BT's recently merged IT services businesses have consolidated their vendor and supplier partners.
Engage IT, Business Direct and Dabs traditionally worked with up to 60 distributors, but this has been slashed to fewer than 15 following the completion of an invitation to tender process.
John Thornhill – who heads up the enlarged, 1,200-strong business – said the distributors had been selected on the basis of how well they map onto its vendor partners, which have also been rationalised.
"We are consolidating our strategic partnerships with key vendors at the front end and key distributors and logistics partners at the back end," Thornhill told ChannelWeb.
"The aim is to build fewer long-term strategic partnerships that will be with us on our journey to grow the business," he said. "It will also allow us to take advantage of new technology in our IT system, where we can do more directly with EDI, for instance."
As well as cementing ties with long-time strategic allies such as HP and Microsoft, BT is forging new partnerships with niche manufacturers including Palo Alto.
Thornhill said 80 per cent of the most serious security threats are now coming from the application level and that Palo Alto addresses that.
"Clearly that's a capability they have that we need," he said.
Thornhill said it is important for the business to be "clear about where it plays" in relation to BT's Cisco-specialist arm BT iNet.
"We will still work with Cisco, but clearly we have an in-house specialism there in iNet," he explained. "Where we encounter Cisco opportunities we will work with them to back off the complicated stuff."
Before their merger in September, BT Engage IT addressed the upper midmarket, BT Business Direct focused on the 20-500-seat space and Dabs had a consumer/SOHO bent.
Thornhill said the enlarged business, which is now being billed as the IT services arm of BT Business, probably will not be rebranded until March or April next year.
"We haven't come to a decision yet, but have done quite a lot of work on how well the existing brands travel in terms of the look and feel of an integrated IT services business," he explained. "There's also the question of how we want the consumer brand to play alongside the business brand and whether we keep them separate."
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