Historically, the channel has forged a reputation as an industry based on cut-throat competition between partners, built on a precarious foundation of trust.
Yet today, in an area of new technologies and emerging Gen Y workforces, highly specialised businesses are emerging, with collaboration now viewed as a viable means of survival in the market.
As outlined at EDGE 2016, Australia and New Zealand’s leading destination channel conference, the notion of partner-to-partner has matured in time, reflecting the new dynamics of the channel.
“Traditionally, when partners have worked with other partners, there is an underlying belief that they will get screwed by someone taking their account or doing something untoward,” Insentra managing director, Ronnie Altit, said.
Building a business
Built out of ongoing frustrations when resourcing the delivering of deals already won, Insentra’s partner model of engagement focuses around providing professional and managed services, including project planning and management in partnership with the channel.
“In the past six and a half years, I’ve seen every reason why some partners don’t want to partner,” Altit added. “The fundamental basis of that is trust, there needs to be a fundamental baseline of trust.”
Despite the risks however, the ARN and Reseller News panel outlined that despite the risks, in 2016, collaboration is often the driver behind keeping a business above the bottom line.
“Every partner out there owns their customers and if they don’t own it, they think they own it,” Altit added.
“The sense of ownership is still important to a partner because that feeling of connection and ownership is what allows them to deliver to their customer at the end of the day.
“However, it’s so broad now that you have got to collaborate. If you want to own your customer end-to-end you have to partner with other resellers.”
Echoing Altit’s observations on stage, Hosted Network managing director, Ben Town, explained how collaboration has been fundamental behind the company’s growth in the market.
“We started out as an MSP and transformed because we were already leveraging other partners to grow our business,” he said.
Hosted Network is a white label Australian Cloud Provider (CSP), and is considered as one of the most innovative service providers across the country, providing cloud offering including premium Internet services, VoIP, and VMware powered Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Desktop as a Service (DaaS) and among others.
“Whilst this was going on, we didn’t realise that we had something that other partners were coming back to us as well and with that trust element, is how we built our business,” Town added.
On the topic of building a business, Four Nines managing director, George Kazangi, agreed that the concept of collaboration also repressed the catalyst for the launch of the business, which went live in June.
As reported by ARN, Four Nines offers technology services to resellers, MSPs and distributors that have limited technical services capabilities.
“The reason we started the business was because we saw a gap in technical services from both the capacity as well as pure skill sets for most value-added resellers (VARs),” Kazangi added. “This gap meant that you needed to partner with others to really deliver a solution for a customer.”
In describing his business as a collaborative “testing platform” to get into the market, Kazangi said that once other partners have scale, Four Nines will subsequently bring services back in.
“The channel is so wide that you are going to partner with someone eventually in one kind of new, emerging speciality,” he explained.
“Whether it’s a hyper-converged or some other new technology because partners are never going to invest in that on day one. They will always test the waters first.”
In 1983, when the first cohort of Gen Y was born, Australia’s GDP was approaching a $245.6 million valuation.
By 2007, this had risen to $1.04 trillion, with Gen Y Australia experiencing a relatively healthy job market for a number of years.
Approaching a decade later, Tech Research Asia industry analyst, Mark Iles, believes the continued impact of Gen Y has given rise to the acceleration of partnering within the channel, built off the willingness of a generation to collaborate.
“Gen Y partners are more open to collaboration as often they are niche businesses, so they kind of have to partner,” he said. “I think it’s a combination of have to and want to, but there is definitely a more collaborative gene in the younger demographic.”
Backed up by Town, the panel concluded that the younger generation are more open and trusting because they have spent less time in the market, compared to many of the other partners who are Gen X or Baby Boomers as business owners.
“The younger generation, particularly with startups for example, haven’t yet had bad experiences and there is a positive mindset there to collaborate because the risk isn’t there because they haven’t felt it yet,” Town added.
Coupled with the Gen Y driving force, Altit said the concept of collaboration has also worked up through the channel to reach the vendors.
“Vendors can make the biggest difference if a vendor tells a partner you can trust this partner, then it carries a lot of weight,” he said.
“They are all talking the message, but the reality is that it will open happen when the partner community gets to a point where they are comfortable to do it.”
For Town, working collaboratively with Huawei has opened new avenues for collaboration with other like-minded channel partners.
“I think it is getting better,” he added. “I’m finding vendors we deal with now specifically are connecting us to other partners. They specialise in one area that we don’t and that wouldn’t have happened without that vendor connection being the broker.”
Delving deeper, Kazangi believes vendors need to focus more on the organisations that are partnering to deliver their solutions.
“I think sometimes vendors are too focused on naming the sales and sometimes forgetting that organisations such as ours are enablers,” he added.
“They forget that we also assist their other partners in making that sale and the bigger vendors have not yet grasped onto that.”
As the channel edges closer together, the panel remained united in the belief that partner-to-partner represented a "customer-driven model", prompted by new demands of the end-user.
“Customers want collaboration because they want better solutions,” Iles explained.
“Everything must be driven by the customer. What are the APIs in your organisation? It’s an interesting way to think about your business.
"How is the customer thinking about their technology stack? How easy are we as an organisation to connect with?”
EDGE is designed to bring the Australia and New Zealand channel together in a collaborative and educational environment, providing vendors, distributors and partners with the competitive advantage necessary to bring continued success in 2016 and beyond.