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Stir Up the IT Pot
By George L. Koroneos
Nearly a year ago, I watched Jeff Yelton—former ScanSource exec/current VAR guru—deliver a heated commentary on a panel at RetailNow explaining to solution providers that they had to adapt their business models to the changing times or face financial uncertainty. He didn’t mince any words, and the conversation drew a ton of buzz from the audience of VARs and vendors. One point hit home to me. He said that if Channel stakeholders don’t alter the way they currently do business (i.e., implement fixed income business models, add mobile solutions, think different, etc.) there’s a chance that an outside entity could come in with a solution that disrupts the whole industry.
During first week of April, news broke that Best Buy was going to outsource its Geek Squad to SMB resellers looking to hit new regions without increasing headcount. At first I thought nothing of it. Could Best Buy—a retailer that has been jokingly called Amazon’s showroom—convince solution providers to eschew the way they traditionally sell and implement solutions, and place their bets on a consumer support team? The answer appears to be, yes. Barely a week later, Best Buy made news again, by announcing that it was joining forces with Revel Systems, a solution provider that is making waves with its iPad hospitality solution that integrates Apple’s consumer device seamlessly with POS products from Epson, Magtek, and APG, to name a few.
I can’t fault Best Buy for trying to hit a new segment using its well-known Geek Squad brand. What frightens me is what this could mean for the Channel down the line. What’s stopping other large computer retailers from creating a similar program that cuts out the VAR all together? As of now, Best Buy has launched this service as a partner program for VARs looking to outsource POS implementation. What Best Buy decides to do down the road is anyone’s guess, but it will be interesting to see if this is the start of the paradigm shift that Yelton spoke about. I would love to hear your opinion on the topic. Please send your commentary to email@example.com.
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