Scansource Sees Bright Future in Unified Communications

By Charlene O'Hanlon Comments
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Scansource Communications is betting big on unified communications as a moneymaker for its channel partners in 2011.

On the heels of its inaugural partner conference in Austin, where unified communications was the theme, the value-added distributor is banging the UC drum with its partner customers as they work to incorporate unified communications into their business models.

“Our resellers are all figuring out they need to have a unified communications practice in their business," said Buck Baker, president of Scansource Communications. “We believe that was a factor [in our revenue gains in 2010] and we hope that will continue to grow in 2011."

Indeed, he noted, Scansource Communications believes unified communications presents the largest opportunity for resellers in the coming year, which also presents a major opportunity for the distributor.

“The biggest opportunity for our resellers is unified communications, and that includes voice, video and data. Scansource is positioned the best of any distributor because of our line card. Plus, we’ve got the value-added services to add with those products – we feel like ourselves and our vendors are the channel’s backstop."

The company is working hard to ensure its reseller customers are equipped not only through the right mix of hardware and software, but also through training on both the technology and the sales and marketing needed to successfully bring UC to their clients. As such, Scansource Communications earlier this month held its first-ever partner conference, bringing together its stable of vendors and its ranks of partner customers for two days of information and educational sessions.

“We starting thinking about whether it made sense to have a partner conference, plus we started having discussions with some of our vendors about it," Baker said. “Some, like Polycom, have one every year, and they felt like it was a good idea simply because a lot of resellers that buy through distribution don’t attend their events. … So we started thinking about it some more and decided it probably made sense to have one, to have resellers that buy through us attend and Polycom and other vendors could get that exposure."

Baker also noted that the event gives resellers a chance to network – something many resellers believe is important to growing their business. “Resellers really like to network a lot," he said. “They like to understand what each other is doing in their territories and they like to share that information."

While the company is enjoying success with its current communications offerings, Buck said Scansource Communications is looking at ways the distributor can make its mark as alternative ways to offer communications technologies emerge.

“A lot of resellers are still premises-based, but there are the managed providers out there, the hosted services and cloud – you hear all this. We are going to be looking at to see if it makes sense for Scansource to be in that mix for the channel," he said. “We’re hearing a good bit of feedback from our resellers that most end users are still doing capital expenditures but some want the option of maybe looking at ways to have communications be an operating expenditure. So it’s something we are looking at."

Additional reporting by Stacy Whitley.

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