Tech Data Kicks Off TechEDG Conference

Tech Data kicked off its education and government conference in Orlando this week, offering more than 200 attendees education and networking opportunities, and touting plans to enhance matchmaking and contract bid services in the coming year.

Tech Data's TechEDG program includes roughly 3,000 resellers that focus on the public sector, with about 45 percent focusing on education, 29 percent federal, and 26 percent state and local government. Those attending the conference generate about $300 million in public-sector revenue, and range in size from the federally certified small businesses to systems integrators that rake in $50 million in annual revenue.

"We wanted a nice variety," says Barb Miller, director of government and technical services at Tech Data. "We targeted both those customers that already work with Tech Data in the government space but have never attended the event before, as well as those that tend to go direct to the [vendor] for their government business and may not know what we have to offer."

Resellers that attended the TechEDG conference last year have since grown revenue 19 percent, thanks largely to the networking that happens with vendors and other solution providers, Miller says.

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Forty-two vendors are participating in the conference -- varying greatly in both technology and market share. Ergotron, which touts a sizable footprint in health care with its laptop mounting and transport solutions, hopes the event will result in new alliances.

"Last year, we grew 40 percent, and we hope to grow another 40 percent [in 2006]," says Angela Swenson, channel marketing manager for Ergotron's government business. "We expect the public sector will be the market that allows us to do that."

In the next week, the vendor plans to announce a government program that will provide a 2 percent rebate to resellers on certain products.

In addition to providing a platform for vendors to announce new products and programs, Miller hopes the event will be an opportunity to promote enhancements to Tech Data's own service offerings. The distributor, which grew its government and education business 11 percent in the past year, plans to focus a great deal of effort on pairing arrangements among small business set-asides and the larger solution providers and vendors.

"Everyone needs the set-asides to fill federal requirements on contracts," Miller says. "We've been meaning to focus on matchmaking for the minority and disadvantaged businesses for some time, and are really going to drive that forward this year."

Services offered through Tech Data's bid desk will also expand to assist resellers in going after large contracts, such as FirstSource, the Homeland Security Department's $3 billion IT contract for acquiring commodity IT offerings.

"Rather than focus on the smaller quotes, we're starting to marshal our resources at Tech Data to respond to the large opportunities," Miller says. "Smaller solution providers often have a hard time interpreting the various pieces that make up these large contracts. We can explain the requirements and let them know if they're capable of taking it on. At the same time, we're seeing more vendors deciding to service contracts through Tech Data, rather than direct, and developing specific pricing and programs for particular contracts. That brings a lot of opportunity."