With routes-to-market spanning acquisition, organic boots-on-the-ground or the channel-only, global technology vendors have an array of options for cementing their presence in the region.
But, according to an IT veteran who has built an A/NZ operation from scratch, one thing is certain: any technology provider, whether fully manned or partner-only, should be prepared to "embrace all there is" in the A/NZ IT community.
Jamie Deveaux, who was appointed to grow SolarWinds’ channel back in 2012, has witnessed first hand the successes and pitfalls of growing an A/NZ business during the region's cloud boom and SolarWinds’ own journey and rebrand into N-Able.
Speaking to ARN, he said: "A lot of the A/NZ customers I've dealt with over the past 12 years have been extremely loyal. They are great people to do business with; they want to grow naturally and there's this general vibe to want to take over the world. They require the utmost level of customer success and support.
"That's a big interest for a majority of international software and hardware vendors to come over here because they want to grow their business through those partners.
"But what I think ends up happening is you almost kind of put the cart before the horse. A lot think they can stand up a small operation with an account manager, or someone doing cold calls, and that's going to be enough."
Unfortunately, what some vendors miss, despite pledges otherwise, is to build that firm connection with the local channel, Deveaux explained.
"What they miss is that our A/NZ partners are quite demanding – and rightfully so – because in a majority of cases, they've had to deal with someone in North America," he said. "They don't necessarily get the hours of support that they require due to the time zone that's completely the opposite to where a majority of these big businesses are."
Deveaux, himself Canadian-born, said there is a sometimes a tendency for vendors to ship over their own team members to set up shop quickly rather than spend a long process recruiting a local lead.
In cases such as that, Deveaux argued market leaders should aim to get as immersed in each individual market as much as impossible.
"For [N-Able], it was imperative to have someone here that could get entrenched in that local group; visit customers face-to-face and show our presence more so than just over the phone. That's been one of the most important things that I've seen is how much this marketplace has to offer and how much as a vendor – you should embrace it," he said.
With vendors who choose to go all-in with a distributor rather than building a boots-on-the-ground presence, Deveaux urged some caution.
Arguing distribution "definitely works" as a start-up for a new vendor to the A/NZ market, Deveaux said vendors need to be mindful that distributors have their "own goals and product entities they want to deal with".
"I think it's quite easy to stand that up over here, if you took the right approach to do it on your own," he said. However, he added, distribution is particularly beneficial in markets across Asia Pacific (APAC) where English is not the first language.
Having moved on from his role as director of sales for N-Able APAC at the end of last year, Deveaux first joined Canadian software-as-a-service management solution provider Augmentt and is now serving as a sales consultant for managed services provider Think Technology Australia.
Speaking about the transition from vendor to partner, Deveaux said that while the sales process is fundamentally the same. However, with a managed service provider (MSP), he said there is an even bigger opportunity to apply his early-day sales knowledge without the burden of late-night calls to the US or Europe.
"I think in a majority of MSPs, there's so much focus on making sure a customer's ticket is resolved, as opposed to what the customer actually does, where the relationship is with the customer and how we can better their business partnership," he added.
His biggest piece of advice after 12 years in the A/NZ channel? "The majority of big customers want to stake a big sales claim, grow and build," he said. "But they should be looking at two- to five-year plans.
"It's really a goldmine over here: the market's flourishing, we're seeing many acquisitions and mergers. There's consistent growth in software and hardware sales and it's been a firm market all throughout this pandemic that we've dealt with for the past two plus years."