Careers at CDW
CDW Corporation’s mission is to help its customers achieve their goals by providing them with the technology advice and products they need— when they need them.
CDW Corporation is a provider of integrated information technology solutions. The firm operates two reportable business segments:
- Corporate Segment – Serves small and medium/large private sector business clients in the U.S.
- Public Segment – Serves government agencies and education/healthcare institutions in the U.S.
Michael Krasny was a used car salesman at his dad’s Toyota dealership in Chicago. He didn’t like the job, though he did enjoy attempting to computerize the company’s finance and sales departments. At a certain point he quit and joined Burger King’s franchise school. Feeling dissatisfied with that, he dropped out and began to pursue a field he found promising – freelance computer programming.
Being that it was the 1980s, the field was relatively new, and computers were not yet widely prevalent. As such, Krasny had difficulty making a living. Needing money, he advertised his own computer for sale in a newspaper, for $1,500.To his surprise, the first responder to the ad bought it. The second responder, realizing that he was an expert, asked him to help mount a system.
Krasny bought a computer and set it up for the customer, charging a few hundred dollars. More people called in response to the initial ad, and he used the opportunity to offer system set ups for them, too. Many agreed, and he decided to make a business out of the activity. Launching it in 1984, he called it MPK Computing, but later changed it to CDW, short for Computer Discount Warehouse.
Over the next few years he bought, set up, and repaired countless computer systems. Many of his clients were so intimidated by the still nascent technology that they just wanted guidance on how to buy one, turn it on, and keep it running. As computers became easier to use and consumers became savvier, his focus shifted to PC sales.
At a certain point he realized that many of his sales were going to an individual buyer, a Chicago businessman who resold the products through mail-order at a $300 markup. Krasny saw the potential of a mail-order model, and decided to start one himself. He placed his first national ad in PC World Magazine for his firm, then hired a salesman to answer calls. CDW got numerous queries.
He advertised in more computer publications, publishing bigger ads. Business rolled in, and sales rose from $10 million in 1985 to $60 million in 1989. Part of Krasny’s success was differentiating himself in various areas. He was able to keep prices low by shipping a high volume of products. He also made customer service a cornerstone of his venture, offering fast delivery and tailored advice.
These two factors enabled CDW to develop a base of loyal, repeat users. The company’s sales rose to $100 million in 1991, and in the first half of the decade it became one of the top two direct marketers of computers, second only to Micro Warehouse. In 2003 CDW purchased Micro Warehouse, a sign of its dominance. In 2013 it went public under the name CDW Corporation.
Benefits at CDW
Business model of CDW
CDW has a segmented market business model, with customer groups that have slightly different needs. The company targets its offerings at organizations in the business, government, education, and healthcare sectors.
CDW offers three primary value propositions: customization, performance, and brand/status.
The company enables customization through its operations. Its segmentation of its customers by industry category enables it to personalize its offerings and provide enhanced expertise in developing and implementing its information technology solutions for clients. It also operates channel-specific sales teams and service delivery teams with extensive knowledge of the markets they serve.
The company demonstrates strong performance through tangible results. One high-profile case example involves a client that approached the company for guidance on how to ensure it had the appropriate licenses for any software it ran. The client had received an audit from one of its software vendors, Microsoft, revealing a $10 million compliance gap. A CDW Account Executive recommended a software license optimization tool, which tracked and managed licenses from major software vendors. The client implemented the tool. Not long afterwards, Microsoft performed a follow-up audit, which showed a gap of just $3 million. The tool had saved the client $7 million in fees.
The company has established a powerful brand due to its success. It generated $12.9 billion in 2015. It has 8,600 employees who serve 250,000 customers in 150 countries worldwide. Its full suite of offerings includes over 100,000 products from more than 1,000 emerging and leading partner firms. These firms include APC, Apple, Cisco, Dell, EMC, Google, HP Enterprise, IBM, Lenovo, Microsoft, NetApp, Samsung, Symantec, and Vmware. Lastly, it has won many honors, including the following:
- 15 Partner of the Year awards from Cisco, including Global Commercial Partner of the Year
- Recognition as one of the Top Veteran-Friendly Companies by S. Veterans Magazine
- DialogTech’s Excellence in Digital Marketing and Optimization Award
- Recognition as one of the Best Places to Interview among large companies by Glassdoor
- The Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics from the Better Business Bureau
CDW’s main channel is its direct sales team. It also sells products through vendor partners such as software publishers, original equipment manufacturers, and wholesale distributors. The company promotes its offerings through its website, social media pages, print/online/TV advertising, sponsorships, and participation in trade shows and conferences.
CDW’s customer relationship is primarily of a self-service nature. Customers utilize its products while having limited interaction with employees. The company’s website features a “Media Library” section that includes articles, case studies, data sheets, infographics, product reviews, reference guides, reports, videos, webinars, and white papers.
The site also features a section called “CDW Digital Experience” that includes technology insight guides and publications such as tech magazines. Despite this orientation, there is a personal assistance component in the form of phone and e-mail support from general customer service and assigned account managers.
CDW’s business model entails distributing IT products and delivering related services to its customers.
CDW’s key partners are the software publishers, original equipment manufacturers, and wholesale distributors that sell its products in order to expand its reach. It also partners with various tech firms to provide enhanced products and services for its customers; these firms include Apple, HP, Dell, Microsoft, and Lenovo.
CDW’s main resources are its human resources, who include the salespeople that promote and sell its offerings and the customer service personnel that provide support. It places a high priority on intellectual property, believing that its trademarks are important factors in its marketing programs.
CDW has a cost-driven structure, aiming to minimize expenses through significant automation and low-price value propositions. Its biggest cost driver is cost of sales, a variable expense. Other major drivers are in the areas of sales/marketing and administration, both fixed costs.
CDW has one revenue stream: revenues it generates from the sales of its products to its customers.
info: Thomas E. Richards earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and an M.S. in Management at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He previously served as President and Chief Operating Officer of CDW and as EVP and Chief Operating Officer of Qwest Communications.
info: Dennis G. Berger earned a BBA from Northeastern University and an MBA from Washington University. He previously spent 12 years at Pepsi-Cola s and five years at GTE Corporation, working in human resources and labor relations roles.
info: Mark Chong earned a Bachelor’s degree in Physics from the University of Chicago and an MBA at the University of Pennsylvania. He previously served as a partner at Bain & Company and held a variety of executive positions at Honeywell International.
info: Neal Campbell earned a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering at Bradley University and an MBA in Finance/Marketing at Northwestern University. He previously served as SVP and Chief Marketing Officer of CDW and as CEO of TrafficCast.
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