EXCLUSIVE: Doing things the Dicker way… Will 2016 mark a year of great change for the Kiwi reseller?
- 28 January, 2016 07:11
Dicker Data New Zealand
If anyone knows about transformation, it’s Phil Presnall.
In addressing Kiwi resellers just eight months ago, the Dicker Data New Zealand chief spoke of great channel change.
For Presnall, standing alongside CEO David Dicker, officially heralded a new era for the Kiwi channel, following the distributor’s $AU65.5 million acquisition of Express Data.
With 2016 now in full flow, the industry veteran - drawing on 12 years of market knowledge - believes the time has come for partners to also embrace transformation, as new technologies emerge, and old opportunities fade.
“All of us in the channel are having to transform our businesses,” says Presnall, speaking exclusively to Reseller News.
“Those who don’t transform or don’t do it fast enough will be surpassed by existing competitors who do transform, or new more agile competitors.”
While Presnall may talk the transformation talk, remember, he’s already walked the walk.
Since the Australian distributor signed a share purchase agreement to acquire 100 per cent of the issued capital of Express Data in early 2014, Presnall’s own metamorphosis began to take shape.
The former Microsoft man speaks with experience when he advises partners to transform quickly, but with an underlying word of caution, advising they do so with due care and attention, understanding the delicate nature of change.
“Balancing the transition of your organisation to service a market that is demanding IT-as-a-service with monthly billing models, whilst at the same time delivering shareholder value, needs to be a very carefully managed process,” he says.
“Impacts to the top line need to be accounted for in the cost base obviously, so you need to be confident you can adjust your cost base and business processes as fast as the customer requirements are changing.
“Agility in this area is very important in order to remain profitable while you transform.”
Consequently, Presnall - who now embodies the Dicker Data way of doing business in New Zealand - believes the key power play for the local channel is clear.
“Partner,” he advises. “The market will require organisations to be able to partner effectively in order to deliver the depth of expertise across a traditional customer base.
“We find that consistent partnerships work well as they allow early engagement on opportunities which in turn drive better results.
“For example partners that understand the scope of services Dicker Data offer and can leverage these in conjunction with their offerings to take cost out of the sales process or add more value to it, can be more profitable as a result.”
As channel change heightens, and the industry shifts towards a services and solutions approach, Presnall is leading Dicker Data’s change of approach to the market.
For decades, the channel has built itself on the resale of hardware and software, but the modern day distributor now plays a more project-focused role - providing a layer of skills and services to help partners meet customer expectations.
In 2016, the distributor and reseller relationship effectively takes on new meaning, with partners readjusting business models to accommodate the growing emphasis on enablement around services, solutions and specialisation across vertical markets.
“Providing the New Zealand channel with best in class pre-sales, sales, and logistics experiences is very important to our company this year,” Presnall adds.
“This coupled with robust systems and platforms, and the ability to provide industry-leading technologies from the world’s leading vendor partners are key to our success in 2016.”
Key channel plays
In selling exclusively to over 1,000 resellers in New Zealand, Presnall believes the key channel play for partners in 2016 lies around analytics, security and Business Intelligence, as customers seek to gain better insights into their business.
“Having the solutions to address these customer needs will be important in the coming year,” he explains.
“But also having a strategy around digital and Internet of Things will also crucial in order to add value to customers.”
Stepping away from the technological trends briefly, Presnall points to transaction capacity as a critical area for the channel to explore in the year ahead, with cloud / Opex models driving a large upswing in transaction volumes at smaller revenue values.
“To be able to remain profitable as well as provide great service, the ability to scale transaction volumes without service degradation is critical,” he adds.
“Having the platforms and the people to deliver on this will be very important.”
In alluding to a broader enablement across the channel, Presnall cites the ability to provide rich content on a scalable basis in the next twelve months as an imperative skill set, to ensure the complexities of new products and business models are well explained to the channel.
“Again the right platforms and people to do this are critical,” he explains.
As discussed at the Reseller News Roundtable - The Changing Face of Security - in September last year, analysts remain united in the belief that one topic dwarfs all others to the point it has become the context for almost everything else: security.
Broadly speaking, Presnall agrees that security will continue to be a key technology in 2016 for the channel, and with vendors on board such as Intel Security, Dell Wyse, Trustwave to name a few, Dicker Data appears well positioned to meet the demand.
But to delve deeper into the technologies disrupting the market, and the complex role security plays, Presnall points to the gathering of momentum within the Internet of Things space as an influencing factor, as it becomes a powerful force in business transformation.
As reported by Reseller News, a total of 4.9 billion connected things were in use during 2015, up 30 percent from 2014, and look set to reach 25 billion by 2020.
As a result, the knock-on effect for security, Presnall believes, is market changing.
“As the Internet of Things starts to gather momentum, and more data from more sources starts to hit networks, security will remain a high priority for businesses of all sizes,” he predicts.
“The network as a sensor, is a perfect example of the type of technology that allows organisations to keep an increased number of connected devices secure, even as the number of attack vectors grow.
“Analyst predictions highlight the need for a secure network, and the importance of planning for scale around security now.”
In housing Cisco Meraki, and recently picking up networking specialists Aerohive Networks, Dicker Data’s vendor list sits in line with industry forecasts.
But also, cloud and mobility are expected to throw up further challenges around security, leading Presnall to conclude that “opportunity is everywhere” for partners, who still remain bound by one overriding challenge, however.
“One of the biggest challenges at the moment for partners is finding the skilled people to address the opportunity,” Presnall adds.
It’s a challenge the new-look Dicker Data relishes, as the Auckland-based distributor continues to establish and develop strong long-term relationships with its customer base to help facilitate growth.
Built around a customer-centric approach, Presnall believes the philosophy allows for “proactive reseller engagement” and the "dynamic ability" to shift with changing market conditions.
Since celebrating the company’s rebranding with a Reseller Launch Party last year - taking in Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington - the distributor was also announced as one of the first two-tier New Zealand distributors in Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) programme.
Dicker Data, alongside Exeed and Ingram Micro, now lead the second phase of the CSP programme in New Zealand, which opens the way for traditional resellers to bring to their clients access to cloud services from Microsoft’s Australian data centres.
While representing another string to the distributor’s bow, in truth, the Microsoft CSP deal is merely one of many new ways Dicker is aiming to thrive in the changing channel world, as cloud dominates the business agenda.
“For the channel, it will be very important to view your value proposition in a cloud world, so as you have a clear picture of your business as it will need to be,” adds Presnall, who believes vertical specific ventures should be dictated by ongoing business plans.
“There is no one answer and no one vertical to look at, it depends on existing investments and strategies.
“Digital disruption and business transformation are driving opportunity across all vertical and horizontal markets.
“The key to taking advantage of this is to be able to adapt quickly enough in your own organisation to make the most of the opportunity.”
With the holidays coming to an end and deadlines once again looming large, in drawing on Dicker Data’s well-documented transformation, Presnall believes 2016 could mark the year of great change for the Kiwi reseller.