EDITORIAL: The light on the hill

EDITORIAL: The light on the hill

Don't let me sell you any lemons. But let me share some thoughts. Lately, I've been thinking that service providers (and the wider channel,) could learn a lot from the condition of the Australian Labor Party. You know, the whole ‘stay in touch, remain relevant' spiel.

More to the point, at a time when vendors and customers are openly flirting with alternatives to current distribution relationships, the channel needs to do a better job of selling its relevance to both sides of the ‘IT electorate'.

Channel models, as Richard Noone argues in this month's Big Yarn, are no longer linear. As vendors continue to derive more and more of their revenue through fewer and fewer partners, systems integrators are morphing into enterprise application integrators, enterprise application integration is giving way to Web services, and service providers are turning the value-added model on its head. Not even Ben Chifley would be able to see the light on this hill! Yet, the whole point of acknowledging the glory of the past days is to adapt, remodel and reinvent the idea of the light one should charge towards.

Now, before you call Simon Crean to give him your two cents worth, let me bring the point closer to home. The channel is no longer about numbers per se - it's about maximising value. In other words, what once used to be the business of selling a new light on the hill to a young market is no longer a linear movement of shifting volumes from point A to point B.

The customer, who is now expecting his investment to deliver ROI, is no longer mesmerised by the grand idea of IT. The customer has become the voter who is no longer satisfied that a party's ideology has his interests at heart, but wants every channel MP to know exactly what's happening in the electorate and feed it back into the party's policy. It's all about reinventing the ties and models that allowed you to position the light on the hill in the first place. Put simply, to be voted in again, the channel needs to reinvent the value-add for both sides of its electorate.

This month's Channel X examines the issue of reinvention in detail; from analysing how to separate hot new strategies from outdated channel models and observing the US channel's experiences, to turning the spotlight on emerging opportunities for value-add in areas such as content security and EAI. We aim to provide some valuable insights into the exciting possibilities of value-add innovation in the otherwise austere climate of IT business.

Taking a leaf from our own book, we are coming to you with a new look and a renewed determination to add value to your business by helping you stay successful in your quest for the new light on the hill of the IT supply chain. To do so, we invite you to share your opinions and feedback on the issues you would like us to cover and our service to you, our reader, by filling in our 2002 Reader Survey on page 54, or simply by e-mailing me at

I look forward to your vote.

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