CDW is one of (if not the) the largest leaders of selling computer products (hardware, software, networking) via telephone, online and catalogues. It’s not just an online retailer but it’s dedicated staff of sales representatives help customers find solutions.
On many occasions I’ve called CDW and their reps have helped with sales, support and finding solutions to complex situations. The problem I’ve found, however, is that CDW has frequent turn over of reps. So in January you’ll have rep Joe and in July it could be rep Mary.
Through a network of solutions providers, on contract to provide local services, CDW also can be an “out-sourced” IT department to your small business.
According to CRN, CDW recently purchased Berbee Information Networks for $175 million in cash. CDW writes – This now gives CDW of one of the premier IBM, Cisco and Microsoft enterprise solution providers in the country, CDW immediately acquires expertise in server consolidation, virtualization, VoIP and unified communications. What’s more, CDW gains a robust managed services and hosting business out of two Midwest data centers and more than 300 billable engineers working at customer locations.
CDW Chairman and CEO John Edwardson said he intends to use the services muscle and expertise Berbee has developed in enterprise accounts and drive those solutions down into CDW’s base of SMB accounts.
How does this affect you?
It’s a given that you do need to have a local consultant who can help your business evolve with technology (strategic analysis/consulting) and of course fix things when they go wrong.
You have a few choices, sometimes it’s a blend of two of the same.
1. Develop a relationship with your independent computer consultant. Often they’ll have a relationship with one or more tech vendors such as Microsoft or HP for example.
2. You’ve then got Best Buy’s Geeksquad, now CDW and other “name brand” companies who have consulting divisions they own.
3. Finally, there’s companies that use independent computer consultants (CDW has this option as well, so does CompUSA and others). The company hopes you buy hardware and software from them, via your consultant.
In the end, you want a consultant who has been around for a decent amount of time and will continue to do so. One who does not have so many clients that you get lost in the crowd and don’t get the attention you need. You also have to consider, do you want to be a small fish in a big pond (you might feel like this with Gaeeksquad for example) or a BIG fish in a small pond (you’ll feel like this with a smaller solution provider that has you and 10 others as clients).