Last week Australian Reseller News launched its new daily Internet news service - ARN LiveWire. Hopefully, you caught the ad in last week's paper and checked out the site. If not, this is my little plug in order to try and convince you that it's worthwhile visiting. The address is http://arn.idg.com.au.
The new site will continually update through the day, breaking news as it happens. We've got a swanky new look, new features like our related stories links and we've brought our Solutions sections online.
Expect this to be the start of a raft of new online products. ARN's publisher IDG - which is both the biggest IT publisher in Australia and the world - is hell-bent on establishing itself as the online information source of choice and portal to the Australian IT industry.
But we're like any business that is trying to stake its claim on the Internet. We're trying to find the right business model that will enable us to succeed in the Internet age, while at the same time continuing to grow our traditional products. No doubt, people's ability to receive information online is going to affect what they want out of a paper publication. So each time we move to put more information online, ARN's newspaper will evolve so that the two continue to complement each other.
The way ARN's newspaper is heading is to feature more in-depth articles that analyse what the news of the week means to the channel. What we don't want to do is simply print the same story in both mediums. That's stupid.
But that's the thing that is so mind-blowing about the Internet. It is so radically reshaping business models and how we all operate. Almost every day, someone is doing something new on the Internet and every time that happens it is going to affect your business in some way. The Internet right now is a veritable breeding ground of ideas, which continue to spread and mutate as we all look for that killer business model.
For example, if www.pets.com launches a new whiz-bang way of pulling in e-commerce revenue, it doesn't take long before that approach is replicated and tinkered with by all manner of companies; before long your competitor has adopted it and taken a leap ahead of you.
Personally, I've made it my business to dedicate a portion of the day to scouring the Internet for new ideas and practices we might adopt. I'd suggest any channel company that isn't doing everything it can to stay on top of the Internet ideas curve hardly deserves to be in business - and probably won't be when they are swamped by more Internet-savvy competitors.
The opportunity that exists for the channel is to leverage that knowledge. It's near impossible for your typical company to keep up so they have to turn to partners who know what's going on. It's not surprising, then, that more and more resellers and integrators are adding Internet consulting arms to their business.
How are you going to differentiate yourself from the pack? One way would be to specialise in a vertical market, because the thing that's even more important than understanding where the Internet is heading is being able to apply that knowledge to a given business scenario.
Philip Sim is editor-in-chief of Australian Reseller News. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org