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Taking a good hard look at yourself

Taking a good hard look at yourself

Commander was back in the headlines last week following its annual shareholder meeting. Company chairperson, Elizabeth Nosworthy, was forced to apologise for its poor financial results this year and its virtually non-existent share price, which has plummeted from highs of $2.20 in January to under $0.25 last month.

With more than $360 million in debts sitting ominously on its balance sheet, the ASX-listed integrator is looking for a knight in shining armour to inject some capital and set it back on its feet. But with market capitalisation at dismal levels, it's one hard sell.

At the shareholders' meeting, Nosworthy said it had received several expressions of interest but was unable to reach a suitable deal.

Meanwhile, resellers have told ARN that Commander is bleeding staff in all states. We have heard reports of tier-two management exiting stage right in Victoria and Western Australia to join rival integration companies such as Data#3 and Dimension Data.

Losing mid-tier staff that drive the business along makes things incredibly tough and really lowers a company's value (Take the loss of many of Kaz's senior management team after Telstra acquired it as an example). To be losing quality people when there is a skills crisis is a worry indeed.

In other news, vendors and channel representatives spoke with ARN this week about how leasing and financing can benefit customers and resellers. With many vendors now trying to win a piece of the SMB pie, leasing is being touted as a great way to get them on-board the latest technologies because it lessens the IT load on an SMB's capital expenditure.

Several industry players said financing was also another link in the solution- selling chain. With so many in the industry now struggling to overcome non-existent hardware margins and taking a more managed services approach, leasing and financing gives customer even more choice and resellers value added services to play with.

At the recent Gartner Symposium itXpo 2007 in Sydney, I caught up with Gartner's worldwide channels director, Tiffani Bova, to talk about how resellers can transition their businesses for long-term gain. According to Bova, resellers that stick to their transactional heritage simply cannot survive in today's IT climate. She also pointed out the consumerisation of IT and the new generation of Web 2.0 addicts is affecting how businesses run.

It's an interesting point. How is a traditional bricks and mortar reseller who's been in the game for 20 years and has focused on selling IT equipment, compete against an up-and-comer that doesn't rent an office and has remote workers, uses Google Apps, stores everything in Yahoo's datacentre, and only sells services?

Bova's recommendation is that resellers take a good hard look at their revenues and focus on what drives profit.

Partnering could also be a way to get broader market coverage while still focusing on your strengths, she said.

The good news is that having market nous and technology specialisations are earning the channel more recognition from vendors. It's up to you to make the most of it.


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