Intel Launches Vertical Market Partner Programs For Education, Retail-Focused Internet of Things

Intel is charging fast into lucrative vertical markets with new partner designations and benefits for education and retail-focused Internet of Things.

The chip giant for the first time is giving partners vertical market branding, technical resources to close complex deals, and highly specialized education and training around these segments. A data center-focused program will be unveiled later in 2015.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company, which rolled out the new vertical offensive at the Intel Solutions Summit conference in Abu Dhabi Tuesday, expects the new designations to drive significant growth for partners delving deeper into vertical markets.

"If resellers want to go deeper in certain areas, we want to go with them and support them along the way," said Intel Vice President Maurits Tichelman, who oversees channel sales and marketing. "We want to give our partners additional benefits and recognition for what they are doing in these verticals."

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The new specialty designations offer eligible Gold and Platinum partners access to Intel technical specialists, vertical-specific resources, and professional development tools for formulating end-to-end solutions.

Donna Shepard, senior vice president of Dallas-based M&A Technology, which derives about 70 percent of its business from the education vertical, cheered the new benefits as a way to help M&A Technology "reach more schools than ever."

Shepard, whose business creates education solutions around technical support and hardware procurement services, said she expects M&A Technology's revenue in the education vertical to grow by up to 22 percent in 2015 due to the new specialty benefits, combined with a general uptick in the education market.

"I think Intel constantly tries to help the channel grow in different verticals, and with this particular vertical the company is putting its best foot forward and saying, 'You can do this, and we can help,' " said Shepard. "Intel is helping us educate our staff, provide solutions and advertise these solutions in a cohesive manner and, ultimately, grow our sales."

The education and Internet of Things retail specialty benefits are available immediately, while the data center specialty benefits will be unveiled later in 2015, according to Intel.

Intel also is investing in additional technical resources in health care, Internet of Things transportation and mobile, but has no plans yet for specialty designations in those vertical markets.

For the education market, Gold- and Platinum- level partners who have more than 3,000 Intel architecture platform sales per year and 25 education Intel-qualified training credits are eligible for the specialty designations.

In the Internet of Things retail vertical, meanwhile, Gold- and Platinum-level partners need at least two solutions and at least one blueprint or case study published on Solution Finder, Intel's partner-based solution sharing portal, as well as 25 retail training credits.

Intel's Tichelman said he hopes the new benefits will provide the tools and resources partners need to more effectively reach vertical markets that are ripe for growth. "This taps into what partners need [to grow their business]," he said.

Intel expects the education vertical total addressable market, for instance, to increase by up to 10 percent to 15 percent in 2015.

The Internet of Things segment, meanwhile, is widely considered one of the hottest emerging markets, with research firm IDC predicting the installed base of IoT units to grow at a 17.5 percent compound annual growth rate.

Hilary Tomasson, vice president of marketing at Eurotech, a Columbia, Md.-based Intel partner specializing in Internet of Things retail-based solutions, said Eurotech utilizes Intel's high-end processors to create multiservice gateways for Internet of Things retail solutions.

Tomasson said the branding affiliation that comes with an "Internet of Things Retail Solutions Specialist" Intel designation will help Eurotech to gain trust among clients and ultimately propel revenue.

"Working with Intel has been interesting for us since they're a huge influential brand. They've done a great job educating the market about the value that partners can achieve through services," said Tomasson. "It helps us to have their brand behind these concepts, and working with them for solutions brings products to the market more quickly. Having that association with Intel also helps with our credibility factor, and generates better business operations with higher levels of services and customer satisfaction."

About 30 percent of Intel partners have a broad revenue base in the education vertical, and more than 40 percent have some sort of revenue base from the Internet of Things retail vertical, according to Intel.

Intel's Tichelman said he sees the designations not only pushing existing vertical partners to go deeper, but also sparking the interest of solution providers who are not already taking advantage of vertical opportunities.

"I'm really excited we're finally taking this route. So many partners were asking about vertical programs," said Tichelman. "We'll see how this unfolds in 2015, but here is also an opportunity to acquire new partners, hopefully, by showing what we're capable of and showing the level of depth we are willing to go in order to focus on these vertical segments."

The North America Intel Solutions Summit partner conference runs from May 5 to May 8 in Dallas, where the company will detail its vertical offerings and showcase its array of products for partners.