“If it’s a hardware deal, it’s more traditional because that’s the way of the market,” he said. “But I’ve yet to see an effective rewards scheme that focuses on selling cloud.
“There’re a few in the market but not like the traditional business which is clear in that if you sell X amount of tin, you receive Y amount as a reward.”
Coupled with internal compensation plans, service agreements and co-selling approaches, vendors are frantically scrambling to introduce modern programs capable of straddling both traditional and emerging partners.
Currently however, the majority appear to be missing the mark in terms of partner engagement.
“Vendors are talking to the service provider community in New Zealand but the conversation has to change,” Looi added. “When they are engaging with the channel, they don’t think about what the partner needs to do to monetise the deal and make it work for them.
“It’s very much about the vendor, but what about our invoice and billing for example? The approach has to shift away from vendors just focusing on what they need to do.”
In looking back, there was a time in the New Zealand channel when partners wore vendor logos as a badge of honour.
Partner websites were flooded with pages of shiny logos. Whether it be a silver competency in this, or a gold accreditation in that, the channel was crammed with providers offering the kitchen sink in terms of technological expertise.
Today however, the climate is different.
“Each logo used to represent a different part of our capability but now we’re much more specialised,” Olliff said. “The market is more maturity and favours specialisation, partners no longer want to be all things to all people.
“As a result, we’re constantly re-evaluating the role of vendors in our offerings. Sometimes new partnerships with vendors must be made.
“I don’t think there isn’t a vendor out there in the market that isn’t trying to adapt - every vendor is trying to find the right way of working with the customer and the channel. In some cases, it’s just different horses for different courses.”
On the topic of selection, Godfrey said providers are motivated by delivering an outcome for the customer, irrespective of the vendor technology on the table.
“Ultimately it comes down to what the customer wants,” he said. “Whether that be the board of directors, the CEO, CTO or CIO, cloud is driving a different conversation.
“But we’re still living in a legacy world which means technology selection must be carefully measured.”
As each year passes, distribution in New Zealand continues to be defined by the latest buzzword dominating channel chatter.
Through the insertion of one small prefix - think digital or cloud - the go-to-market strategies of the central cog in the supply chain once again fails under observation.
For the distribution game is changing, moving in lockstep with vendors and partners to transition to solution-based selling, recurring revenue and the delivery of digital and cloud offerings.
Naturally, this is an ongoing transition that shifts distributors from a legacy tactical role to a much more strategic one.
“Our business has evolved from having no expertise in cloud, to now providing full capabilities across a range of platforms,” Exeed managing director Justin Tye said.
“We initially had resellers asking to how to consume the technology and we didn’t have the means to answer that question in the early days.
“But today we’ve landed with on-premise, off-premise, hybrid, public and private offerings, forming a whole raft of options for partners to consume.”
Speaking through the eyes of distribution, Tye said the move has resulted in a round of changes internally for the business, such as the remodelling of sales team and systems.
“We’ve also spent a lot of time educating our channel and helping partners understand how they can compete with the big players in the cloud,” he added. “We’ve invested heavily in IT expertise that didn’t traditionally exist in hardware distribution.
“Our role is helping businesses cross the divide and understand the benefits of cloud, which can be challenging.”
Irrespective of public, private or hybrid, a cloud world calls for a cloud channel strategy, with distributors central to the creation of high-margin services for partners to take to market, stepping away from mere logistics and box shipping.
Today, a distributor is defined by its ability to demonstrate expertise across cloud, mobility and security, alongside vertical market specialisation, enterprise credentials and a knack for acquiring emerging vendors
“What does a distributor do?” Grauman asked. “Our legacy was managing to get a piece of hardware from the US or China, ship it through customs and into our warehouse, sort out the financial aspect and get it onto the doorstep of a customer in New Zealand.
“Through doing that we earned our right to take a piece of margin, and the market was as simple as that.”
But in cloud, Grauman acknowledged that distributors must earn the right to take margin.
“The only way to achieve this is through suppling our platforms, which in our case is BlueSky,” he explained. “Whether it be financial analytics, security, SaaS or data synchronisation, we have services which give us the right to exist in the channel.
“Our platforms are multi-cloud so when partners come on-board, the more platforms they consume, they more they are rewarded. The deeper they go with us, the more they win.”
From a channel perspective, Grauman cautioned that the resellers of the past are not the partners of the future, with a shift underway at a national level.
“We can see that shift,” he said. “Insolvencies are happening more and more because resellers haven’t been able to convert their businesses fast enough.
“Okay, so you’ve migrated somebody to Office 365, what are you going to do next?
“New Zealand is lacking the ability to take IP and export it to the world. Through our platform, we can take Kiwi developed innovation to the world. It’s time to change or find something else to do.”
This roundtable was sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise, StorageCraft, Veeam and Westcon-Comstor.