Opinion: Bridging the Murray

Opinion: Bridging the Murray

It may have been 10 degrees and pissing down with rain for my first weekend in Melbourne, but I am still very happy to have made the move from the harbour city to the sports centre of Australia. I tried my best to forget the 27 degrees and sunny weather I left in Sydney.

Fortunately, as a sports fan, arriving just in time for the AFL grand final and the spring racing carnival made the cold and wet welcome that much easier to take.

For those who don't already know, I have relinquished the editor's chair and taken on the position of ARN's "editor at large". It's a funny title that in no way reflects the fluctuating size of my girth but it is a very important role that we at ARN are very serious about.

The change has seen me relocated to IDG's South Melbourne office with a view to developing stronger ties between the publication and its Victorian-based community of readers.

I will also be working next year on some special projects for IDG's Channel Division, aimed at extending the strong brand ARN has developed in the Australian IT industry. However, first and foremost, my responsibilities will revolve around increasing the coverage of the thriving Melbourne channel community. It will also be about strengthening our credibility as a national champion of the IT channel.

Ever since I was appointed as editor of ARN back in late 2000, I have been lobbying for us to have a stronger presence in Australia's second-largest city.

I never thought it would be me who would take a position in Melbourne for ARN, but I always thought that no newspaper could claim to be truly national without having some sort of Victorian coverage.

Despite the fact that not too many of the big vendors are based in Melbourne and most of the larger distributors call Sydney home, the channel is no less alive and well south of the Murray River.

Strong distribution operations such as Synnex and Digiland call Melbourne home. There is also a string of smaller niche yet national wholesale players, such as Westan, BBF, Alloys International and ACA Pacific, who have their headquarters in Victoria.

For this reason, ARN is really looking forward to having some feet on the ground in Melbourne. For too long it has been the poor relation to Sydney in channel publishing, despite the fact that there is almost as much action and just as many distributors and resellers.

So just what am I hoping to achieve by basing myself in Melbourne?

What we would like to see is far more news stories of what is happening in Melbourne. We want to hear about more deals that are going down in Victoria, more trends that are affecting the Melbourne channel and more opportunities for them to grow their business and be successful.

What I discovered on every expedition to other parts of Australia is that regional communities are very closely knit and loyal to each other. Where possible, Victorian resellers prefer to do business with Victorian companies and the same goes for businesses in the other states.

It is the same with news. Victorian resellers and distributors are most interested in the local issues affecting them on a day-to-day basis.

It is not so much that being based in Sydney means that ARN doesn't care about other states, it is just that there is more regular contact with those that are based in NSW. When we go to vendor launches we meet the NSW-based distributors and when we go to dealer events we meet the local resellers. Relationships are developed through constant contact and news is generated from relationships.

I will be making a concerted effort to get out and about amongst the Victorian channel community as much as possible. Distributors and vendors should take note that I am now based in Melbourne and take advantage of the opportunities this affords me to lend them an ear.

Meanwhile, resellers should keep their eyes open for me at local events and promotions. I will always be happy to hear your feedback on ARN and will be keen to understand your business. If there are any issues that you have with suppliers, regulators or competitors, I will give you and them a fair hearing.

I may not be born and bred in your home town but I can deal with four seasons in one day and I can hold down a conversation on the football code that is so popular locally.

Gerard Norsa is ARN's Melbourne-based editor at large. Contact him at or (03) 9690 2933.

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