It is a time of sweeping changes. The market is in a state of ongoing disruption and now Cloud-based distribution is being challenged rather than being the challenger.
The winners will be the innovators who embrace disruption as opportunity, and relish evolution to not just keep up with the market, but to define new ones.
Certainly, the engagements between resellers, distributors, vendors and partners are also changing as business adapt and react to new technology and industry trends.
ISVs are becoming suppliers, competing vendors are now collaborating with each other and partnership and opportunity is everywhere.
Collaboration, “coopetition” and alliances are the new frontier, and new relationship models continue to evolve to address customer needs.
At an exclusive roundtable in Sydney – a group of thought-leaders assembled by rhipe and ARN – discussed the changing channel landscape and how businesses can start looking for new opportunities and innovative ways to add value and profit.
The group examined some significant changes to affect the distribution landscape in recent times, while also highlighting their respective company journeys.
Due to the sweeping market changes and need for new skills and a host of services, the channel is strategically partnering and collaborating with other players – former rivals and fierce competitors – and having to rethink the entire partnering strategy.
Max McLaren, Red Hat A/NZ regional vice-president and general manager
"The company’s partnership with Microsoft is a major example of this new age of relationships in vendor world.
“We have 4000 to 5000 customers in A/NZ, but 80 per cent comes from the enterprise. Obviously Microsoft has a very strong partnership with vendors that have been very strong in the SMB channel
"But we’re pretty excited about the opportunity to figure out where the opportunity is with those traditional partners that have done a good job in the SMB space.
"The as-a-service value proposition means that the barriers to entry that traditionally existed for organisations that wanted to acquire technology was very enterprise focus has disappeared because it’s a consumption-based model. There’s an opportunity for us to use our imaginations through the whole spectrum of the ecosystem and figure out the new opportunities.”
Ben Town, Hosted Network managing director
Today’s supercharged cooperative and collaborative partner environment is being considered on a case by case basis. No doubt partners need to transition, however, I agree that it is certainly an exciting time for the channel.
“How each partner deals with the coopetition opportunity depends on the partner at the end of the day. We don’t deal with a huge number of partners but we do work with partners that can see the opportunities resulting from the changes, and they understand that they need to change.
“Traditional managed service providers need to adopt new ways of thinking, and adopt new revenue streams. It’s about changing the way we’re thinking to stay profitable and stay ahead of the times.”
Carolyn Darke, Microsoft small to medium business channel and distribution manager
The company has drastically changed its view in the area of partners, thereby embracing a whole new host of players.
“When I think about the different business models, about coopetition, we obviously have a lot of different relationships now in the market and partnerships and we’ve obviously changed our personal view on the partnerships.
"We’ve always had partnerships with OEMs, but now we see very much that it’s about ‘how do we scale into different ecosystems, how do we get the customer reach, and how do we focus on innovation?’
"We don’t want to buy everything; we don’t want to own everything. We know to innovate quickly we may need to partner with someone who has different capabilities in different areas. If you have that principal in mind about partnership, you can do some great things on some hard solutions that you would not have done before separately.
“We encourage partners to have a think about what they are good at, what they are not good at and what they don’t want to do. If you see an opportunity in those areas, focus and specialise on things that you’re good at. Outsource what you’re not good at or work out some different partnerships with those that you can network with and work well together with."
But it’s not about subcontracting. “It’s more about working with who has those skills that you can develop a business model with and can go to market as a single face to that customer.
"You will still own the customer relationship, but have other systems in the background around some capabilities or skills, which you never wanted to develop into any sort of depth.”
George De Bono, rhipe A/NZ general manager of sales
"I agree partnering today is all about finding a shared business outcome for the customer and being mutually profitable. The as-a-service equation is the main focus and pursuit.
“It goes back to that phraseology which is as-a-service. It’s an ability and a conversation we have daily and internally, asking ‘how do we deliver a better service to both sides?’