Avnet to Help Channel Master Vertical Market Sales

By Herman Mehling

March 25, 2008

Distributor Avnet Technology Solutions is pushing deep into vertical markets, seeking what a senior executive of the distributor described as “double-digit growth for itself and its channel partners.”

Last month, Avnet expanded its healthcare practice, HealthPath, by creating an ISV ecosystem that enables VARs to provide complete healthcare solutions comprising healthcare industry software, hardware, and services – and by creating bundled solutions for ISVs.

Happy with the success of that effort, Avnet intends to expand it. In April, the distributor is expected to unveil GovPath, a government-focused practice modeled on HealthPath. Avnet is looking at rolling out practices for other vertical markets, but is tight-lipped on details.

“The healthcare ecosystem brings together clinical application vendors who are looking for infrastructure support, and VARs who want to penetrate the heathcare market but don’t have the application knowledge,” said Tony Vottima, vice president of vertical market solutions at Avnet Technology Solutions, Americas.

 Vottima said VARs often see lucrative business opportunities in vertical markets but lack the know-how or resources to tap into them. Providing that know-how is where Avnet comes in, he said.

“HealthPath has helped our partners increase sales into the healthcare technology market by more than 40 percent during the last year,” he said. “The IT healthcare business is booming because of various factors -- new medical technologies, the need to update old technologies and infrastructures, and compliance and data archiving issues around the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA).”

Vottima said HealthPath provides in-depth pre- and post-sales support, comprehensive training and market-specific technology solutions. A key part of the practice is the HealthPath University, a three-day course that educates VARs about the healthcare industry, the challenges healthcare professionals face, and the terminology used in the specialized $40 billion vertical market.

Approximately  250 VARs have ‘graduated’ from the university, which costs $800 to attend. The resellers learn far more than just technical information, said Vottima.

“Above all, they gain knowledge of the healthcare business, which is crucial to their success,” he said. “They learn that learn the specific challenges of hospitals, such as trying to reduce business costs while needing to buy the latest medical technologies to attract and keep the best medical people.”

The first ISVs in the healthcare ecosystem are: BridgeHead Software, a provider of archiving and backup software products; Compressus, whose MEDxConnect software connects disparate systems and provides automated interoperability; HIPAA Solutions, which focuses on compliance solutions targeted to requirements of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act; and Sentillion, which delivers solutions for single sign-on.