The scramble by traditional direct-selling high-end vendors for channel partners to get into the medium-sized enterprise space, brings with it high consulting fees, according to a senior executive from a mid-market specialist.
Scaled-down high-end enterprise solutions "are well integrated but take a ton of consulting" to be successfully deployed according to Christy Spokely, general manager, service management, for specialist mid-market enterprise software company Great Plains (GP). Spokely was speaking while in Australia to launch a new product range from GP called Service Management series.
"If you want to get the applications to work properly, it is a long and expensive process," Spokely said. "Mid-size customers don't have the budgets to support that. Mid-market applications are built to be flexible and go in straight away."
Additionally, Spokely explained that rather than having to bring in tier-one consultants such as Arthur Andersens when services are required, most integrators can deliver the business consulting themselves. This offers a far less expensive solution for the customer and additional revenue streams for the reseller, she said.
The Service Management Series from GP is designed for companies in the $50-250 million revenue range which are involved in selling warranties or service contracts. IT service companies and whitegoods repairers are amongst the early adopters, according to GP.
Launched in the US three months ago, Australia is the first market outside the US where the product has been made available.
It consists of seven modules including service call management, contract administration, preventative maintenance and returns management. Resellers and their customers only have to purchase the components of the suite that are required and which relate to their business and customers.
"We have expanded past our core competency of financial management applications and have extended into other operational and back-office management solutions," Spokely said.
"This represents a huge revenue opportunity for our channel. It will allow them to get closer to their clients and go in and do some real business consulting.
"That brings in good service revenue opportunities for them and helps them get into new markets."
Expanding out of its niche has also prompted a distribution model reassessment from GP, which claims to be "100 per cent committed to the channel". Resellers will now apply to become a partner and once approved, will be put through a three-week training process before being accredited. With six partners already in Australia, Spokely said there is room for quite a few more.
"We need to evolve our distribution model as we moved into these vertical markets," she said. "We are looking for resellers that have experience in the mid space or in the delivery of operational implementations where business processes need to be mapped and sometimes redesigned."