Express Data: Getting ahead in software distribution

Express Data: Getting ahead in software distribution

Managing director, Ross Cochrane, talks about successfully distributing software licensing to the channel

Ross Cochrane

Ross Cochrane

With hundreds of thousands of software SKUs to manage from a broad range of publishers, the task of distributing software licensing to the channel is a tough one. But for Express Data, it’s a core part of doing business.

The organisation was recognised for its expertise at this year’s ARN IT Industry Awards. Express Data managing director, Ross Cochrane, said just under 50 per cent of its revenue today comes from software. The distributor’s major vendor partners include Microsoft, Symantec, CA, Adobe and IBM.

The key to having a successful software distribution business is long-term investment and deep knowledge, he said. With so many products now being sold on subscription or licensing models, it is critical to have staff who understand the various nuances in product lines and related services to stay top of the game.

“I don’t think it’s just been the last 12 months, although I know the [Software Distributor of the Year] award recognises that time period,” Cochrane said. “We’ve been in the software business for a long time, particularly in the corporate space with licensing and what is emerging as the whole software-as-a-service including annuity, pay-as-you-go and other subscription models. From our perspective, there’s no physical product, so there’s an opportunity to differentiate by adding other services around the supply of the software licence.”

Cochrane highlighted ED’s annuity portal, which it has maintained for several years, and its licensing hotlines and pre-sales teams as major contributors to its success. The distributor has eight people on the licensing team specialising in licensing programs as well as seven pre-sales staff who can provide information around how new versions of software will impact existing infrastructure.

“Typically, what we find is that the resellers will specialise in licensing, or otherwise have specialist people focusing on licensing,” Cochrane said. “That has allowed us to build good contact with those people as we have staff specialised in that area like they do, and who know their stuff. They want to deal with those kinds of people who have deep skills because it is a very complex environment.

“We’ve got licensing programs from a vendor that would have more than 100,000 SKUs, so you’ve got to have a very good website and people who understand how to structure the programs.”

While ED’s software vendor relationships have been consistent over recent years, many of those publishers have acquired other players and broadened their applications and technology platforms, Cochrane said.

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