Editorial: Going out with a bang

Editorial: Going out with a bang

Close of play on June 30 saw another financial year come screaming to a frantic end for most of you. And even those who report your annual numbers at the end of September or December saw a quarter or half-year come to conclusion.

The end of year (or quarter for that matter) is an excellent time for reflecting on recent history - both in terms of your successes and those things you might have done a little differently if you had the chance - and assessing the prospects of the year ahead.

So let's start with the year behind us. If the industry players who spoke to ARN are to be believed, 2004-2005 has been a real cracker - broad-based distributor, Synnex, and SME specialists, Express Online and IT Wholesale, all claimed record months for June. Security and networking specialist, ChannelWorx, said the month was 50 per cent better than it was last year and storage integrator, XSI Data Solutions, saw its annual revenues jump by 35 per cent.

Unlike last year, when the end of year rush seemed to take forever to get going, the signs were good from some way out this time around. In April, Intel admitted it had been surprised by demand in the global notebook market. Its optimism has certainly been converted into bumper sales in Australia with PC vendor, Acer, and ITW both pointing to notebook sales as the biggest driver of their recent success.

So who has been flashing the cash? Acer highlighted consumer, SME and government as its best performing markets during the past six months and suggested that was unlikely to change before Christmas. The stellar performances of Express Online and ITW offer strong support to claims that SME is flying, while storage and security are undoubtedly good games to be in as long as you are playing your cards well.

And what can we expect from the next 12 months? Well, this could be the year when home networking finds some serious traction in Australia, according to market analysts at IDC, especially if broadband adoption continues to gather pace. All things wireless should also become an easier sell with WiMax products due on the market before Christmas. Demand for more storage and better security will no doubt continue unabated but, as with most sections of the IT industry these days, the difference between success and failure will be tied closely to services.

XSI boss, Max Goldsmith, attributed his company's big year to a change of approach that saw it looking to sell solutions rather than just the boxes. It is already becoming something of a cliche to say customers are only buying technology when it is tied closely to a business process but that doesn't make it any less true.

ChannelWorx managing director, Scott Lidgett, also warned of a trend towards deals taking longer to close.

If greater scrutiny and longer sales cycles are to become an even bigger issue in the year ahead - and there's little reason to believe this is not the case - the ability to foster trusted advisor relationships with customers will become an even greater market advantage than it has been to date. How would a new customer perceive your business and what can you do to improve that perception? Even minor tweaks to the way you do business will help you to be more successful in the year ahead.

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