Through the evolution of technology and communication, businesses are radically reshaping, creating increased innovation and competition.
But while the market marvels at networks that run faster than F1 cars, or an electricity grid that thinks for it, the real connection lies not in the technology, but within the channel.
“We have around 60-70 partners in Australia and only have one or two partners operating in specific areas and in specific regions, so it’s critical for us to join the dots,” explained Huawei channel sales director, Leo Lynch, during day one of EDGE 2016.
Taking the stage at ARN and Reseller News’ leading destination channel conference in Hamilton Island, Lynch said that through combining complementary forces, built around a thriving ecosystem, partners can meet the changing demands of enterprise, servicing customers through a collective approach.
“We need the ecosystem to work together,” he said. “It’s the essence of our survival. We don’t have services because we want our partners to do the implementation, the warranty and so on.
“That’s our disruptive channel model, we want to be able to offer more revenue for our partners.”
With a wide range of products spanning storage, energy infrastructure and network security, coupled with the number of partners who specialise in particular areas, Lynch said the expanding vendor requires its smaller-scale ecosystem to work together on both sides of the Tasman.
In short, no one has all the answers, with partners capable of providing X, Y and Z, yet lacking in A, B and C.
Consequently, Huawei courts partners with core competencies, such as Australian cloud hosting provider, Hosted Network.
Outlined on stage by Hosted Network managing director, Ben Town, the benefits of collaboration at a partner level were realised as long as five years ago for some.
“We realised we couldn’t grow unless we collaborated and Huawei have supported that,” he said.
“During the past few years the industry has recognised it more because many new technologies are giving rise to a lot of these specialist organisations.”
But in issuing a word of caution to the 250 strong delegation, Town stressed that partners must understand the strengths and weaknesses of the business model before embarking down the path of collaboration.
“If you know what you are not good at, then you start opening those doors and questioning how else you can strengthen your business and relationships and therefore outcomes for the customer, which keeps them coming back,” he said.
In line with Hosted Network, Brennan IT executive general manager, Simon Barlow, explained that successful collaboration is about segmenting and defining the business model.
“It’s important to know what you are and what you are going to do as much as knowing what you are not,” he explained.
“That is where you pick your partner strategy. Too much of the channel has tried to be everything to everyone.
“We have narrowed it down now specifically and if you know these things then it helps you to get rid of the blurry lines of demarcation. It also fosters much better partnering relationships.”
Previously, Barlow said Brennan IT partners were “scattered” across the industry, with the business lacking any truly collaborative engagements.
However, since working with Huawei over the past three years, Barlow said the IT services provider has realised the benefits of being more transparent within the channel ecosystem.
“Myself and Leo have shared business plans,” he added. “I also know his KPIs and his goals, and he knows mine which changes the dynamics of the conversation.
“And once the landscape of the conversation changes, the engagement changes which has allowed us to narrow down the landscape of partners and step away from being too far and wide previously.”
Professional Data Kinetics (PDK)
Despite some partners realising that the channel is better together later rather than sooner, for Wagga Wagga-based PDK, collaboration has always played a prominent role in the company’s strategy.
Operating as an Internet Service Provider and telco carrier with a regional customer base and focus, PDK assists business owners to make employees work anywhere across the country through utilising the NBN and cloud technologies.
“Some IT providers have kept a closed view of the world because they’re more insular,” PDK managing director, James Howell, observed.
“But in regional Australia it cannot operate that way. If you’re trying to complete a national rollout, you can’t do it without working with other partners.”
As explained on stage, Howell said a recent deal required a rollout to 76 sites within a six-week time period.
“We partnered with another IT provider in Sydney to help provide voice configuration with the platform and had three other separate teams across the countryside. For us, it’s all about the outcome for the customer.
“It’s not happening in just networking, it’s critical when you’re trying to do something at a national level. If you don’t have the people you can rely on and trust or the expertise it makes life difficult.”
Akin to Brennan IT’s philosophy on partner-to-partner workings, Howell subscribes to the notion that the channel must be “open and transparent” to ensure the process is beneficial for all parties involved.
“With Huawei, we look at how we can ensure my business is on a growth trajectory,” he said. “Through being open and transparent about the opportunities going forward, we can now go after those deals together.”
With the direction of travel clear in terms of a collaborative channel, Lynch said partner-to-partner remains fundamental to the vendor’s channel strategy going forward, given the tech giant’s concentrated pool of partners.
“We don’t have the Wall Street quarterly type focus on numbers as we’re a privately owned company,” he added.
“We already know our number for 2020 for example, so we run by a very different philosophy.”
Looking ahead, Lynch said the onus on Huawei was to now “build an ecosystem with a small number of players”.
“That’s the newer, emerging channel and because we don’t have a heritage in the enterprise we can really build off collaboration,” he added.
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.