CDW CEO: On growing services, cloud applications and reshaping IT

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CDW CEO Thomas Richards talks about how the services company can help customers with mobility issues and the BYOD challenge

Chances are you're already doing business with CDW. After all, the Vernon Hills, Ill.-based provider of tech products and services boasts more than a quarter-million customers to whom it ships more than 2,200 custom-configured systems every day (from a portfolio of more than 100,000 partner products). But CEO Thomas Richards wants you to think of CDW for more than just those new servers or storage devices. Richards has led a strategic push that has CDW now helping IT shops build private clouds, reselling cloud applications from Microsoft and Salesforce.com, among others, and providing its own managed and cloud services with partners like Cisco. In this installment of the IDG Enterprise CEO Interview Series, Richards spoke with Chief Content Officer John Gallant about how CDW is expanding its strategic services offering, and how mobility and consumerization are expanding growth opportunities for the company. He also talked about the rollout of Windows 8 and the Surface tablet, and why CDW is in an ideal position to capitalize on the big changes reshaping IT.

Tom, help our readers understand the mission of CDW, as well as some of the key areas of focus for the company today.

Our mission is to be the leading IT solutions provider in the markets we have chosen to serve. We state it that way because we're not going to try to be all things to all people. There are certain markets where we think we have a great value prop for customers and create great value, and there are other markets that are not in our sweet spot. We've set what we believe is an ambitious goal. That was done a couple years ago as part of a strategy process shortly after I got to CDW. We built that as the mission and then went through a pretty rigorous process of looking at what we do well, what markets we serve and what parts of the IT marketplace had some openings or opportunities where CDW could expand our capabilities.

We think that we bring value to two important groups of people in the IT world. One is customers and the other is our partners. We represent over 1,000 partners and 100,000 products. We have a technical sales organization of over 600, we've got a service delivery organization of over 600, and we've got a selling organization that's close to 2,500. We believe we've got the right combination of skills, resources, access, scale and scope to help both of our parties. The value proposition for our partners is that we provide a very efficient and effective, value-building and brand-building route to market. For customers, we bring choice to the marketplace. We bring the benefit of size, scale and scope. And we have now expanded our solution set to include a pretty strong technical and a service organization to enable us to help customers in a number of different parts of the IT world.

MORE: IDG Enterprise CEO Interview Series

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