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New Softchoice CEO To Press Microsoft Azure Advantage, Look Into Growing U.S. Enterprise Business

New Softchoice CEO Vince De Palma plans to grow the company's industry-leading Microsoft Azure practice and examine expanding its U.S. business deeper into the enterprise.

New Softchoice CEO Vince De Palma plans to grow the company's industry-leading Microsoft Azure practice and examine expanding its U.S. business deeper into the enterprise.

The Toronto-based company, No. 32 on the CRN Solution Provider 500, will also figure out what capabilities it needs to continue expanding its managed services business, and will maintain a laser-like focus on customer experience, De Palma told CRN on Tuesday.

He started at Softchoice's CEO Feb. 1 after leading document destruction company Shred-It for nearly seven years. De Palma replaces David MacDonald, who will be retiring after almost 16 years as the company's president and CEO.

[RELATED: Softchoice: Networking, Services Needs Drive Unis Lumin Acquisition]

"We have the scale of a national reseller, but the touch of a local service provider," De Palma said. "We're investing to grow."

Softchoice's personal touch differentiates the company from large, multinational resellers such as CDW and Insight Enterprises, De Palma said. A key component of Softchoice's personalized customer experience, De Palma said, is that the company has a brick-and-mortar technical presence in pretty much every major U.S. market.

This enables Softchoice to easily conduct in-person meetings at client sites, sitting across the table from both the customer's IT department and other line-of-business leaders to better understand what they're trying to accomplish.

Softchoice is already Microsoft's largest Azure partner in North America thanks to proactively making changes to its business model, DePalma said.

"As they've become more focused on the cloud, we've pivoted with them," De Palma said. "We're a top partner of Microsoft, and we've leveraged that position to introduce Azure to our customer base."

Nonetheless, De Palma believes that Softchoice is still scratch the surface when it comes to Azure adoption. He would like to see the company circle back with both new and existing clients to drive penetration further.

Softchoice began its services journey several years ago in response to customers asking for help with more mundane technology tasks so that their internal IT departments can focus on more strategic priorities, De Palma said. The company has been successful in freeing up more time for clients to spend on their higher-level technology roadmap, De Palma said.

Softchoice has a strong presence in both the Canadian enterprise and small and midsized business markets, but De Palma said the company's business today is more skewed toward SMB.

De Palma said he plans to get a better understanding of Softchoice's internal capabilities, competitive landscape and vertical-specific IT needs before deciding whether or not to go all-in on the U.S. enterprise market. Softchoice might opt to focus its U.S. enterprise practice on the industries that are the most IT-dependent, De Palma said.

De Palma has a network of talented former colleagues from his time as an executive as Shred-It, Pitney Bowes and ADP, but he said he has no plans to make any changes to Softchoice's existing executive team.

"It's an incredibly special group of individuals," he said.

Although Softchoice will be De Palma's first time working in the IT services industry, he said he has relevant experience as a customer of IT services, particularly during his time at Shred-It, where an aggressive IT strategy was critical to driving the company's growth.

While at Shred-It, De Palma helped the company convert its enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to SAP, outsource management of the company's data center to a third-party provider and implement to improve sales performance. He also helped put more mobile technology in the hands of drivers so that they could have more informed conversations with end users.

All told, De Palma said these experiences at Shred-It reinforced the importance of having a trusted partner that can lighten the load when it comes to back-office IT functions.

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