Reseller News Roundtable: Magnifying mobility in New Zealand - How is the traditional Kiwi reseller evolving?

Reseller News Roundtable: Magnifying mobility in New Zealand - How is the traditional Kiwi reseller evolving?

Dell, HP, Microsoft, VMware and key channel partners Cyclone Computers and Elite Business Systems debated that in a changing channel environment, how can resellers earn the title of trusted advisor?

At Ostro Brasserie & Bar in Auckland, Reseller News debated the future of mobility in New Zealand, outlining the key channel plays for 2016 in association with Dell, HP Inc, Microsoft and VMware and key channel partners.

At Ostro Brasserie & Bar in Auckland, Reseller News debated the future of mobility in New Zealand, outlining the key channel plays for 2016 in association with Dell, HP Inc, Microsoft and VMware and key channel partners.

“There is a still role for value-added distributors, but the key is that they have to truly provide the value,” Jack adds. “But if I use a value-added distributor, am I lessening the value to that customer?”

As a value-added distributor in New Zealand, a new approach is also required to tackle emerging market opportunities, as the industry becomes crowded with new and emerging solutions and a fight for mindshare among partners and prospects.

“Distributors need to transform and provide the technical support to the smaller reseller, because they can’t afford that resource,” Kendrick adds.

“They are doing at presently but it comes with a huge cost and the return is not the same as before.”

Specific to Kiwi shores, James Arnold, Country Manager, Dell New Zealand, believes the market is divided in terms of how distribution is utilised across the country, and the different markets within it.

“There’s the big end of the market in Auckland and Wellington, and then small business New Zealand, which from a Dell perspective, is the majority of companies,” Arnold explains.

“And that is a different end of the market. It’s serviced by local resellers than have great relationships with distributors and have built great business models to best serve the spread of the market in New Zealand.

“But are we reaching a path where everything will be easier online? Sure, but there’s a long tail before we get there in terms of the remote parts of New Zealand.”

In citing Dell’s recent distribution agreement with Ingram Micro in August 2015, Arnold says the deal has helped Dell access untapped and previously inaccessible areas of the New Zealand market.

“It’s all about reaching those players,” he adds. “I can’t reach local customers in New Plymouth as easy as my distributor and there’s where we see two different worlds - the small business segment and the large enterprise space.

“Because of this I believe there’s still huge roles to play for distributors with regards to local resellers, as there are different requirements and needs for different parts of New Zealand.”

Despite the same land mass as Japan, in New Zealand at present, 97 percent of enterprises have fewer than 20 employees, accounting for 473,848 businesses across the land.

James Arnold - Country Manager, Dell New Zealand
James Arnold - Country Manager, Dell New Zealand

Delving deeper, 69 percent of enterprises have zero employees, while 30 percent of employees in New Zealand are employed by enterprises with fewer than 20 employees, representing 597,500 businesses.

“We need distributors to provide that reach,” Kendrick adds.

Partner collaboration

For some partners in New Zealand, a way to better meet the demands of customers is to combine forces with complementary partners to develop, deliver and deploy end-to-end solutions.

“Part of what we’re seeing in the local channel today focuses heavily on partner to partner collaboration,” Kendrick adds. “If you think about mobility and the line of business parch, bringing partners together to sell an end-to-end solution is a compelling offering for customers.”

As vendors such as Microsoft facilitate this collaboration in the channel, naturally partners remain cautious about exposing customers and contacts to rival resellers, with the potential loss of control a mitigating factor.

“Traditionally speaking, we lean towards conservatism in terming of working with others,” Jack admits. ”It’s a tricky approach and finding the right partner to meet our needs and requirements remains difficult.”

Delving deeper, Arnold acknowledges that while partner collaboration can add value to resellers, “it’s obviously challenging” in a competitive market.

“In the main, partners do compete,” he acknowledges. “But if you take a partner such as Elite Business Systems who are strong in the Waikato region, if opportunity arises in the South Island do you employ staff or partner in that area.

“We see a lot of reverse partnerships throughout New Zealand. But perhaps in Cyclone’s case, as a national player, this may not be relevant. However, a partnership focused on particular capabilities remains a viable option.”

For Hopkins, partner collaboration depends on the market conditions, and the role of the reseller within it.

“Cyclone and Elite Business Systems operate in different markets,” he explains. “Cyclone are education specialists whereas Elite specialise in a geography so naturally, there are fundamental differences in terms of a partner to partner approach.”

Hopkins says that mobility, and all it encompasses, is a very broad topic by its nature, leading to varied interpretations and use cases.

Andrew Fox - Director of Business Mobility, VMware
Andrew Fox - Director of Business Mobility, VMware

In agreement, Arnold believes that possessing the depth of knowledge across mobility, security, data, cloud, applications and devices is a tall order for partners, who lack the resources to possess deep expertise through a range of solutions and offerings.

“That’s when the vendor can come in and add value for the partner,” he adds. “We have resources to help the channel engage and utilise other resources. If required we can bring in non-competitive, complimentary partners that can help resellers push business deals over the line.”

Drawing on the stark differences of Auckland and Wellington from a market perspective, Drayton believes the need for collaboration remains strong in the channel, built around the need to deliver more complex and varied solutions.

“In the conversations we are having, we see some unlikely bedfellows,” he says. “Some are partners we never thought would work with each other within the mobility space and as a vendor we are often playing the broker, telling our resellers to make contact with X, Y and Z.”

Yet as Davies points out, from a reseller perspective, sales managers and consultants still prefer to own the customer relationship, leading to pushback from segments of the partner community.

“As Kiwis we are very much about getting on with the job and not reaching out for support when we should,” he acknowledges. “We have a very proactive sales team but that approach needs to change and we need to utilise the contacts of our vendors.”

As Jack observes, with the local market “not getting any easier”, the dynamics of the channel has changed, triggering a change of approach from resellers seeking growth.

“Traditionally, Cyclone is a procurement led organisation but we are building out our services infrastructure to be more services led and procurement secondary,” he explains. “We are very much on that road because if you’re just selling boxes, then you’re not going to be around for much longer.

“We have a core mobility team who advise customers on how to best utilise devices and that’s a real point of difference and that’s how we are building out our business for the future.”

With customers looking at partners to take the IT helm to allow the business to focus on innovation, Cyclone’s change of approach offers a blueprint for resellers resistant to change, as transformation continues to disrupt the local channel.

In closing, and with direct reference to Cyclone’s renewed market focus, Fox, in agreement with the vendor community, nodded in agreement.

“You’re bang on the money,” he observed, concluding a discussion that channel partners need to have.

For part 1 of the Reseller News Roundtable: Magnifying mobility in New Zealand, how is the Kiwi workplace changing? please click here

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