Standing outside looking in

Standing outside looking in

After reporting on the IT industry in New Zealand, in particular the channel, for a year and a half, I’m moving on (but not too far). Come the next issue of
Reseller News, I will have shifted about five metres within the Fairfax Business Media office to a publication with a different focus, namely PC World.

In the past 18 months I have met many influential players in the industry here and in the process discovered a healthy and fun, yet sometimes fragile, IT environment. Being extremely channel-centric, the tech community is a great industry to write about and the personalities have made for some fantastic stories.

Consider this editorial a young outsider’s look at the industry. I’m not one to give advice and these are merely observations from my point of view, but the channel needs someone standing outside looking in.

Three issues have stood out:

• The channel model is thriving in the industry, more so than in any other country I can think of. Because of this there seems to be little willingness to explore other models and ‘direct sales’ is a not-very-much-appreciated expression. The recent shake up at Dell will test the channel severely and could even open up dual channels across the board. I think there is a place for both indirect and direct sales and resellers must earn their position by ensuring their selling methods are viable and profitable.

• There is perhaps one degree of separation in this industry and I’m not sure if that is healthy. Businesses can gain a great deal from working at a personal level among those they know, but I think IT organisations in New Zealand are at a serious disadvantage when it comes to securing global business. The channel needs to learn from the way global IT business is done and adopt a long-term view on doing business outside its comfort zone in New Zealand.

• There is no such thing as a “total solution”. I must have heard the term 1000 or so times working on Reseller News, but I believe a total solution is detrimental to the channel as a whole. There is everything to gain in adding value to a sale and most know that’s where the real money is. However, assembling a so-called total solution is near impossible and most will benefit from working with partners from the first contact by a customer.

Looking back on my time on Reseller News there are some people and events that stand out. I would describe the community in these few words; friendly, to the point and willing to listen. The people in the business define the channel’s direction and I have been lucky enough to meet with those that keep the wheels greased and spinning.

The Reseller News team would like to thank Jan for all his fine work on the newspaper and assure him that moving a few metres away isn’t far enough to get too comfortable...

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