Tech Data Aims To Wake A Sleeping Client

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Tech Data plans to launch a client computing/systems reseller community to help spur more VAR business in desktops, notebooks, tablets and handhelds. The reason? The Clearwater, Fla.-based distributor believes there's renewed opportunity in client computing, said Bob O'Malley, senior vice president of U.S. marketing at Tech Data.

"Ten years ago, it was all about clients. Then servers became more important and brought in bigger revenue. Now servers and clients are being separated--look at IBM and Lenovo as an example--and there is tremendous opportunity there," O'Malley said. "We will see new devices, new applications areas, new uses for tablet computing, and more work-specific client devices that require the expertise of the VAR to sell and support. We want to be ready for that."

Ideally, Tech Data wants any VAR selling systems to be part of the community, yet members should have a strong solutions focus, O'Malley said, adding that the company initially will focus on its TechSelect members.

"Typically, they are our most progressive-thinking customers who are willing to try new things," he said. "We will provide those members an opportunity to take advantage of our client focus faster than others. I would expect that it will be a part of future TechSelect events, where we will offer more specialized areas of focus."

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Systems must be integrated into larger solutions to address customer needs, according to Leslie Malone, Tech Data's director of client computing. "Dependability is very big, and there's a huge increase in mobility. When we look in that group, we're also looking for ancillary products that complement [clients]," she said.

As an example, Malone cited Lind Electronics, which makes car mounts for ruggedized notebooks in emergency and utility vehicles. "That's a a good example of not only offering the [client] but also complementary products geared toward a solution," she said.

The systems community will focus on client products from Lenovo, Hewlett-Packard, Apple, IBM, Acer, Palm and other vendors, O'Malley said.

"We expect those client-centric VARs to migrate to Tech Data to take advantage of the things Leslie [Malone] will be doing. Also, we will go after those VARs," he said.

The systems community is just one technology segment that Tech Data plans to beef up for TechSelect. The distributor also is developing tracks for storage, wireless and professional audio/video and plans to invite solution providers in those areas to future TechSelect events, O'Malley said.

Tech Data, too, plans to bring more ISVs into the fold, even if the distributor doesn't sell the applications itself. "In many respects, the ISVs will represent the community," O'Malley said. "It's the applications that define it, along with the technology."