Staples Dives Into Managed Services With New Division

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Data center and printer management solutions are available to all clients, but for SMBs, defined as between 10 and 250 employees, Staples can serve as a fully managed, outsourced IT department, said Jim Lippie, vice president, Staples Network Services.

"Those organizations could have internal IT departments, or we could work with them to provide them with a complete solution that has managed IT services as well as onsite services. We really give our clients the best of both worlds," said Lippie, who joined Staples through the Thrive Networks merger.

Staples plans to leverage N-able Technologies' managed services platform for servers and Kaseya's platform for desktops, Lippie said.

While it will compete for the same customers as many solution providers, Staples Technology Solutions also plans to enlist solution providers' assistance for many services implementations.

Staples has a strong relationship with OnForce for partner services engagements that will continue, Lippie said.

Other companies have tried nationwide services coverage in the past with limited success. Staples feels it has enough feet on the street with its own badged employees and partners to get the job done.

"The best way to describe that is local touch, national reach. That's what we offer to our clients. We started out as a small business ourselves in 2000. We understand the psychology of small business," said Coming.

Staples will face the challenge of winning services from small, local providers, but it's counting on its brand to win customers that it already serves in other capacities, said Bob Laliberte, senior analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group, a Milford, Mass.-based research firm.

"It's a big opportunity for them. It's just a matter of how well they execute," he said. "If you buy paper from them, use an 'easy button' for paper and pens, you might want to tack on those additional services. I don't think anybody today wants to bring on additional vendors, additional contracts to deal with. This can be one way to consolidate some of that."

In some cases, smaller solution providers may even look to partner with Staples to leverage some of the company's brand, he said.

"The ones that have gone through the pain and time and effort to build up their [own] brand might be more reluctant, but if you go in with Staples and form a relationship it gives you instant credibility," Laliberte said.

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