Editorial: Travelling show

Editorial: Travelling show

Someone once said that if all the difficulties were known at the outset of a long journey, most of us would never start out at all. The same could be said in many ways of working in the channel.

There's the monthly sales targets, forecasting, invoices, expenses, integration issues, products that don't work, projects that go pear-shaped - and all the while you're haggling tooth-and-nail with equally pressured suppliers for that illusive goal: customer satisfaction.

Regardless of when you step onto the rollercoaster ride that is life in the channel, new technologies, changes to the way customers conduct business, legislative amendments, currency fluctuations, consumer choice and a plethora of other potholes all have a bearing on what you do.

But, like travel, the channel can be an eye-opening, if not rewarding, experience. Very little happens that isn't touched by the channel between the point at which a product rolls off a production line and when it is unwrapped, switched on or broken by an enthusiastic customer. That's obvious - it's what channels do - so it's of critical importance that the journey goes smoothly.

Any type of journey denotes change and change is a fitting motif for the past week in the channel. Take Powerlan, for instance. The company has been flagging its intention to morph into a serious software vendor for over 18 months now and it's now made significant headway by divesting its services operations.

The channel was fine with this, and NetOptions, Optima, Classic Blue and potentially Data#3 will walk away with a few choice bargains.

But then the bombshell hit.

On Wednesday, Powerlan handed over its residual interests in its subsidiary divisions to administrator KPMG, a move that effectively left a swag of suppliers holding the can.

Some reports claimed that creditors were owed more than $17 million. Regardless of the actual figure, the manner in which this happened left a sour taste in the mouths of many suppliers, and left the companies who purchased the assets and goodwill of Powerlan's subsidiaries helpless to do anything about it.

I have no doubt Powerlan's actions were inside the legal limitations of corporate law (just), but morally speaking it's a different matter.

Meanwhile, there was a brief rumour circulating PC circles that IBM might consider getting back into the retail space. IBM officials categorically denied the speculation and, considering Dell's decision in the US to employ dealers for a white-box offering, may have been nothing more than a couple of crossed wires on the industry grapevine.

Nevertheless, the speculation alone suggests that, like the theory of evolution, it's not necessarily the strongest creature that'll survive, but the species most willing to adapt to change. The theory augurs well for more nimble resellers, which can evolve at a greater pace.

We can also expect winds of change to start emanating from the Australian Taxation Office as it has singled out the IT channel for extensive review. ARN got an inside look at one of the many ATO-led think tanks being held to address dodgy tax practices. Brett Winterford's special investigation continues on page 20.

As ARN editor Gerard Norsa zips down the slopes on a well-earned sojourn in the Victorian ski fields, I've been busy packing the Kombi for a round-the-country jaunt. It's my last week at ARN and a big thank-you to all the people who've made my journey in the channel so worthwhile.

To all the regional resellers, keep an eye out, as you just might get an old channel journo dropping in to say G'day with a dusty notebook in need of service.

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