VARs Optimistic About Intel Exchange Plan

Intel's recently announced plan to help VARs better serve the SMB market by launching an online exchange is gaining positive traction with some channel partners who believe it will foster collaboration and grow business.

Intel's recently announced plan to help VARs better serve the SMB market by launching an online exchange is gaining positive traction with some channel partners who believe it will foster collaboration and grow their business.

Jay Masterson, product marketing manager for MPC Computers, said the reseller views the Intel Business Exchange simply as a good way to find new sales leads. “It’s just another outlet or touch point for us,” he said. “At the end of the day, from Intel’s point of view it’s about moving more Intel silicon, so what they developed was really a lead generation tool.”

In MPC’s case, Masterson added, that means working with Microsoft to offer Microsoft System Center Essentials in a complete solution that includes hardware, software and support. “This is something that MPC has been particularly focused on. We’re a major OEM, but we can bring that type of VAR experience to the under-the-Fortune-500 companies that don’t get the attention of, say, the Dells and the HPs,” he said.

The point, Masterson added, is that most SMB customers look for more than just a simple hardware solution. Many want more comprehensive support from a channel partner. “A piece of hardware is only as good as what somebody may put on it, and what we’re finding from our customers… is people want a fully supported solution from end to end. They don’t want to have to call the hardware vendor because they might have a hardware problem, and then have the hardware guy say, ‘Well, it’s something that Microsoft is doing.' So we can offer that end-to-end solution. We do the installation. We do everything

Masterson said Intel's new exchange might help create new customer opportunities for the company and its channel partners. “Obviously, we don’t need the Intel Business Exchange to drive customers to us, but the customers that would go to the Intel Business Exchange may be ones that don’t find our Web site,” he said. “They’re looking for a Microsoft management solution, and then they’ll see the linkage between us.”

The program could also stimulate partners to discover new opportunities working with each other to better serve SMB customers.  “We have the ability to maybe identify some ISVs that we may not be aware of and that we want to be working with,” he said. “It might provide some linkage that we didn’t know existed.”

Another benefit is that the cost to VARs to participate in Intel's exchange is minimal. "There’s a small fee that’s paid to Intel if a lead is accepted, and that’s it, " Masterson noted. “They’re just trying to cover a little bit of their overhead cost. I don’t think they’re looking at generating a profit. The profit will be generated by selling another Intel processor."

In early May Intel launched its Intel Business Exchange, a program aimed at meeting the needs of SMB customers and the channel partners that serve them. According to Christos Georgiopoulos, Intel's general manager of developer relations, the program is specifically designed to help VARs put together bundled solutions of hardware, software and services to meet their clients’ needs. “Think of it as a one-stop business solution portal for small to medium businesses,” he said.

According to Peter Elmgren, managing director for Intel Business Exchange, all the business from that portal goes to the VARs. “An SMB buyer comes to the Business Exchange site looking for software solutions and/or services that are bundled together or standalone, and that’s fulfilled by the VARs and solution providers that are part of our program," he said. "We are generating leads and opportunities for the channel to ultimately fulfill and sell this to the SMB customers that they service."



TAGS: Microsoft,SMB,Intel,VARs,online exchange

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