ARN Roundtable - Distribution is the new facilitator

ARN Roundtable - Distribution is the new facilitator

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.

George De Bono (rhipe), Max McLaren (Red Hat), Walter Rosada (Datacom), Paul Turner (Zynet), George Kazangi (BlueCentral), Carolyn Darke (Microsoft), Tom Mason (Seera), Nick Beaugeard (HubOne), Ben Town (Hosted Network), Warren Nolan (rhipe), Hafizah Osman (ARN), Barry Silic (The Cavalry), Jennifer O'Brien (ARN), Eric Jewett (SkyKick), David Nicol (Citrix). Photo: Mike Gee

George De Bono (rhipe), Max McLaren (Red Hat), Walter Rosada (Datacom), Paul Turner (Zynet), George Kazangi (BlueCentral), Carolyn Darke (Microsoft), Tom Mason (Seera), Nick Beaugeard (HubOne), Ben Town (Hosted Network), Warren Nolan (rhipe), Hafizah Osman (ARN), Barry Silic (The Cavalry), Jennifer O'Brien (ARN), Eric Jewett (SkyKick), David Nicol (Citrix). Photo: Mike Gee

"Our strategy was business transformation. The vendor distributor relationship typically underpins the technical product and support education, and we didn’t think that was the particular way for us to go. But we’ve now come full circle.

"The fact that we’re now taking solution sets to market, there are multiple vendor engagements and ISVs coming into the picture means we’re now employing people with the technical background to underpin the solution with a more product orientated knowledge and awareness.

"Whether it be a partner, a vendor, distributor/reseller, aggregator, if they aren’t thinking continuingly that ‘I still need to adapt and change and innovate’, they are never going to survive."

Max McLaren - Regional vice-president and general manager, Red Hat

"We’ve seen a lot of transformation. The major change in the industry is moving from that traditional license-based procurement model, which was a perpetual license over time, and moving to the subscription-based model, which we’ve been championing from our subscription for many years.

"It wasn’t a major change for us there. Customers want as-a-service, and Australia is way out in front relative to the rest of the world in the as-a-service requirement, everything as a service.

"Aggregators, whether they’re vendors and partners or ISVs, is the destination that organisations want to procure from the market. We’re excited we’re now partnering, for example, with Microsoft in this space.

"Five years ago you would have never of said that. Two years ago, we started this plan to start working with Microsoft because we realised that the platform was the value proposition. That’s what customers want. They want that platform; they don’t really care about what elements are provided, they just want to buy the outcome.

"How do we get together with that traditional partner set that we’ve never been with before at Red Hat and provide additional value from that as-a-service requirement? We’re looking to work with distributors like rhipe to try and deliver that."

Tom Mason (Seera). Photo: Mike Gee
Tom Mason (Seera). Photo: Mike Gee

Tom Mason - APAC channel manager, Seera

"We’ve seen the transformation from computing as a product to computing as-a-service and with the millennials that are coming in today everything is on-demand for them.

"The biggest transformational change from a distribution perspective is about providing that value add. Because there is so much white noise out there, there are thousands of vendors, thousands of partners and our customers are a lot more educated because they can literally go to Google and search for anything that they want, but how do you filter the good stuff from the bad stuff?

"That’s where companies like rhipe come into their own because they can provide that value add and they can be that trusted advisor."

Ben Town - Managing director, Hosted Network

"As with any changes in the market we had to adjust our business model considerably. Luckily though, it worked out for the best as we’ve been able to move from a traditional MSP model to a channel focused service provider and have built a business around helping other MSPs / IT integrators adjust and benefit from the changes themselves.

"We’ve been around for about ten years and we originally started as a managed service provider or IT integrator. We were traditionally selling boxes and doing software and perpetual licensing, but due to the change in the market we realised we had to change our own business.

"In doing so, we identified a market opportunity, recognising that other IT integrators and managed service providers suffered from some big challenges. We sell to the channel and provide the education piece around how to survive, discussing our own learnings and highlighting mistakes that we’ve made.

"As a company, we provide mainly infrastructure as well as the solutions architecture around those different pieces."

George De Bono - General manager of sales A/NZ, rhipe

"Distribution is not a word we use a lot internally at rhipe. It’s not a word we use to describe us. Instead, two words spring to mind: aggregation and enablement. The aggregation piece is how we face our vendors and ISV partners.

"It’s taking all of the things that partners do and bring and putting them into a solution that we can then take to our partners, and then enable our partners to take that to market and build revenue streams, build product lines, build incremental offerings so that we can help their business grow. It’s a cyclical thing.

"We’re in that space now where collaboratively we do need to work together to drive everybody’s growth. If we are the choke point of the hourglass, which regulates the flow through, we need to open that throttle forward.

"We need to open that up to both sides so our vendor partners have greater access to a broader community of partners, and our partners have to access to a broader community of solutions and offerings and things they can take to market.

"Our challenge is to stay current and relevant and stay ahead of the curve so we can bring to both sides, ‘this is the next big thing'."

Nick Beaugeard (HubOne). Photo: Mike Gee
Nick Beaugeard (HubOne). Photo: Mike Gee

Nick Beaugeard - CEO and founder, HubOne

"We’re in a very dynamic market, and vendors can be slow to move business models. rhipe helps aggregate requirements and feedback and because they do that, they have more muscle with the vendor.

"A year ago, I ran a Cloud integration business, but today we’re turning into an ISV. Smart integrators are developing their own IP. We’ve spent the last four or five years building solutions and delivering them to accounting firms.

"It came to our attention that the demands for what we’re doing far out stripped our ability to supply it and so we decided we’d go to market and look to build a partner community.

"The key role of a distributor is about enabling the solutions. I’ve got a product; I’ve got a customer base; but how do I build a channel and take that to market? It is so hard to talk to a traditional distributor. Distributors like rhipe, however, are dynamic and agile and can help new ISVs get noticed.

"They consider changing business opportunities and can help partners move to the next level. Back when I started HubOne in 2008 the business models that were available to partners were interesting to say the least.

"It’s in no small part to efforts by organisations like rhipe, petitioning the vendors on behalf of the channel, that we’ve seen business models become much more channel friendly and workable. It’s not just made a difference to us, but it has made a difference across the entire marketplace."

Walter Rosada (Datacom). Photo: Mike Gee
Walter Rosada (Datacom). Photo: Mike Gee

Walter Rosada - General manager of sales, Datacom

"In the last few years we’ve evolved our hybrid Cloud for the marketplace. The single biggest significant change that I’ve seen in the last two years is our client facing functions have shifted.

"Clients are not asking us to sign up to SLAs or anything particular in terms of our solution, but they’re asking for outcome based. It’s a whole different ballgame because we’ve had to reinvent our backend completely, our commercials, how we consume technology from our distributors, from our other partners.

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