Keeping your eye on the ball

Keeping your eye on the ball

Being relevant has never been so important in the IT industry

After nearly five years as the news editor, deputy editor and now editor of ARN, the responsibility for writing the editorial column each week has been handed over to me. It’s a responsibility I don’t take lightly, but while there will be plenty of space dedicated to discussing the serious stuff, I also hope to pepper these musings with community tidbits, rumours and reflections.

The channel has changed dramatically since I started at ARN in early 2004. Coming in just before Ingram Micro acquired Tech Pacific, I’ve witnessed a significant shift in the players dominating the Australian distribution space. Those who’ve merged into larger players or simply exited the market in recent times include: Dovetail, Omega Technology, BCN Technology, Digiland, ChannelWorx, HiTech Distribution and Tecksel, to name a few.

But, equally, many distributors have shown their ability to innovate and develop new business lines in order to meet the changing needs of their customers. This week’s report on Distribution Central’s plans to launch a unified communications unit, which will sit alongside its other distribution pillars is one recent example. Ingram’s Solution and point-of-sale divisions are also ways for the broad-based distributor to be more relevant to different reseller segments.

With new technology delivery methods, such as software-as-a-service and cloud computing, already influencing the market, it is inevitable that distributors will have to change to meet them.

Integrators and resellers have also had to rethink their business strategy and skill set in recent years as hardware prices commoditised and branded PC vendors snatched up corporate and consumer share. With annuity sales models, such as managed services, now being realised, and mobile and virtualised computing becoming a reality rather than a vision, I believe many are now getting an opportunity to branch into different areas and adopt new directions.

The shift towards greener IT and more energy efficient infrastructure is also expanding the duties IT providers perform for their customers and will be a major consideration in technology adoption in the years to come.

In the short-term, there’s no doubt the industry is facing a tough time and everyone of you out there – whether you’re a vendor, distributor, services provider, integrator, reseller or retailer – will need to be more innovative and relevant to your customers than ever. Having sound business practices and being aware of your strengths is key to making it through, as many resellers stressed in this week’s top story on the global economic crisis. While many are still reporting customer spending is strong, it is apparent no one can get complacent or can afford to take their eyes off the ball.

Regardless of how things pan out in coming months, the channel will continue to play a crucial role in IT no matter which direction it heads in or shape it takes, and I look forward to continuing to report and comment on its successes in the future.

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