Editorial: Topics of conversation

Editorial: Topics of conversation

The questions that keep coming up

One of the most common questions I’m asked by all representatives of the IT industry is how the rest of the market is faring. It’s not surprising this issue keeps cropping up in conversation, given the economic situation.

Being in the fortunate position of sitting across all different parts of the channel, ARN gets to hear from a range of players about the issues they face, as well as the opportunities. So my answer, typically, is that it depends on whether you’re servicing a vertical market segment still spending (such as government and utilities); if you’re selling printers or desktop PCs (not so good) or security and storage (always good); or if you can sell your offerings based on a cost-reduction or efficiency approach (virtualisation, sustainable IT, selective sourcing).

In other words, there are definitely some who are struggling to pay their bills, but there are also those who continue to grow and win customer deals.

One of the successful areas of the market appears to be the managed services game. ARN recently held a roundtable discussion on this topic, which is presented in an edited format within the Managed Services Below The Line supplement. For the organisations that attended, managed services enables them to secure relationships with customers, lock in consistent and reliable revenue streams, and create a toolkit to ride out the economic storm.

And it’s not just one segment of the market adopting managed services either. According to roundtable participants, mid-market and enterprise customers perceive managed services as a way to access expert skills in select areas, such as security, while mitigating risk. The traditionally fickle part of the market, SMB, is also becoming increasingly open to a managed services approach because of the ability to remove IT headaches from within the organisation and reduce operating costs.

In this week’s edition, we’ve also taken another look at the second biggest influencer on the IT industry to the dowturn: The value of Australian dollar against the US greenback.

Over the last month or so, our little Aussie battler has climbed about 10 per cent against the US, as well as rallied against the Euro and Japanese Yen. The rise follows six months of see-sawing between $US0.60 and $US0.70, and comes nine months after the soaring heights of $US0.98. It’s going to be interesting to see how the vendors react to this news, given the raft of price hikes introduced since the dollar started plummeting in September last year.

Several distributors we spoke to were divided on whether we’d see much change in the short term (see page 1).

Unlike the boom times, organisations and individuals will be cautious about making adjustments until the dollar shows it can hold its value.

Most agree it’s difficult to predict what’s going to happen with our dollar – one bank’s currency team was even forced to admit in an April report that its forecasts were “embarrassingly wrong”.

Undoubtedly, it’s yet another one of those issues that’ll keep cropping up in conversation in the months to come.

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