If you were to judge the most important channel issue for any one year solely on how many editorials I've written on the subject (incredibly conceited I know, but stay with me, I'm trying to make a point), then last year undoubtedly was all about resellers transitioning to services models.
This year, however, the winner would almost certainly be how the Internet is changing the business model of most channel businesses, especially as vendors deal directly with customers online. Almost as importantly, though, 1999 has been about the importance of resellers partnering with like-minded and complementary channel organisations.
Now it's very easy for me to sit here and rabbit on about such issues, but for once this week I'm going to get the chance to practise what I've been preaching.
Last week I hinted how IDG, the publisher of Australian Reseller News, was set to make a significant shift in direction as an online provider. Indeed last week, IDG's managing director, Don Kennedy, announced a major investment and a number of new products aimed at entrenching IDG as the dominant online information and services provider in Australia.
As part of that announcement, IDG announced it would launch a division aimed at building, for use of a better buzzword, "portals". We prefer to describe them as online communities, but nonetheless, the aim is pretty much the same: to create an online gathering point for common content, people and services.
For resellers, we will be leveraging off the fact that Australian Reseller News owns the only dedicated channel Web site in Australia and from that we will develop a portal for the channel. The aim is to build a one-stop site where you can find all the channel information and services a reseller needs.
We will also very quickly launch an enterprise portal for corporate IT users and a PC-oriented portal a little further down the track for SOHO and home users.
I have been put in charge of this new division. As director of online communities, it will be my job to get the portals developed and then build services around them. I will officially start the new role in October, at which point Mark Jones, currently ARN news editor, will assume the top post on this newspaper as editor.
What I'm looking for are partners. As I've said many times before, no one can do it all. IDG's core competencies are our content, our in-depth knowledge of the communities we serve as well as our reach into those customers. If you've developed or are developing online services or consider yourself an expert in any particular niche and believe our core competencies complement yours, please e-mail me.
I firmly believe the best minds in this industry are in the channel and I want to make use of that, because as far as I'm concerned you partner with the best or you die. The Internet industry simply moves too quickly for any one company to go it alone.
Philip Sim is editor-in-chief of Australian Reseller News. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.