Australian distributor Alstom has scored a coup following NEC Information Systems' decision to restrict its direct dealings with about 10 platinum partners and offer Alstom exclusive access to any reseller interested in pursuing NEC server sales.
After achieving only limited returns from sales of its 5800 Series NT-based PC servers by a select group of 50 to 60 resellers, NEC turned to Alstom to raise the profile of the servers locally while also expanding the number of resellers for its notebooks, desktops and printers.
The deal is a welcome addition to Alstom's line-up, according to Laurie Sellers, Alstom's chief executive. The distributor this year lost its Digital distribution dominance following the Compaq merger, and was also recently cut by Microsoft during its distribution rationalisation.
"We've been a one-horse rider with Digital in the past and with the changes over there, we needed to add another string to our bow," Sellers said. "We needed something for the salespeople to sink their teeth into and I am confident the NEC range gives us the opportunity to do so."
He felt there would be no resistance from resellers who have been locked out of the company's products in the past.
"People do recognise the value a distributor like us can add. We can bring another layer of expertise to the servers and have the third-party products needed to round out a total solution. NEC couldn't do that."
Sellers also declared Alstom's global distribution heritage means it has the back-end systems as well as the credit and finance facilities to attract resellers.
According to Trisha Rogers, NEC Information Systems' NSW sales manager, the vendor's channels strategy "has been all over the place for the last few years".
She considered that looking after large numbers of resellers was not NEC's core business, but it is Alstom's. While claiming the penetration of the product has been satisfactory, Rogers agreed Australian resellers need to be able to reduce the number of purchase points for the solutions they are providing and this has been restricting demand.
"We are going to be working with a handful of larger resellers on a direct basis under our Platinum Partners plan. Giving Alstom an exclusive server deal on the rest of the channel is a way of helping us manage a larger number of customers," Rogers said.
"I don't think we have done this well enough in the past."