Resellers could get the differentiator they need following a move by the IT Forum Foundation (ITFF) to take over and significantly broaden the government-backed Technology Means Business (TMB) scheme.
TMB is a kite-mark-style accreditation for VARs that certifies them as Approved Centres for supplying IT advice to SMEs.
Neil Southern, director of standards and qualifications at the Chartered Management Institute, which originally ran the TMB scheme, said: "This move puts the TMB within an establishment that is better connected with the IT sector and understands the needs of the channel. The ITFF has grand visions and will take TMB to another level."
The ITFF is a non-profit organisation that works with the government, standards bodies and IT firms to ensure education, law and technologies are in place to help UK businesses with IT.
Mike Briercliffe, chairman of the ITFF, said the TMB would function better closer to the IT sector.
"Last year we started the Pact project, a collaboration between non-profit organisations, such as the British Chambers of Commerce and the National Computing Centre, to get better standards into SME IT suppliers. The TMB is one of the cornerstones of this initiative," he said.
Briercliffe added that the ITFF intends to have the TMB qualification adopted on a wider basis throughout the channel.
"Part of Pact is to extend the TMB-like accreditation to include the whole sales cycle. TMB certifies advice, the start of the sales process, but we want to cover sales and implementation, and provide customer assurances at the end," he said.
Microsoft, Intel, BT, Hewlett-Packard and McAfee are all members of the TMB scheme.
Wayne Grafton, northern European channel director at McAfee, said: "It's a way for VARs to differentiate and get customer confidence. VARs know they have to be trusted by their customers to get investment, and this could help them find that trust."
Steve Wood, managing director of TMB Approved Centre Parity ICT, said: "The new concept is great. It's a win for end-users: they get trusted, quality implementation. It's a win for resellers: they get competitive advantage, a win for supporting vendors and a win for UK plc because it moves us up the e-adoption ladder."
But Wood added that the scheme will work only if end-users know what the certification stands for.
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