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D&H Sees Automation, Connected Office Opportunity For VARs, Launches New Portfolio

D&H believes there is a massive opportunity for VARs to develop connected offices for their clients, and has launched a new portfolio to help its partners take advantage of it.

Ever wondered how home automation and connected devices apply to the channel? D&H believes there is a massive opportunity for VARs to develop connected offices for their clients, and has launched a new portfolio to help its partners take advantage of it.

The new portfolio, launched Wednesday, includes enhancements around Wi-Fi and Bluetooth-enabled smart-home-automation devices. Some of the vendors added include Belkin WeMo automation, Oplink Automation Systems, Kwikset "SmartKey" locks, Quirky connected electronics products, Ascend/Quirky garage door controllers and AwoX Wi-Fi lighting.

"The pervasiveness of this category at this year's CES event is proof that smart technologies are sharply on the rise, adding to the ubiquity of the Internet of Things, allowing users to maintain control over their business locations, homes and devices from across the office or across the world," Rob Eby, vice president of purchasing at D&H, said in a statement.

[Related: CES 2015: 10 Cool Home Automation Platforms And Gadgets]

The opportunity for VARs, D&H Senior Vice President of Sales Jeff Davis said, is to deliver automation technologies that can help clients control electricity costs, heating costs, physical security and more. While those technologies have made some headway in homes, Davis said D&H is starting to see those same opportunities open up for businesses who are looking for affordable ways to control more aspects for the office.

"The connected home is extending into the connected small business," Davis said. "We're seeing technology deployed in small business that we're starting to hear about being deployed into the home."

That opportunity is especially true for small-business clients, Davis said. The commercial-level technologies bring connected-office and automation technology down to an affordable level for the SMB segment without sacrificing functionality, he said. The benefit for the small-business client is the technology gives them more control over their offices, including expenses such as heat, electricity and physical security, Davis said. Especially with cost-saving benefits in mind, the ROI on the technology is pretty clear, he said.

Davis said D&H hopes to help its partners take advantage of the opportunity it sees in building a connected office. In addition to adding vendor lines, Davis said D&H is looking to bring awareness of use cases, as well as expertise, around the new technologies.

Stephen Brooks, president and CEO at Newtown Square, Pa.-based Penn Systems Group, said he sees a lot of opportunities for businesses around intelligent and collaborative workspaces, for example, with digital signage or intelligent conference rooms.

"That's certainly a fit for us and something we've done a little bit in the past with some success," Brooks said.

That being said, Brooks said he doesn't see a lot of opportunity for selling directly to homeowners because that would require a different marketing approach. However, for other VARs that have more of a retail presence with end users, he said that could be an added opportunity with connected homes.

"Those kind of guys have an existing base of customers that they could go back and roll that out against. I think that's where the potential [opportunity] is," Brooks said.

Davis said D&H is starting to see demand pick up for the devices, saying sales are doing "very well." However, he said that is just the beginning as clients get more familiar with the technology, and vendors, such as Apple, launch more apps around it.

"This is emerging and you can see very clever things that are already coming out, and there will be a lot more as time goes on here. We want to make sure that we're always looking out there at what's new and ... making sure that we're all over the technology, bringing it in and educating our resellers on how to deploy it," Davis said.

PUBLISHED FEB. 12, 2015

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