For distributor Synnex Canada, its “Solv” practices are a major strategy point, its high-value offering, blurring the line between broadline and value-added distribution, and supporting solution providers in high-growth, high-margin opportunities. The Solvs, which cover a variety of technology and vertical areas, have been rolling out over the last few years in Canada, and for Synnex Canada president Mitchell Martin, they’re a key profit item. Areas including CloudSolv, ServiceSolv, and PrintSolv have been up and running in Canada for some time, but one key member of the Solv family hasn’t yet made it to Canada. But that’s about to change.
Eddie Franklin, senior vice president for public sector and vertical markets at Synnex, told ChannelBuzz.ca at the distributor’s recent Varnex event in Las Vegas that the distributor is targeting a full Canadian launch for GovSolv in the first quarter of 2017, although many parts of the business are already up and running north of the border.
GovSolv has been the hardest to port across the border, due to the differences between the Canadian and American public sector markets, but some parts are already in place and have been in place for some time. Franklin said that to date, the GovSolv brand hasn’t been present in Canada, but some of the offerings have been available in Canada on an ad hoc basis.
The big difference is the addition of former Bell Microproducts and Avnet Canada sales executive Rock Marriott, who’s joined the company as program manager for public sector, providing Synnex with “boots on the ground” in Canada for the first time, dedicated to shaping its public sector business in Canada.
“In the past, we’ve gone to Canada, we’ve talked about an opportunity, and then we’ve come back to the States,” Franklin said. “We wanted to start [GovSolv in Canada] from a position of strength. Now we’ve got Marriott and a Canadian GovSolv team that will be the tip of the spear in Canada, and has the full love and support of the GovSolv organization in the U.S.”
Franklin said that as the company has looked at the Canadian public sector market, there are some notable differences, but more than those differences, “there are a lot of similarities there.” The strategy is to bring in the pieces that need the least customization or massage to fit into the Canadian market first, and build the rest from there.
In that regard, education is probably the easiest target, and is where the most work has already been done. Synnex was early on the Chrome business for education, and while Franklin acknowledged that Chromebook pickup in K-12 in Canada has been “a bit slower,” it’s a well-established business in the Canadian market.
“We have subject matter expertise, good curated content for education training and enablement, and as we move into that market, we’ll empower our Canadian resellers,” Franklin said.
Public safety and emergency management is also “very similar” across the border, in Franklin’s estimation, and the distributor believes it will be able to replicate its success in areas like rugged computing and mobile data terminals in the Canadian marketplace.
In both areas, the company has gone to the extent of bringing in experts from the field — a former chief of police on the public safety side, and a number of former teachers on the education side — and their expertise has helped guide the offerings the distributor brings to bear. Those offerings — both solutions themselves and solution/market education, training and enablement offerings, will be used as a guide for the Canadian business, with made-in-Canada “tweaks” where appropriate and necessary.
Franklin also sees similarities in the state and local (or provicincial and local) market, a scene he describes as “a thousand points of light” in the U.S. market, and very similar in the Canadian market. Here, the distributor’s reach and Varnex community come most into play, allowing solution providers to more easily make connections that allow them to bring a solution to clients that includes an area out of the incumbent partner’s technology wheelhouse, or in their technology focus but outside their local community.
“Partner to partner is big in the state and local piece, and we’ll have very tight collaboration with the Canadian Varnex team,” Franklin said.
The federal part of the business is a little bit more tricky, because, as Franklin puts it “Shared Services has done a good job of stymying procurement.” But still, he sees upside on the way, and with a wait-and-see — or perhaps more accurately “wait-and-learn” — approach, he believes the distributor will be well positioned when the taps open.
“It’s a big pendulum that swings very slowly. So when it comes back, we’re understand NMSO and how to move forward,” Franklin said. “We’re learning all that, just the same as we initially did in the U.S. The nice part is that public sector entities don’t go away. They’re there for the duration. And technology is helping them accomplish their missions more than ever.”
Franklin said GovSolv also has eyes on opportunities in heavily-regulated or compliance-heavy markets, areas like healthcare, utility, transport, and construction and architecture, because spending in those spaces tends to be driven by government mandates and subsidies, creating large and predictable opportunities. It’s also an area that fits very well with Synnex’s focus on Internet of Things.
As part of the changes at Synnex, Franklin himself has taken a position with a more North America-wide view, a change that he said will help ensure the Canadian business is well-represented as it build its plans for GovSolv and other vertically-oriented programs.
“By 2018, we’ll have a tight North American program around the verticals we’re pursuing, and the Canadian business is going to benefit from that significantly,” Franklin said. “We’re confidant we’ve got a strategy, and as we learn more, we’re going to do more and more.”