IBM specialist distributor ITG says it can now distribute every IBM product that runs on or is attached to a PC platform, after taking up the distribution rights for the IBM and Lotus software range.
ITG national sales and marketing manager, Braham Shnider, says his company can now offer complete end-to-end solutions based around the product set of its chosen vendor, IBM. "If you'd asked me six months ago what would be our ideal product portfolio, it is the one we now have," said Shnider, whose company also distributes IBM PCs, options, networking hardware, Lexmark and IBM printers, and servers.
"We've specifically chosen IBM for the reason that they can really do point-to-point total solutions - they are probably the only vendor that can do that, and no one is representing them at all levels," he said. Under the new agreement, ITG will distribute the entire range of software products including OS/2 and the Software Server series products, as well the complete application suite from Lotus.
On Lotus' decision to sign with ITG, Shnider said, "It would be fair to say that Lotus felt that firstly they needed a valued-added distributor, but secondly they needed somebody who had some alignment with other IBM products, because there is obviously some synergy there. We can bring it all together, and we really are the only organisation that has not only the products but the expertise to do it. These are the only two software brands we represent."
Shnider says this notion of bringing it all together is embodied in the service offered by ITG's configuration centre. "The configuration centre is a service available to our resellers, especially our VARs. The idea of it is we can do a lot of the configuration of the various components for them, charge them for that at a very competitive wholesale price that they can either absorb or on-charge to their customers at a margin, thus allowing VARs to concentrate on their core business."
The new software products won't be fully incorporated into the configuration centre until March, when ITG officially launches its new range to resellers. In the meantime Shnider says his company is busy bedding the products in. "So we're not actively making people aware yet, we're just trying to get the internal process all running smoothly. In fact we've been bedding it in for the last three months, going through quite intensive internal training sessions," he said.
These training sessions for IBM's software products have so far meant about 30 hours of study for ITG's sales representatives. "And we've probably got about another 30 hours planned between now and the end of March," said Shnider. He says the training for the Lotus products will probably not be as tough, as the range is not as broad, and ITG is already an extensive user of Lotus Notes.
"But that excludes our technical people," said Shnider, "who obviously have to go through the various certifications on the products."
Shnider says at the time of the March launch ITG will roll out a number of reseller support programs similar in fashion to those it already runs with other IBM products. While not finalised, these will probably include certification programs, sales training, demand generation activities and demonstration products.