Tech Data Lab Showcases Vertical Solutions

The distributor has replicated a retail counter and a doctor's office in its lab at its Clearwater, Fla., headquarters, where solution providers can build and test vertical solutions for end users in those markets.

The goal is to better show potential customers how technology can improve their businesses, said Barb Miller, director of technical and government services at Tech Data.

"If you saw the lab before, it looked more like a data center. We redesigned it to support our SBUs [Specialized Business Units] as well as vertical markets such as health care, retail and finance," Miller said.

The existing infrastructure of the Solutions Center was moved to the back of the lab, which still features horizontal security, telephony, storage and mobile solutions, she said.

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In addition, Tech Data is courting ISVs to showcase their vertical applications in the Solutions Center. Thus far, the distributor has three ISV applications available to solution providers: HandApps, a wireless inventory solution from jLAN Technologies, Hollywood, Fla.; iSynergy SBS, a document imaging and workflow management solution from iDatix, Clearwater; and a professional services solution from ConnectWise, Tampa, Fla.

Tech Data does not intend to resell the applications itself. Instead, it will provide leads between interested solution providers and the ISVs, Miller said.

"We'd like to add about one [ISV] per quarter. We'd like to get a health-care solution and a financial solution," she said.

Andy Link, president of jLAN, which is also a solution provider, appreciates the fact that Tech Data is seeking smaller, more vertically focused applications for the Solutions Center.

"We've had good but limited success. Any exposure is fantastic. The folks going through there are other VARs. If they have a practice around retail, Tech Data will pass their info to us," Link said.

JLAN's solution is an add-on to Microsoft's Retail Management Solution and includes physical inventory and field sales features for handheld devices, Link said. It is included in the retail display at the Solutions Center.

"One of the reasons for the kiosks is to make the Solutions Center environment less intimidating. We wanted end users to connect to the environment a little better," Miller said.