A new breed
As a new breed of reseller emerges, and as Westcon seeks to become one of the standout cloud distributors in the world, Kuta believes the frontrunners are those who knew or started their cloud business and are adopting the subscription model, “they are there and they understand it.”
“They’re on board,” he adds. “Some will of course tail off and new resellers will enter the Westcon frame because the cloud is creating a new type of reseller.
“But we still have the more traditional reseller who will sell you a router or a service, and you may not see that reseller again for a long time whereas cloud resellers are developing long-term relationships.”
For partners operating in New Zealand, Australia and the wider world, Westcon’s message is that resellers of the past are not necessarily resellers of the future, with 60 percent of the company’s resellers failing to exist two years ago, instead born in the cloud.
From a revenue perspective that’s where education comes in, with Kuta adding that Westcon is already “actively talking” to resellers in terms of changing their mindset now they’re dealing with more volume but in time, the onus will then be on individual partners to excel.
“If you have a hundred customers that are subscribing, think about it. It’s not about the quick win it’s the long-term benefits and I believe Westcon, and distributorship in general have to keep educating and helping resellers make this move,” he explains.
“The marketplace will settle down in a year or two and things are going to change. What’s amazing is that even before I joined Westcon, during the past five years alone around 80 percent of my purchases have been in the cloud.
“Eventually everyone will say ‘oh its cloud’ and appreciate that there’s a marriage in there somewhere for everyone.”
Changing a mindset
But as the mindsets of the distributor and reseller change towards a more cloud-focused approach, personally, Kuta has also transitioned himself to the skies above.
Appreciating the “big shift” he made in moving from Coach to Westcon, Kuta recalls that in retail, “Coach is not going to make anything unless it’s a 65 point margin.”
Understandably, entering into a world where the margins are a lot thinner is a different ballgame entirely for Kuta, but six months into the role, and with a bag full of enthusiasm still at his disposal, there’s genuine excitement in the air as change becomes reality.
“Coming from the retail industry, and operating at a CIO level, the sector is of course hugely different to distribution,” he adds.
“If you look at it from an operational perspective, when you’re dealing with a retailer and you’re talking to a Product Manager, they get it, because they do it all the time. But in distribution it’s fair to say that’s a new education.
“Which is where I come in, it’s about using the Westcon website to advertise properly and cross sell which is a relatively new concept for the industry. But we’re injecting this mindset into the Westcon lexicon and it’s working.”
Following his appointment, alongside Steve Garrou as Executive Vice President, Strategy and Solutions Development, Kuta brought staff along from the retail industry, providing invaluable insight into how Westcon can best innovate across its channel.
“Every retailer you speak to, the first things they build is a platform that allows you to buy X, Y and Z, and that’s what we’re bringing to Westcon,” Kuta adds.
“In the distribution industry as a whole however, key industry players, including Westcon, can sometimes be guilty of being set in their ways in terms of thinking. For years distribution has believed that it isn’t sexy whereas retail just sells itself.”
Impassioned by the subject and forward-thinking in his vision for a better, more innovative Westcon, Kuta questioned why distribution is so willing to accept it’s merely back-end and warehouse management?
“Yes of course we have to do all of those things, and do them incredibly well, but why can’t we impose a positive experience for our resellers?” he adds. “That’s why we are introducing some of the main concepts of retail, not all of retail, but the parts that will be extremely powerful for resellers.”
With 2015 already four months down, and Westcon’s cloud momentum gathering pace, Kuta understands that now is the time to act, without delay, to ensure the company leads the way in the world of distribution.
“Bluesky,” adds Kuta, his one word response indicative of Westcon’s priorities at present. “We need to get this implemented.
“It’s a big one for us. We’re going to show our hand to the rest of the world soon so we need to make sure it is the best it can be.”
Landing the Bluesky marketplace will change the industry, and when the time comes for a distribution showdown, Kuta, as he exposes his hand, is confident of revealing a Cloud Flush.