After laying off 60 sales, administration and technical support staff earlier last month following the merger of its PC and networking business units, Digital came out last week in defence of its channel strategy and relationships with VARs, resellers and integrators.
According to Paul O'Connor, Digital's director of products and channels, declining margins in the PC sector left Digital with no choice but to prune its staff numbers. However, those people were not lost to Digital, as its channel partners absorbed most of the casualties.
But, while O'Connor reaffirmed Digital's commitment to its channel partners, he fired a few barbs at competing direct sellers such as Dell Computer.
Small players need channel support
"Many end users realise that IT is not a core competency within their organisation, however they agree that technology is vital to the future success of their company," O'Connor said.
"Organisations that have a large IT investment will choose the likes of Dell because all they need is a box-dropper. However, smaller organisations with limited IT skills need the help of the channel and resellers to provide support.
"As a result, Digital believes fostering relationships with the channel and resellers is critical to its success, which is where it differs from direct sellers," O'Connor added.
O'Connor admitted that some customers have expressed a level of scepticism about Digital's place in the market, but he countered this by explaining that the channel is a strategic asset of Digital's, not just something to be called on at a specific time.
"Organisations are looking more and more for service and support. In some cases, we feel end users are more comfortable relying on the recommendations of their channel partner rather than that of the vendor."