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Westcon opens up about Romanian outsourcing move

Distributor Westcon has revealed a business process outsourcing (BPO) firm with operations in Romania will take charge of some of its EMEA finance and operations functions. Parent company Datatec announced yesterday that 300 of Westcon's 1,900 EMEA staff would be affected by a "BPO transformation" of its EMEA operations.

Westcon senior vice president David Grant revealed a phased migration of the functions in question will occur between now and mid-2017 and insisted service levels for resellers would not be affected. Although Grant was not in a position to divulge Westcon's BPO partner, he described it as a global outfit "in the top-right of the Gartner Magic Quadrant". "We separated our activities into those we see as transactional and those that add value to the customers and vendors," he said. "Anything that is very transactional we have decided to outsource to another organisation as it gives us scale and efficiency."

The outsourcing project will run alongside Westcon's impending European implementation of a global SAP project, Grant said, adding that affected employees may be offered other roles in the organisation. "It is not a case of everything changing on day one," he said. "Where roles are affected we will give people significant advance notice, as it's the responsible thing to do. We are growing, and while some transactional roles will be eliminated from the business, some new opportunities will be created so we will take as much time as we can to retrain and redeploy staff where it is appropriate to us."

Westcon, which operates through the Comstor and Westcon brands, has order-processing staff in 42 countries in EMEA, Grant said, adding that any staff whose roles are displaced will be offered the choice of staying on to help with the migration. Employee and other fees associated with the migration will cost parent Datatec about €11.5m in its current financial year.

Rival distributor Ingram Micro centralised more EMEA back-office functions to Sofia in Bulgaria last year.

Grant said it made more sense for Cisco, Avaya, Polycom, Juniper and Check Point partner Westcon to partner with a BPO outfit with knowledge of the region. "We have chosen an organisation where it is their core business to provide business processes and support," he said. "We are not experts in sourcing a facility or finding local language specialists and training them on what we do."

Romania, which is where the BPO firm in question will carry out Westcon's transactional work, was ranked fourth in an index of the top global BPO locations this year carried out by Cushman & Wakefield, behind Vietnam, the Philippines and Bulgaria. Grant emphasised that Westcon's "core value-add" will be retained in-house and claimed that neither customer service levels nor its ability to execute would be affected by the move. "Our top 10 vendor partners have all offered to make sure there is good knowledge transfer and are helping to train our BPO staff," he said. "If you think about it, most of our major vendors have some part of their organisation that is outsourced so are completely familiar with what support they can give us."

Graeme Watt, EMEA president at rival distributor Avnet Technology Solutions, confirmed his company has also made some steps towards centralising transactional functions, "but nothing like on the scale we are seeing with Westcon". "It is fair to say that everybody is looking to see how much of that non-technical, more run-rate, transactional operations they can centralise," he said. "We have been talking about it for a while and we will centralise functions and operations where we think it makes sense and keep things local where we think it makes sense." (source: Channelweb United Kingdom).

Another acquisition for Ingram Micro

After Canai, Clarity, Aptec, Armada, Anovo and most recently DOCdata, the American giant broadliner continues its acquisition spree with Brazilian network and security VAD AÇÃO, which ought to become its local Advanced Solutions division. In addition to a portfolio of higher value products, including those from strategic vendors such as IBM, Oracle, Red Hat, EMC and VMware, AÇÃO also provides integration services, sales support and financial services, with operations in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay. AÇÃO key leadership has agreed to join Ingram Micro upon close of the transaction to assist in the integration and help drive continued growth and expanding profitability across the combined business thereafter. The transaction, which is subject to customary regulatory and other closing conditions, is expected to close late in the 2015 fourth quarter. AÇÃO is expected to contribute in excess of €270m in annual value-add solutions revenue to Ingram Micro and be modestly accretive to 2016 full year non-GAAP earnings per share.

Ingram Micro CEO Alain Monié commented, "As evidenced by a history of strong operating margin contribution, Ingram Micro has been extremely successful in rapidly expanding our high value business in Latin America, particularly in Brazil, where we are already established as one of the leading overall technology distributors and have enjoyed strong double digit growth rates in local currency for many quarters. AÇÃO's position as a key solutions value-added distributor is a perfect complement to our rapidly growing higher margin business in the region. The company has a long history of strong business fundamentals, and brings experienced management in an emerging geography that remains attractive for Ingram Micro over the long-term. We expect to realize meaningful vendor cross-selling opportunities in the countries we share, as together we will have a significantly expanded portfolio of high value offerings to better serve our customers. We look forward to AÇÃO joining Ingram Micro and we are confident the addition will enable us to build further on the region's revenue and profitability contribution."

Enio Issa, Grupo AÇÃO president, added, "Ingram Micro is the perfect partner for AÇÃO to help us continue to drive our established and fast growing high value business in Latin America and I am confident that together we can further accelerate the strong performance our individual companies have provided for our customers. Ingram Micro understands how to successfully conduct business in the region and we are excited to join such a globally recognized world class organization.".

Ingram Micro to acquire Docdata's e-commerce business

The American broadliner Ingram Micro has entered into a definitive agreement under which it will acquire DOCdata Nederland and DOCdata International, e-commerce fulfillment businesses of publically-traded, Netherlands-based, DOCdata for approximately €157m. Docdata is a major European provider of order fulfilment, returns logistics and online payment services, providing critical commerce solutions to major retailers, brands and promising start-ups. Docdata currently handles between 125,000 and 250,000 orders on a daily basis, with major operations in Germany, Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The company is expected to contribute in excess of €135m in annual services revenue to Ingram Micro and to contribute 5 to 7 cents to 2016 non-GAAP earnings per share.

Docdata will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Ingram Micro. Docdata CEO Michiel Alting von Geusau will continue to lead the company, reporting directly to Ken Beyer, Ingram Micro executive vice president commerce and fulfillment solutions. In addition to customary regulatory and other closing conditions, the transaction requires approval of a majority of outstanding shares at a special meeting of DOCdata shareholders, which is expected to take place toward the end of the 2015 fourth quarter.

Ingram Micro CEO Alain Monié commented, "Adding Docdata's broad-based suite of commerce solutions to our existing portfolio of global services will bring critical mass to our commerce and fulfillment solutions business in Europe. Docdata is a well-established e-commerce fulfillment company and is highly respected by brands and retailers for its ability to deliver a timely and cost-effective buyer experience. Docdata's solutions are an excellent complement to our existing commerce and fulfillment offerings, including our rapidly expanding Shipwire service delivery platform. This acquisition is fully aligned with our strategic objective to leverage Ingram Micro's broad geographic reach and world class vendor and customer relationships, and we expect to accelerate Docdata's ability to drive rapid expansion of its services offerings across the continent and beyond. The Ingram Micro team and I look forward to the opportunity to work closely with Michiel and his world-class team."

Alting von Geusau added, "We are excited to partner with Ingram Micro and believe this transaction delivers significant value to our shareholders. I strongly believe Ingram Micro is the best partner for our clients and employees going forward and I am excited at the prospect of Docdata becoming a part of such a globally recognized and respected company."

Microsoft Surface Hub available for businesses

Microsoft has announced that Microsoft Surface Hub, its new large-screen collaboration device, is available for businesses to order in 24 markets (Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Qatar, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States) since July 1. Breakthrough hardware innovations in touch and ink allow Surface Hub to harness the power of Windows 10, Skype for Business, Office, OneNote and Universal Windows apps to deliver a new kind of productivity experience optimized for groups. The unique experience is designed to be just as engaging for people working together in the same room as for those connecting remotely. To meet the needs of a variety of rooms and spaces, Surface Hub is available in two main configurations: Surface Hub 139,7-cm for €6,280, and Surface Hub 213,4-cm for €17,950. Surface Hub delivers the power and versatility of a complete, cloud-connected Windows 10 device along with the simplicity and consistency of a custom interface that is built for shared spaces. The device is designed for anyone to walk up and use, providing an engaging way to share ideas and information. Right from the welcome screen it's easy to start white-boarding, initiate a videoconference or share content, but that's just the beginning. Businesses will be able to draw from a wide variety of Windows apps to put real-time data and business tools at the center of meetings, helping them gain insights and reach decisions faster. By connecting the industry-specific Universal Windows apps that organizations rely on to manage their business processes with an engaging remote meeting and collaboration solution, Surface Hub brings a new level of innovation and efficiency to the way people work. And as a Windows 10 device, the Surface Hub benefits from Windows Update for Business, providing access to the latest innovation and security updates on an ongoing basis. The Surface Hub experience is designed around a highly responsive screen built for ink and touch. Both versions of Surface Hub are integrated with optically bonded displays capable of detecting 100 points of multitouch and up to three simultaneous pen inputs, dual 1080p front-facing video cameras, and a four-element microphone array that detects and follows voice to eliminate background noise during videoconferencing sessions. Surface Hub also features built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC and a variety of ports for easy wired and wireless connectivity options, allowing devices to share content to the screen. Microsoft is working closely with a set of strategic partners to make it easy for businesses to deploy Surface Hub into their organizations in a way that naturally integrates into their existing rooms and IT environments. A variety of companies are embracing Surface Hub, including distributors enabling global reach like ALSO, Ingram Micro, Synnex, Tech Data and TD Maverick (although a detailed coverage has not been unveiled at time of publication), and strategic resellers which bring industry expertise in hardware, software and solutions. In addition, through partnerships with global leaders in advanced control, automation and conferencing systems like AMX and Crestron, and working with innovative design thought leaders like Herman Miller, Microsoft is thinking about collaboration spaces holistically and putting Surface Hub at the center of workspace transformation initiatives.

Tech Data to acquire Signature Technology Group

United States: broadliner Tech Data has entered into an agreement to acquire certain assets of Signature Technology Group, a provider of data center and professional services throughout North America. STG's services will be offered through Tech Data's Advanced Infrastructure Solutions (AIS) division, the company's data center business in the Americas. STG's data center services enable solution providers across all verticals to maximize their clients' technology investments, strategically improve service levels, reduce risk, and contain costs. STG offers partner-led IT professional services that deploy technology physically and virtually, cloud assessments and migrations, and technical staffing to ensure that IT departments have skilled resources and coverage. The STG team holds certifications across 23 original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and its technicians, deployed in customers' IT environments, support over 300,000 devices throughout North America. Founded in Phoenix, Ariz. in 1990, STG was named to the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Private Companies List in 2014, the CRN Fast Growth 150 in 2013, and the CRN Fast Growth 100 in 2012. Charles Layne, president and chief executive officer at STG, along with the entire STG team, will join Tech Data. He will assume the role of president, Signature Technology Group at Tech Data and report directly to Bartlett in the company's AIS division.


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