This second issue of Channel X focuses on emergence: emerging channels, developing markets and channel growth in the new economy. It's the forum for new channel company incubation. But incubation means nurturing, making sure these emerging or changed businesses have a good future. And nurturing means responsibility - to you and to your customers.
Which brings me to a most extraordinary thing that happened nine years ago: I had a baby. I have minimal memory of the infant stages, but the ensuing years have made me realise the enormous responsibility of influence.
Now I'm not by nature a particularly responsible person - I'd much prefer to be called a free spirit than a responsible citizen. So the concept of "incubating" my future daughter-in-law's husband is enormously troublesome.
Thank heavens good old Mother Nature kicked in. My son can now tie his shoelaces, wiggle his ears and cook French toast, so all is not lost. However, the next 10 years of pimples, school dances and panel vans (do teenagers still drive them?) makes me sigh under the weight of responsibility.
Which brings me back to the channel. You must be buckling under your own incubator burden. In December 2000, Quadrant Research Services did its annual survey of senior IT managers, and they voted resellers as their most important influence in making IT purchasing decisions. That's a great thumbs up for you folk but how do you manage all that responsibility and at the same time grow your corporate bandwidth and technical competence to optimise the new business potential?
Selling IT products and services provides lots of opportunity but also moral dilemmas. If there is no substitute for great technology, why aren't you always selling your customers the best-of-breed products? Why does the best technology rarely become the dominant market leader in its category? Sometimes fame is well-deserved.
Vendors of the best technology usually assume they can charge more, or allow you less margin. What happens when your customer wants a solution within a given budget, which won't stretch? Or when you can provide them with substitute technology with greater reseller rewards? Or, do you want to leave the door open for a competitor who will promise the same solution for less investment?
More often than not, customers will settle for the second- (or third-) best solution to gain perceived cost savings. Yet vendors rarely manage to effectively combine the right price and technology in a single package.
That's where you come in. The package is yours to create. You are the one who influences and they'll probably believe you. So how do you package it up to provide the best solution and give yourself a nice slice of cake? And then consume all those irresponsible calories bearing the weight of your influence?
I'm not telling you what to do. How could I who faces teenage delinquency ahead be so cocky in the face of such an imbroglio? But I am reminding you that you are very important, that you are the incubators of your customers' IT strategies. It's up to you to take them and their businesses to the next level, while protecting and developing your own.
Back to my metaphor. Going for no-frills shoelaces will provide a quick fix. But within a heartbeat they'll fray and my son will lose heart. And really, why didn't I go for new-age velcro after all? What's worse, while I've wasted time dealing with all these shoelace issues the rest of my affairs are in a malaise.
So good luck with juggling your customers' needs against your own. And the best of luck in becoming the best new technology provider out there while developing your own in-house infrastructure.
My best advice is to keep reading Channel X. I'm going to check the children.
Vice President and Publisher