Channel changing the guard

Channel changing the guard

What should the channel's new leaders be considering as they take business into 2012

The doors of the channel have spun with considerable rapidity in recent months.

Names we’ve all grown used to as channel leaders have moved on or changed roles in both vendor and distributor world.

The year started with Pip Marlow and Andrew Stevens taking up the top positions at Microsoft and IBM, respectively. Since then other vendor executives have made significant moves, including Cisco’s Michael Lehmann and APC’s Gordon Makryllos.

And there’s been similar activity on the distribution front. Entrepreneurial Scott Frew is concentrating on his iAsset business leaving Nick Verykios to head up Distribution Central; Ross Cochrane stepped down as Express Data CEO after 15 years but is working a non executive role on strategy and direction and Leigh Howard left Westcon Group after 14 years.

All these movements concern significant channel identities. But is there a deeper message in the mix? What do their successors need to consider?

David Henderson, who left EMC late last year, claimed 2011 was nothing unusual in an industry where movement was common in both the vendor and partner community, however, he ‘couldn’t remember’ a time, in distribution, where there had been as much change in such a short period.

“It has the potential to change the landscape,” he said. “Those executives had existing relationships with the community. With the new people coming in there’s an opportunity for each distributor to re-present its value proposition to the market.”

That said, Henderson said he was certain each of the distributors going through management change would find the right people to fill the role. AIIA CEO, Ian Birks, who will step away from the industry body in the coming months, said from the vendor point of view, three- to five-year cycles are typical of local MDs of multinationals. But there’s also a great deal of pressure in the current environment in terms of performance expectation that all MDs need to manage.

“Often after those three to five years the executives are given an opportunity to step into a new role,” Birks said. “But also the anticipated growth in this region is very high and exceeds other industries. As a result there are a lot opportunities at that senior level to move around.”

But are executives under the hammer? “I think it’s fair to say that things have become tougher in IT and most industries in general,” recruitment and retention specialist, Bob Olivier said, “and this is related to the state of the current economy.”

He highlighted the fact that executives have been put in a situation where they have to work more with fewer resources, yet still have to meet the lofty goals ofboth company and shareholders.

“For today’s executive to be successful in this type of environment, they need to adapt to the ‘more with less’ mindset that is expected of them,” Olivier said. “An executive that works well under the pressures is one that will last a long time in the industry.”

That mantra will speak loudly to the new breed of channel leaders filling some large shoes. 

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Tags businessmanagementciscosoftwareemchardwaredistributorvendorExpress DataWestcon Groupresellerdistribution centralAIIAchannelapc


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