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Summer 2010
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Marketing Makeover
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SMBs Under Attack
Marketing Planning Study
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Ask the Engineers

Ingram Micro's Experts Respond to Solution Provider Questions.

Ingram Micro's Solution Centers in Buffalo, N.Y., and Santa Ana, Calif., are staffed by certified engineers on call to answer your questions. Here they answer some important questions about Windows 7, digital signage and unified communications.

Q: What should I be doing to prepare my business customers for a new Microsoft operating system?

A: IT professionals can download Windows 7 now, so it's a great time to start learning and testing solutions. The feedback from the industry is that Windows 7 is what customers have been waiting for. Microsoft worked hard at taking Windows Vista feedback and incorporating it into Windows 7, so it has greatly improved hardware compatibilities and deals with system requirement concerns. Plus, it will run well on older systems. Microsoft also has solutions for Windows 7 application compatibility, such as XP Mode. This release is going to meet the needs of businesses of all sizes, and demand will be high.

Tom Mann, Microsoft Solution Center Engineer

Q: The opportunity to sell digital signage products from Cisco to my business customers looks attractive, but what kind of expertise or certifications do we need before we can begin?

A: Digital signage provides a great marketing opportunity for end users to deliver messaging to their customers. The good news is that Cisco does not require additional certifications to sell this solution, and no extensive networking expertise is needed. Content for digital signage typically requires constant updating, but solution providers can develop that expertise in-house as a new service offering. The Cisco solution also has the ability to provide more than static content; it allows for live streaming content that can be applied to everything from emergency messaging in school systems to focused training for end-user employees. Through the Ingram Micro Solution Center, partners can evaluate the feasibility of the Cisco solution as a profitable business practice, and receive training, demos, and take part in webinars with our engineers.

Peter Avino, Cisco Systems Engineer and Instructor

Q: What's the best way to begin rolling out a unified communications strategy for my customers?

A: The purpose of a UC strategy is to facilitate a business process. So when planning for a specific customer, answer this question: What are the barriers to communication? Then, begin rolling out a strategy that breaks down those barriers. Rip-and-replace is an option, but starting out small is typically the best way, and leads to the least resistance. One option is to start with voice mail -- unifying a customer's messaging with Cisco Unity or Microsoft Exchange 2007. Both will work with existing phone systems, they don't change the user workspace, and the benefits will be immediately noticeable. Another option is to roll out presence and instant messaging that can both be fully integrated with fixed and mobile phones later. Whichever path you choose, the sooner you demonstrate the benefits of UC first-hand, the better.

Michael Mason, Cisco Solution Center Engineer

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