ORLANDO – When Synnex announced a shift to a more North America-wide strategy last year, it said one of the key benefits would be greater parity between its high-value offerings on both sides of the border.
At the distributor’s spring Varnex conference here this week, it made a big step towards that parity, formally introducing two of its “Solv” practices in Canada, and taking further steps to establish a third.
Synnex used Varnex as a backdrop to introduce its ServiceSolv and CloudSolv businesses in Canada, while its MobilitySolv business in Canada is taking steps to rapidly close the gap with its namesake in the U.S.
“We’ve come a long way in six months,” said Mitchell Martin, president of Synnex Canada. “We’re about 90 per cent there in terms of the value offerings in Canada that are available in the U.S.”
Martin said all three areas are key growth opportunities for Synnex Canada, although starting from small base in some cases.
The distributor brings its cloud marketplace to Canada with Microsoft’s Office 365 and Adobe’s Creative Cloud as charter members, and the promise to expand the lineup with Carbonite’s backup and recovery solution, Google Chrome Management Console, and a Hardware-as-a-Service offering.
In the U.S., the distributor’s cloud linecard is up to 50-plus vendors, said John Allen, vice president of cloud at Synnex. His goal is to quickly get the Canadian CloudSolv marketplace up to between 12 and 20 key vendors.
“We want to be just as robust in Canada as we are in the U.S.,” Allen said.
But getting resellers involved may be even more important than getting vendors involved. After all, if it can show a thriving and transacting community, bringing new vendors to the marketplace will be obvious.
“As go the resellers, so will go CloudSolv,” Allen said.
Allen said the company is focused on both educating channel partners around cloud opportunities, and enablement efforts, including profitability optimization. That includes a number of “cash flow enablement” efforts that replace traditional distributor credit terms which may not apply to cloud-focused resellers. One of those options includes the company’s cloud vendor extending credit or capital to the reseller through Synnex.
Allen said the distributor has added resources at its Greenville, SC headquarters to support the CloudSolv business across North America, and that as the business grows in Canada, he expects to add dedicated staff in Canada to support that growth.
He also hinted that the distributor will tweak its CloudSolv platform over the next few months to “do the next land grab” of channel partners. Allen expects the changes will allow Synnex to “exponentially” grow the number of partners it has transacting with the CloudSolv marketplace.
The distributor’s ServiceSolv business aims to provide services bench capabilities for solution providers, with the promise of allowing resellers to serve business outside of their core area of specialization. The practice uses a combination of Synnex-delivered services, and outsourcing to third party players.
“We’ve already seen a lot of success stories in terms of enabling resellers to quote in areas where they traditionally haven’t had capability, and we’re working on multi-million dollar deals already,” Martin said. “We really help a reseller get involved in areas where they haven’t traditionally sold, and then ultimately, help them develop that practice.”
The idea is for partners to pick their spots, but not have to turn away business because it’s in an unfamiliar geography, or requiring types of services not typically offered. Already, Martin said, Synnex Canada has doubled the number of technical support calls its handling through the ServiceSolv business.
ServiceSolv offerings include pre-sales assessments on servers, storage, cloud, wireless network, audio/visual, network security, and digital signage
While much of the service offering included in ServiceSolv is handled by Synnex itself, it does work with third parties for some areas. Martin said that many of the services organizations with which Synnex works on ServiceSolv already do business transborder, so the distributor has “only had to fill a few holes in Canada.”
While the company had previously announced the expansion of MobilitySolv into Canada, that effort got underway in earnest at he beginning of 2014. Adnon Dow, vice president of global mobility solutions for Synnex, said the distributor is working on extending its partnership with key Canadian carriers to include both voice and data services, which will both increase the revenue available to solution providers, and provide a key enabler for what Dow sees as the next step for MobilitySolv both in Canada and the U.S., moving into machine-to-machine communications.
The opportunity there could be huge. Dow estimated that between 50 and 60 per cent of everything the channel sells in terms of network and infrastructure could have a wireless routing component to it, either as the main connection or as an inexpensive option for redundancy. And it’s a business that will seem much more familiar to the network-centric VAR who’s used to solution selling, than it will to a mobility dealer whose primary business is device sale and network activation.
“It’s not that far beyond what they’re already going with their existing solutions,” Dow said of adding mobility to current opportunities. “We think we can go to the majority of our resellers and help them develop a mobility machine-to-machine practice. It’s not so much an issue of a business model change as one of doing a lot of education.”
Providing that education, and building out the broad resellers base in Canada Dow touches upon is the other key priority for 2014 in Canada.
“By the end of 2014, we’re going to be in Canada where we are now in the U.S.,” he said.
In the U.S., Synnex announced a partnership with MasterStream to automate much of the quoting and procurement process for MobilitySolv resellers. Dow said that same platform will be brought into the Canadian MobilitySolv business in short order, hopefully within the next quarter.
“The platform is there, it’s just a matter of finalizing APIs and plugins with our carriers,” he said.
And a little bit of GovSolv
The remaining outstanding “Solv” in the Canadian marketplace is the GovSolv practice, focused on the federal, state, local, and education business in the U.S. Unlike technology, or even other vertically-focused practices, importing such a practice could prove tricky, given the major differences between government buying patterns on both sides of the border.
“It’s going to take a little bit of time to figure out the value-add there for Canada,” Martin said.
Still, some components will make it to Canada sooner than later.
The distributor’s relationship with Google, which sees it market Chromebook devices as well as the company’s Chome management console for those devices, particularly in the education market. Chromebook has been rapidly gaining ground across the industry, although Eddie Franklin, vice president of sales for U.S. public sector at Synnex, said the move towards Chrome is “about six months to a year” behind in Canada compared to demand in the U.S.
“Everything we’re building in the U.S., we’ll apply to Canada,” Franklin said.
That includes a deal that will see Synnex handle channel access to Google’s Play for Education store, essentially an effort to allow schools to allow vetted access to applications on Google’s Android platform.
Some partners might balk at the low price point of Chromebook as compared to other endpoint devices, but as with most things, partners focusing on hardware margins are missing the big picture, which Franklin said can include migration and deployment services, application and device management, and even infrastructure upgrades as schools prepare to have a far greater number of devices on their networks.
To help partners get there, the distributor now has what it calls a Chrome Pros team, which is working to enable a community of Chrome partners across North America. Currently, Synnex counts about 170 VARs in the program, and is pushing hard here at Varnex to grow that number.
And while hardware cost for the devices tend to be low, it’s not necessarily a race to the bottom. For example, Franklin noted that there’s much greater demand for more expensive 14-inch Chromebook devices, compared to the 11-inch Chromebooks that make up the lowest price options int he market.