Novell is acting as a "dating agency" in an attempt to encourage its channel partners and ISVs (independent software vendors) to build meaningful working relationships.
The software giant is championing its GroupWise system as the most reliable and flexible player in the e-mail market and is challenging resellers to abandon services dollars in favour of establishing better customer relationships.
Excluding the Y2K boom that most software companies experienced towards the end of 1999, GroupWise has posted record revenues in the collaboration space for the past two financial quarters. Richard Bliss, Novell's worldwide collaboration marketing manager, puts that success down to being more competitive in the current global climate of tightly scrutinised budgets.
Bliss praised the Australian and New Zealand markets for delivering "significant" growth and credited this to the strength of "solution-building" channel partners like Comunet and IceFire.
"A lot of channel partners look for the easy money, fixing problems and keeping customers on a life-support machine. But patching up problems is like running up the down escalator," he said.
"IT budgets are finite and delivering solutions that free up resources will allow resellers to build more strategic relationships with their customers."
Bliss has spent the past two weeks visiting channel partners and third-party ISVs across Australia, New Zealand and other Asia-Pacific locations. Referring to himself as a dating agent, he has been promoting the mutual benefits to be gained.
"Our list of registered ISVs has exploded during the past year and there are a lot of little guys out there developing products that increase GroupWise functionality.
"The opportunity is there for resellers to take these products to their customers and add value instead of relying on service dollars," Bliss said.
Steve Martin, Novell's partner relationships manager, Australia, said IT managers are under more pressure than ever to deliver solutions cost-effectively and that the days of "rip and replace" are over.
"Some channel partners see this as a loss of opportunity but the really big projects are not happening like they were three years ago and resellers have to provide a new value proposition. Boards are just not buying into marketing anymore," he said.
"We want to work with resellers who are tired of being screwdriver jockeys that rely on service dollars and who want to work at developing stronger relationships with customers.
"Small resellers want to be seen as strategic and we can put them in touch with ISVs that can supply them with the tools to move in that direction."