This Joint Venture Works

"The program is working," said Frank Vitagliano, vice president of worldwide global distribution channels at IBM, Armonk, N.Y.

Ingram Micro first revealed that IGS would look to partner with VentureTech members about 18 months ago. It took more than a year to close the first deal, but the partnerships could now become a more routine part of doing business for several VentureTech members, said Justin Crotty, senior director of customer marketing and program development at Ingram Micro, Santa Ana, Calif.

"We've known from the beginning that you can't go into a big organization and immediately determine what to hit. We always knew it would come down to the deal level with the SMB-focused IGS folks," Crotty said.

The first deal took time because Ingram Micro and IGS had to learn how to partner, Crotty said. Rules of engagement had to be defined and the right relationships at the local level needed to be developed. InterTech, a Phoenix-based solution provider, found IGS to be a willing partner once it found a champion at the local level, said Mike Novotny, president and CEO of InterTech.

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Novotny recognized the risks of sharing his customer data with a potential competitor, but he felt the rewards could be greater. "We're very good at the SMB marketplace. IGS is very good at the enterprise. We have the confidence to sustain our relationships at the SMB level," he said.

IGS called on the solution provider to do a wireless site survey on a million-square-foot warehouse for a customer in western Texas, and InterTech was able to charge 100 billable services hours. IGS subsequently reaped $300,000 in Cisco Systems wireless gear sales and asked InterTech to help deploy the equipment, Novotny said.

"One hundred hours is a nice piece of business for us. From IGS' point of view, fighting at the enterprise level, that's not the most productive use of their resources. They're focused on two- or three-year engagements," he said.

InterTech subsequently brought IGS into a deal with an international company that has 110 locations. The solution provider upgraded 150 IBM systems and is using IGS to help with a VPN solution, Novotny said. "They were not aware of that activity going on. We were able to reciprocate," he said.