Avnet eyes Canadian GovPath rollout

SAN ANTONIO, TEX.Avnet Technology Solutions is looking to bring its government- and education-focused GovPath SolutionsPath north of the border in the near future.

The distributor has offered the program, which looks to help government-focused solution providers get closer to their customers, in the U.S. for three years now. Brian Aebig, vice president and general manager for Canada at Avnet, said the distributor plans to roll “phase one” of the Canadian version by the end of 2010, with the complete program rolling out early in 2011.

Right now, Aebig said Avnet Canada is examining how to structure a program that meets the needs of the three different communities it will serve: the company’s manufacturer partners; its reseller community; and the government itself.

“My objective is to understand those disparate objectives and find the overlaps,” Aebig said. “If I can find alignment with all three, then I have a Canadian GovPath.”

Aebig said the distribution was “well down that path” to finding the common ground.

Perhaps the most crucial of those elements is identifying the changing needs of the federal government in general, and of Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) in particular. Driving a “solutions playbook mentality” in a way that meets the needs of the government’s procurement body will allow solution providers “far more room for growth” on an ongoing basis than simply addressing the government end-of-year rush, Aebig suggested.

And government is clearly signaling it’s ready to change the way it does business – such a transformation has been the talk of GTEC events for the last few years, and is accelerating. As that accelerates, having a clear Canadian GovPath offering “becomes a must-have and not a nice-to-have,” Aebig said.

“If change is a requirement at the government, then it’s incumbent on us and the reseller community to show value to the government and to our manufacturer partners that we can not only meet their needs but accelerate their success,” he said.

Government is a very different vertical exactly because of the presence of PWGSC as the “policeman at the gate,” Aebig said, defining what is and is not of value. By taking the specific needs of that body into account in its training, enablement and solutions design for a Canadian GovPath, the distributor is hoping to make for an easier way into government sales.

“We need to address the evolving need of procurement within the Government of Canada,” he said. “A year ago might have been a bit early, but it feels like the timing is right now.”

Mike AtLee, national director of government and education solutions at Avnet, said that desire for change in the way governments purchase technology solutions is consistent with what the distributor has seen in running GovPath in the U.S. for the last three years. Increasingly, he reported, government is willing to buy based on value rather than price alone, and puts more importance on the relationship and expertise provided by a solution provider.

The U.S. program features tools, AtLee said, to help VARs find exactly those kinds of opportunities within the U.S. system. “It’s a fundamental change in how the channel thinks about doing business with the government,” AtLee said. “It’s about designing the full solutions versus fulfilling an order.”

While the distributor has high hopes for acceptance and interest in Canadian VARs diving deep into the government market through GovPath, Aebig acknowledged that not all the company’s Canadian partners are looking to build practices in the field. He stressed that even after GovPath launches, it will continue to work with such partners that dabble in government in its “value distribution” model, while moving into its “solutions distribution” model with its GovPath partners.

“Those who want meet PWGSC’s requirements will see far more explosive growth,” Aebig predicted.