If you had the gut feeling that the channel was moving from a squeeze-the-margin model to a value-add model, you are right - according to a report from Inform.
The Australian IT Channel Activities Report found a sharp decline over the past 18 months of volume movers. These have been replaced by value providers.
To segment the channel, Inform defined it into six sectors - consultants/developers, distributors, manufacturers/assemblers, resellers, retailers and system integrators.
The consultant/developer - giving independent advice and specifying and designing products - showed a 6 per cent increase in numbers, from 20 per cent to 26 per cent.
Distributors showed a 1 per cent increase to 8 per cent. Inform defined these as suppliers of third-party products to other channel organisations that tend to be logistics-based.
What we all suspected
The next three categories showed a decline. Manufacturers/assemblers went from 17 per cent to 16 per cent.
Resellers - configuring and supplying third- party products to end users - dropped from 30 per cent to 27 per cent. Also showing a similar drop (21 per cent to 18 per cent) were retailers.
System integrators (involving multiplatform systems and usually oriented to large projects) were unchanged at 5 per cent.
To arrive at the report, Inform combed information from a database it has compiled of more than 5000 organisations. These cover a total of 8000 establishments (including branch offices). The database has more than 8000 contact names.
"The report confirms what we all suspected," said David Hancock, a director of Inform. "But while we suspected it, this is the first time we've been able to put some real numbers on it. "Value providers have increased as organisations embrace services-based revenue to continue growth," said Hancock.
In terms of major suppliers, Compaq remained the channel's primary preference for PCs. It will be interesting to see how this changes over the next 12 months, while Toshiba maintained its first position in the channel for mobile PCs.
For printers, Inform found that HP's publicised market share was bigger than its actual representation in the channel. It still led with 34 per cent preference, with Canon coming in second on 23 per cent. On the software front, Inform said nobody came close to Microsoft's 65 per cent representation. Next came Lotus with 12 per cent.
As for the much-publicised rise in fortune of Windows NT, Inform said more channel partners than Novell's NetWare now represent NT. It said Unix remained steady.
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