This is my last editorial as editor-in-chief of ARN. Coincidentally (or if Hegel philosophising up in Heaven has it his way, perhaps not so coincidentally after all!), my last big assignment in my current role was to give a presentation on the state of the IT channel at an Adaptec partner conference last week. How fitting, I thought, that after following, recording and analysing the channel’s ups and downs for quite a while now, I would complete the journey by sharing my observations with some of the best amongst you. And how reassuring that despite (or perhaps because of?) the IT slump, the consolidation, and spending the last couple of years on the ‘maturation’ rollercoaster, what I see is that the channel has never been more important than it is today!
The problem, of course, is that when comparing the number and nature of players in this space with the channel of the 1990s, the landscape is vastly more difficult to map out than it was during the reign of the linear, three-tiered channel model. While traditional channel companies are a bit of a dying (or, more likely, consolidating) breed, new channel players are popping up in most unexpected places. Young pretenders are changing not only the traditional direction (“the channel is about pushing product from vendor down”), but also the very shape and definition of the supply chain. Some call this phenomenon the rise of the industrial channel, some simply refer to it by its more telling name — the rise of vertical alliances and networks.
Whatever linguistic reference you pick, it simply points to the crucial shift in the IT-sale paradigm — the channel is no longer about IT technology but about customers and their many industrial/business incarnations. Those who own the customer in each of these variations are those with whom channel players big and small are forming alliances under the new rules of the IT game.
It is going to be extremely exciting to observe the unfolding of the new channelscape and the rise of these new industrially aligned, consolidated and carefully merged X+IT players. And just as with the traditional channel, ARN is perfectly positioned to grow and change with you.
Sadly, I am leaving this space at the time when business is finally starting to move into the third and fourth gear and things are getting exciting again. The good news is that I am not going to be far away. Like all good players in the counter-espionage game, I am about to start evangelising for the enemy. In other words, from now on I will be spying on you from the end-userland corner. And while I’d like to wave you goodbye with a big thank you, DO watch out for me hiding behind your office plant! The new chase is on. Cheers!