IN The second of a two-part series, ARN asked a host of distributors, ranging from traditional players to niche providers, their 2011 action plans and strategies.
Services, the datacentre, specific technology focuses, staff training and regional expansion are some of the hot buttons distributors are pressing for growth this year.
Distribution Central marketing director, Nick Verykios, said its strategy was about strengthening its vendor line-up and regional expansion.
“We have doubled our team in New Zealand and have set up our Singapore branch, which will be a hub for further expansion into Asia,” Verykios said. “What’s driving this geographical expansion is the desire of our vendors to invest in the region.
“Distribution has become more important to vendors and resellers than ever before because we have kept them profitable and growing.”
Verykios highlighted intentions to appoint new significant ‘gorilla’ vendors across its FireWall Systems, NetWorld Systems, Unity Systems and SAN Systems business units.
“This year, our strategy is focused on bringing on-board the next wave of larger vendors and look at second tier vendors that support them to enhance the overall technology solution,” he said.
The company would drive its iAsset and DC Control software into new markets outside of Australia and beyond IT and into areas such as utility companies, Verykios said. It will also reposition its services offering.
“A lot of resellers have caught up with the augmented services that we used to offer, so a lot of them no longer need the technical services that we offer, they need different services,” he said.
“There’s a new bunch of services that we need to add for our mature resellers, particularly in the configuration and project management areas.”
“They also want us to represent them a lot more in terms of discussions at the end user level.”
Ingram Micro will place a stronger emphasis on managed services and specific technologies such as storage, networking, virtualisation and datacentre management, according to marketing director, Grant Cleary.
“Managed services will extend our offerings beyond broad based distribution,” Cleary said.
Ingram is also looking to open a partner training centre in Melbourne, which will replicate its Sydney counterpart and features live demonstrations. Resellers can also gain the ability to sell the technologies.
Another area Ingram will keep a close eye on is online purchasing and fulfilment. It recently made some new developments to its TechLink site to include real-time view of stock availability, an enhanced product search capability, prices, and when the order will be shipped.
Top of mind for Avnet Technology Solutions in the next six months is the integration of itX.
Avnet Asia-Pacific marketing and business innovation director, Michael Costigan, said it would also ensure employees were skilled up to meet the needs of customers, business partners and suppliers.
“We’re doing a lot of internal training right now and we’ll continue to do that,” Costigan said. “We’ve got new suppliers to work with, new portfolios for the team to learn and position with our partners.”
“itX was quite appealing for Avnet because of its expertise in software and services, and that gives the new Avnet a complete solution portfolio.”
The distributor is also introducing its SolutionsPath methodology to Australia, focusing on storage, virtualisation and networking.
“This is where most of the traction is in the reseller community right now,” he said.
Another distributor hooked on to the datacentre space is Westcon. Local managing director, Leigh Howard, said this year it would continue to focus on its core competencies and add more complementary vendors to its datacentre practice.
“There’s been a lot more investment in people, particularly in high-market growth areas such as the datacentre,” Howard said. “We see that as a real growth engine, and our focus is on specific vendors. You can’t build a complete datacentre practice without having complementary vendors that make up the whole solution set.”
Determining a distributor’s position in the cloud computing arena has been a popular recent topic with some industry experts. Howard said Westcon's role in the cloud computing market was to add value and simplify the supply chain. It will do this by building a multi-vendor aggregation portal enabling it to deliver cloud services from several sources.
“It will be delivered through a single portal and provide consistency around billing, reporting, compliance and financing. It will make it easier to deliver an enabled cloud to the market, through the channel,” Howard said. “The role of trusted advisor as a channel partner doesn’t go away.”
The portal is part of a global Westcon initiative, but it could offer different services around the world, depending on what’s available, as well as vendor and customer requirements, Howard said.
“It is early days and we’re talking to some potential cloud providers to build out some pilots. We’re testing the water and want to make sure it’s right for the market.”
Westcon is also placing a stronger focus on technical solutions architects to help their reseller base understand new technologies, how it fits and build solutions.
Operational excellence was vitally important to any business, Express Data CEO, Ross Cochrane, said.
“Whether you’re a manufacturer, reseller or distributor, you need to be better at what you do this year, than what you did last year,” Cochrane said.
“Not only do you need to be really good at what you use to do, but you need to be really good at whatever is happening in the market right now.”
Express Data was putting the spotlight on the changes involving the way software will be taken to market, consumption of video and the datacentre arena.
“We saw the transition when software went from box product to licensing and we think this is the next big transition coming, where it goes from licensing to subscription and a consumption-type model,” Cochrane said. “We’re seeing a lot of activity with hosting providers being set up so they sell consumption oriented offerings in the market. We’re doing a lot of work in helping hosting providers to get their infrastructure put in place to make that offering.”
Cochrane said video would become a significant application that everyone would need to support.
“Internally, we’re investing in more video infrastructure, providing better collaboration tools for our staff, and we’re trying to extend our collaborative competencies into our suppliers and resellers,” he said.