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Ingram Micro preps program to push VARs into services business

Ingram Micro is launching a services division designed to help channel companies plan, finance and deliver sophisticated servcies.

Ingram Micro, Inc. plans to announce this week the details behind the services division it created in mid-August specifically to help its value-added reseller (VAR) customers expanded into managed and professional services.

"We see the scale of the managed services market," according to Jim Manley, area vice president, VAR sales, Ingram Micro U.S. "Early adopters (VARs) have been doing it for two to three years, but the market is still fragmented to the point that there's no easy path for the others to follow."

The division, scheduled to launch formally Oct. 1 as the Ingram Micro Services Division, is led by Justin Crotty, head of the company's North America channel marketing team, who will become vice president of services, North America for Ingram Micro.

Most of the specifics are still under wraps, but the division will look a lot like Ingram's successful VentureTech Network (VTN), a program that allows Ingram's top reseller customers build business by relying on other VTNs to help fulfill contracts that include elements outside the geographic or technical specialty of the VAR that signed the deal.

"We're building out a team internally that will focus on all levels of the service business," according to Kirk Robinson, who is taking over as vice president channel marketing, Ingram Micro North America following Crotty's promotion. "We're building a sales team and the sales groups to support the customers."

The service group will be responsible for helping to identify VARs that would like to expand their services portfolios, educate them on the creation, sales and delivery of those services, and train their staffs in both sales and service delivery.

It's not an end-to-end program, Robinson said, but it will provide a forum to help VARs who are late to the managed-services business find and exploit real opportunities.

It will focus on professional services such as design and integration, managed services such as application hosting, and warranty contract management and renewal services.

The division will have a dedicated sales team as well as technical staff that can provide either technical or logistical support on the development and delivery of new services. The Ingram Micro Services Network (IMSM) and Ingram's other IT services will also be included in the new services formulation, according to an announcement from Ingram.

Starting or expanding a managed-services business on top of an existing sales or integration business is expensive, Robinson said. Managed services require building out a network operations center and new hires to staff it. Consultative services also require new hiring and extensive training. And both require new marketing, customer education, administrative overhead, contract management and other tasks.

"[VARs] are looking to Ingram Micro to help offset that startup cost and the initial costs for the managed services program," Robinson said. "Justin and his team are putting together some solutions for them."

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