Sydney-based content management software developer FortyTwo International has signed on IT services company Harbour IT as its first reseller, and is on the look-out for similar arrangements in the near future.
FortyTwo develops a Web content management solution derived from the intellectual property of Netpoint, a local development house that went into administration. FortyTwo's three directors, all experienced in systems integration and IT sales, saw the Netpoint product's potential beyond content syndication and decided to put some dollars and hours behind it to create a product with wider scope.
The company has been selling the product direct to a variety of clients ever since, and has decided to embark on a channel sales model to penetrate new markets.
FortyTwo co-founders Kim Barnes and David Bilbow have both been employed by systems integration companies Solution 6 and Mercury IT respectively, and were thus keen to take on a partner like Harbour IT whose directors share similar experience from their days at Data#3.
"The ideal reseller is someone who has a close affiliation with their customer's IT projects," said Barnes. "We want people who service their client's IT needs rather than just push products."
"This is not off-the-shelf ready software like your MYOB," he said. "We will have to hand-hold resellers through sales opportunities, rather than just leave them with a product to sell."
Barnes said that on establishing FortyTwo, he believed Web developers would be an important channel for the product. Unfortunately, he found most Web developers did not want to sell an extensive content management solution as it cuts out the need for their services at a later date. "Once you have one of these solutions, you don't need Web developers anymore," he said.
Subsequently, Barnes believes the cheaper content management solutions that Web developers bundle with their services are more likely to be "content editors" that only have 5 per cent of the functionality of a content management product. He said they rarely have sophisticated personalisation, security, version control or content-scheduling functions.
At the same time, the average Australian business cannot afford the expensive content management solutions being offered by US vendors. Barnes said often they start out a reasonable price, but as the site grows in popularity and the client needs to add more processing power, the costs blow out. To avoid this, FortyTwo's product is sold on a per-server/domain name basis rather than a per-processor model.
"If you are paying a quarter of a million dollars on a single Web property, someone's not done their homework," he said.
"The return on investment for a Vignette or a Microsoft content management solution is a difficult one to justify in today's climate," he said. "I think ours is a little easier for the CFO to swallow."
Barnes said the company has a subsidiary operating in the UK, but is looking for a greater presence in Melbourne (preferably through a partner) before moving into Asia.