P> Ingram Micro Launches State & Local Program
They're not No. 1 by accident. Ingram Micro Inc., the $8.6 billion company and the largest computer distributor, has expanded its government program to help state and local resellers. According to Curt Cornell, director of the Santa Ana, Calif., company's government program, Ingram has hired a state and local manager, and will conduct seminars in seven states, including California, Illinois and New York.
Ingram's expansion into the state and local market follows similar moves made last fall by Tech Data Corp. of Clearwater, Fla., the third largest distributor. The $3.1 billion company was the first to launch a government program for resellers several years ago. But Cornell denied that Ingram is trying to catch up and emulate publicly held Tech Data's programs.
He said, "The government division has done better than I ever could have imagined." Cornell would not disclose 1995 sales figures for his government division. Sometime during the second or third quarter, Ingram plans an initial public offering.
Meanwhile, Ingram will exhibit at three or more government-related trade shows this year and has augmented its Partnership America program to include 16 vendors. The program gives resellers and manufacturers discounts on services, such as consulting, legal assistance and marketing research.
It's Official: Partnerships Are In, Channels Are Out
Banish the term "channels," which sounds like a digestive tract, and promote "partnerships," which connote a more respectful relationship. That's what some vendors, such as database provider Sybase Inc., Emeryville, Calif., have done. They've altered the nomenclature to better describe the work they do with integrators and resellers.
For a company such as Sybase to call a "Big Six" accounting and consulting firm such as Price Waterhouse LLP, Bethesda, Md., or an integrator such as Electronic Data Systems Corp., Plano, Texas, a "channel" or "channel partner" just doesn't fit. So they've changed the name.
But the terms aren't completely pass?. PC manufacturers probably will continue to use the terms to describe the distributors, resellers, retailers and other companies that sell their products. After all, "channel" and "channel partner" describe what those companies provide: Routes used by manufacturers to reach their customers in a low-margin commodity business.
FedCenter Helps Government and Vendors Sort Through Tangled Web
David Beers, former marketer for both Government Technology Services Inc., Chantilly, Va., and Sun Microsystems Inc., Mountain View, Calif., has launched FedCenter to help vendors market their products more effectively to government users through the World Wide Web.
More than 80,000 businesses have developed home pages for the graphical portion of the Internet. But Beers thinks few executives understand the function of the Web, and therefore do not market effectively to potential customers. "It's easier to post and paste information. It's much harder to edit information and make the content meaningful," he said. Launched in November, Vienna, Va.-based FedCenter, which isn't incorporated, allows vendors to highlight their most recent product offerings to government users.
Because each vendor's page has the same format, Beers thinks his company's service will make life easier for government users. "There's a mentality out there among companies: 'I've got to have the mother of all Web sites.' But at a certain point, there's a diminishing rate of return -- you could put too much information there for customers" to digest. Beers also said his service allows users to compare similar groups of products easily.
What's the effect on resellers? The 12-employee FedCenter doesn't allow vendors to post pricing on the products, and they must each list five sources for their products, so the service does not allow government users to purchase through it.
So far, some government users and vendors are buying into FedCenter. Calling "hits" or the number of people who visit a Web site "a specious number," which needs qualifying, Beers said his service averages 40,000 to 50,000 hits per day, and the number doubles each month. At $7,500 per year, the service isn't cheap, but vendors receive a 90-day free trial. Some 65 to 70 vendors have signed up, including Informix Software Inc., Menlo Park, Calif.; Oracle Corp., Redwood Shores, Calif.; and Sybase Inc., Emeryville, Calif. Although he wouldn't disclose his first-year revenue goals, Beers said he wants to sign up 500 vendors by the end of this year.