Intel Launches Exchange to Help VARs with SMB Sales

Intel has started a program called Intel Business Exchange (BX) that should make it easier for channel partners to sell SMB solutions. The plan brings together a number of software and service vendors to offer small-business customers complete solutions, not just hardware.

Intel has launched a program called Intel Business Exchange (BX) that should make it easier for channel partners to sell SMB solutions. The plan brings together a number of software and services vendors to offer small-business customers complete solutions, not just hardware.

As part of the effort, Intel launched a support Web site that lists the software partners and contains additional information. The partners include Microsoft, AMI, Doculex, Everest, Fonality, Open-E, Salesforce.com, Symantec and Tripwire.

Intel claims the program is no threat to VARs and other channel partners because the exchange is meant to help resellers offer customers a complete solution, rather than have the channel partner cobble together the hardware, software and service components from multiple vendors. However, since the site is essentially a Web-based storefront designed to provide small businesses with a one-stop shopping and educational technology portal, some resellers were concerned about it.

"Intel is moving forward with bets around software," said Peter Elmgren, managing director at Intel for BX. "This is meant to be an online destination to discover innovative business solutions on Intel's platforms and help them make informed purchasing decisions and quote requests."

Elmgren added that the site should help VARs with their sales. "Ultimately it benefits small businesses when ISVs and VARs can market software and hardware products designed for them. We've created an online destination where people can find the products they need to run their businesses, and VARs and ISVs can sell them."

The site will provide research about products and services, allow potential customers to request quotes and connect them with solution providers to speed the identification, selection and implementation of the technology they need to run their businesses.

Currently the site offers four main product categories: security, storage, business applications and telecommunications. Elmgren said Intel plans to expand the site and add more categories as it grows in popularity.

Site visitors can research products and services, request quotes and find solution providers to help them choose and implement the right technology for their business. Elmgren said that the Exchange software offerings are tested through Spikesource and meet the standards of the Intel Certified Software Program.

The Exchange includes a social media aspect in addition to the sales component. It offers educational resources such as product descriptions, interactive demonstrations, whitepapers, case studies, blog entries and user-submitted product ratings and reviews.

"We plan to foster and grow the social aspects over time," said Elmgren. "You'll see podcasts, Web casts and an area where people can have their questions answered online."

Intel's first partner will be AllBusiness.com, an online media and e-commerce company that was purchased by Dun & Bradstreet last year. The site has launched AllBusiness Exchange, a stand-alone solutions marketplace powered by Intel Business Exchange.

"We have more than 4 million monthly visitors who are actively searching for solutions to their business needs, with many of them focused on technology issues," said Kathy Yates, CEO of AllBusiness.com in a statement. "AllBusiness.com's 'how-to' information and Intel Business Exchange solutions and providers is a powerful combination of resources available for this valuable audience."

The BX project is aimed at SMBs but has upward mobility, said Elmgren. "We feel that right now the SMB community is looking more for these types of overall solutions that we've provided on the site, which will have the ability to migrate upstream to the enterprise," he said.

IDC analyst Richard Shim said that this is the direction in which computing is headed. "It's a statement that it's less about the hardware and more about the complete solution, that it's more about software, and it's aimed at an audience that doesn't have a lot of time to invest in things that are important like security and manageability," Shim said." This could be a big deal for all types of solution providers going forward because it's a focus on something that's been addressed.

(This article was compiled from news reports on Internetnews.com and SmallBusinessComputing.com and was written by Andy Patrizio and Lauren Simonds)




TAGS: Intel,Salesforce.com,VARs,small business sales,new business exchange

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