In times of woe, it should not be forgotten that there's always a positive. Every cloud has a silver lining and all that. Things may be looking a little less rosy than they were 18 months ago, but there are plenty of reasons for players in the distribution channel to remain positive.
For starters, vendors are more dependent than ever on the strength of their channel strategies and partners. When slumping revenues reversed the ascendant share prices of major vendors, the axe was very quickly applied to the expense side of the ledger. The most obvious manifestation of this is the culling of staff.
Now more than ever they need a range of partners at street level to drive larger numbers of smaller sales. The big deals just aren't there any more, so to make up the numbers many smaller sales are required and they can't afford to have their own feet on the street.
For vendors, growth is in the vast number of small-to-medium businesses that dominate the Australian economy. As a result, vendors are rationalising their sales and marketing models with a view to driving costs out and catering to the desires of these customers.
It is also a good thing for the channel that customers are finally being heard instead of herded. It's amazing what closed wallets will do. The primary concern of the customer today is return on investment not technical wizardry.
Smaller budgets mean large orders are few and far between, but the value-adding reseller is in the perfect position to help customers tweak what they have in place. Solutions introducing real cost benefits or operating efficiencies from existing infrastructures will find willing buyers.
It is a genuine opportunity for resellers to reinvent themselves as services-based organisations - knowing what represents the best value from the enormous range of alternatives for each individual end customer. Vendors need partners to add that value and they will nurture those that can deliver it.
Broadly speaking, all technology customers - from the single home consumer to the largest corporation - are increasingly dependent on technology. More than ever, they need it to work, live and play. They also recognise the potential that computers and communications have to transform business, but are yearning for a better experience or return on investment.
This is also a good thing for the channel. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to deliver on the promises of technology and those that have evangelised before you.
It is also pleasing for the many mid-tier and smaller businesses making up the channel to ponder the nature of past rebounds from economic slides. Historically and logically, the larger businesses take longer to restructure and have more cumbersome baggage to haul back up when the downturn bottoms out.
Smaller operations are generally running lean and mean at the best of times, which means they can react much quicker to changes in fortunes. An ability to rapidly scale up as new windows of opportunity emerge from the inevitable market recovery allows for increasingly effective competition against larger rivals. Now is the time for strategising on how to move your business to the next level.
The economic slump has also benefited the industry as a whole by weeding out some of the less scrupulous players.
Meanwhile, all those who navigate through the storm will come out better business operators with a much clearer picture of which direction to take. The wise will be the winners.