It’s been a challenging and interesting year for the Australian IT channel. Every year it seems we witness the sensational collapse of an industry stalwart and the rise of several innovative movers and shakers. And 2008 was no different, with the demise of Commander and Optima, and expansion of channel players like UXC, ASG and Data#3 through acquisitions and growth.
The Commander story kicked off in the early weeks of the New Year, and news of a management overhaul was swiftly followed by a business turnaround plan, severe losses, asset sell-offs, a decision to exit the hardware reseller business and massive staff sackings. Things finally hit the skids in August, when receivers and administrators were appointed. PC assembler, Optima, shared a similar fate, closing its doors in July.
Without doubt, the biggest vendor story with ramifi cations for the Australian channel was the launch of Dell’s first partner program. Although two key retail relationships have been announced already – Officeworks and The Good Guys – there’s still no word on who will work with the one-time direct sales evangelist in SMB and mid-market. How this story plays out is one to watch next year.
The ongoing integration of EDS into HP could also be felt right across the spectrum in 2009.
But as 2008 progressed, it became apparent the bigger, overarching story was the economic climate. The volatility of the Australian dollar against the US currency, coupled with global financial market disaster, has triggered massive layoffs, slowed customer spending and fast-tracked salvation packages from governments worldwide.
With such instability, industry representatives say it’s hard to predict just how well we will fare in the New Year. Whatever happens, it’s clear customers have a stronger focus on cost control and risk management, and those that can address these business concerns will have a much better chance of survival.
It’s going to be a tough 2009. Until then, the ARN team would like to wish you a merry festive season and here’s to a happy New Year.