Looking forward, Express Data is not planning to radically change the formula, Masters said. It takes a lot of effort and commitment to build a deep enough expertise to become a trusted advisor, and that’s where the distributor’s energy will continue to be funnelled.
It sounds strange in an industry as dynamic as IT, but another area Masters highlighted as a key concern and differentiator for Express Data was its lack of neophobia (fear of newness). Software-as-a-service, for all the concerns that it will cut distribution out of the picture, is something Express Data is embracing.
“We see software-as-a-service as starting to come into its own soon,” Masters said. “Some 13 years ago, people thought there would be no great role for a distributor in licensing, and it would cut the reseller out and we’d see users going directly for their licences to vendors. The reality is the channel found its role didn’t change – customers still needed education and trusted advisors to deal with complexity.”
Ultimately, as long as distribution exists in the IT industry, that is how distributors will survive and thrive, Masters claimed – by having a proven record of successfully engaging with enough clients, building a level of trust and therefore getting return business, even in the tough times.