sky.

In today's market, there's nothing more valuable to an enterprise than a solution provider that can talk the talk and walk the walk. Business analysis, coupled with deep technology development and integration expertise, spells efficiency and value for the client. Ultimately, a well-executed technology project transforms the VAR from vendor to partner.

That distinction, while seemingly subtle, dramatically shapes perception in the client's mind. Vendors might get to respond to an occasional RFP, but partners are asked to participate in all of them. Better still, partners can avoid the competitive exercise altogether. Vendors get pigeonholed and minimized; partners shape enterprisewide initiatives. Vendors deliver a particular product or service; partners deliver solutions.

And therein lies the difference, and the incredible opportunity.

Jeffrey S. Davis is president and COO of Perficient, an Austin, Texas-based solution provider and long-standing member of the VARBusiness 500.

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