While resellers have long agreed on the need for an industry body to represent the channel community, how to create and run it has stayed in the too-hard basket. But those problems could finally be overcome in conjunction with the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA).
The association's general manager of strategy and policy services, James McAdam, said it already represented a small number of resellers in a broad sense by providing access to shared knowledge, industry influence and the opportunity to network with other members.
But a special interest group could be formed, he said, if the AIIA had 10-15 reseller members. McAdam would not be drawn on how many it currently had but its online membership list included ASI Solutions, Data#3, DiData, Getronics, Oakton and Volante.
"If we can build on that [current membership] number it will allow us to create a targeted member group around the needs of that market," McAdam said.
Data#3 managing director, John Grant, is on the board of directors. The integrator's general manager, Laurence Baynham, said the association served as a surrogate group in lieu of a dedicated reseller organisation.
"We are involved with the AIIA and so are other resellers. It doesn't look after resellers exclusively but it does further the interests of companies in the computer industry," he said. "Our current energies are focused on that industry body although we are open to other suggestions."
Commander is one of the biggest players in the channel but has not joined the AIIA ranks. However, its general manager of strategy and development, Steve Evans, is a major supporter of the reseller organisation concept and said being part of a larger body would add credibility.
"I'm a big believer that there's a vendor world and a reseller world," he said. "As resellers we don't necessarily, as a collective body, articulate our value to customers or vendors.
"We need people who can evangelise that value at forums. Some resellers see price as the only point of differentiation and, when that happens, everyone loses."
Dimension Data marketing director, Gerard Florian, said the IT channel was falling behind if you compared to level of organisation found in some other industries. He cited the Australian Medical Association as an example.
"I think there are times where the reseller community should come together to look at issues," Florian said. "The training of young people is a big topic, for example. We can't wait for the government of the day to do that.
"It's not unusual to see the heads of competing law firms come together to talk about their industry, so why can't we?"
The creation of a reseller association within the existing AIIA framework appealed to Florian.
"It's difficult to start from the ground up, but if something could be done within the structure of AIIA we would absolutely be interested in participating," he said.