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Australian suppliers

Some time ago I asked a supplier for a particular service and was subsequently contacted by an account executive who gave me the all reasons "why I could not have what I wanted". I suggested that I needed to be contacted by an employee who was interested in "how they could get me what I wanted". He didn't understand and that's the problem.

Some time ago I was contacted by one of the larger IT distributors in this country to tell me that it wanted to concentrate on BIG clients and I should take my business elsewhere.

A few weeks ago I noted that Australian Reseller News was discussing this supplier's problems with debtors not paying. All those smaller up-front cash paying customers who were told to march would not have presented this risk. Given some lateral thought, smaller clients should have been accommodated without compromising the ambition of servicing larger clients. This same supplier has recently started to try to get the "small clients" back. "Just sign the personal guarantee" and they will allow you to pay COD!

Another supplier has a sign saying that customers will only be seen between the hours of 11:00am and 2:30pm. Why? Because they are too busy dealing with deliveries and couriers before 11:00am and after 2:20pm. Interesting! I wonder how sales are to the delivery drivers and couriers. In my business a sale takes precedence over all other activity. The courier needs to wait if we are servicing a customer. Another supplier has now instituted a $500 minimum order for collect orders. Why? My order for a laser printer is fine, but I can't supply my client with a toner cartridge?

What's happening to the calibre of management in Australia? Where is service to the client? Complaints about our suppliers are legendary and it would be interesting to see Australian Reseller News highlight the dopey ideas that our IT wholesalers adopt as their answer to the changing face of business in Australia. I strongly suggest that management at Microsoft, IBM, Hewlett-Packard, etc, study the methods and procedures of your Australian distributors. You are not being served well enough!

Name withheld by arrangement

Value add

While I enjoyed reading your article on value add (I usually find your articles interesting and thought provoking) I think it's a little unrealistic to expect a dealer to go through the generator test exercise. Several reasons spring to mind.

We are generally all too busy to conduct this sort of experiment. It would also greatly interfere with our own company's business.

One of our biggest issues is finding enough suitably qualified people to cope with the workload we currently have. It would therefore not only be unproductive per se but would also actually cost us in lost business. I'm not saying I would not be interested in the answers as I would definitely like to know. However, until a client funds it I can't see many dealers attempting it.

Regards, Martin

Microsoft malaise?

Bob Lewis argues on page 30 of ARN (June 3, 1998) that Microsoft has a monopoly, but to my mind his arguments, although certainly not wrong as such, miss some important points.

Item 1. Microsoft Office is arguably the worst "productivity" suite available.

For a start, Microsoft's import and export filters are woeful.

It even has trouble opening and saving files from previous versions of itself! On the other hand products such as Corel and Lotus SmartSuite offer better quality, and comprehensive import and export filters, including being able to reliably open and save Microsoft Office files.

This makes these other products much more useful and less likely to trouble one's trading partners, and of course avoids Microsoft's cunning mechanism of altering file formats to assist in forcing the upgrade cycle.

Item 2. The system "most vendors build for" is actually Unix (generically) which is a far better choice for business tools than Windows. Unix developers also know the importance of shipping software that is well tested and as close to bug-free as feasibly possible, and know the importance of flexibility in the OS, not just "pretty" front-end tools and good (sic) looks.

Item 3. This would be a good argument except that IDC (along with all other major independent research houses) struggles to find businesses that are mass-deploying business applications based on Windows.

Item 4. Refer back to item 1 (above). It is the information that is important, not the format. Better by far, therefore, to impose standards for the file formats used for data and document storage. Most Unix applications already do this, using file formats such as EPS and HTML.

Unix people, despite religious wars between Unix variants, have long known the value of open-ness and standards. That is why the Internet exists and works. It is why the IP protocol stack has variants for LAN (TCP/IP) and WAN (PPP, SLIP, cSLIP).

It is why Unix has security designed in (Kerberos, PAP/CHAP). And it is why the Internet is such a content-rich and global environment. Until Microsoft realise the importance of public standards rather than trying to impose their own, either through "almost correct but not quite" implementations or straight-out hijacking, their practices must be seen as self-interested and therefore anti-competitive.

These are my own views, not necessarily those of my employerRegards, Peter Laytham


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