Perth has been described as "the world's most isolated city". Isolated communities have a tendency to stick together and look after one another. This is definitely the case for Western Australia's channel.
Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting Tech Pacific's WA leg of expotech, the distributors' national roadshow for the IT channel. It was an enlightening experience.
Frank Tenaglia, WA state manager for Tech Pacific, described the region as "a very unique market", meaning that it doesn't necessarily synchronise with what is happening elsewhere in the world or even Australia.
Western Australia is an economy unto itself, according to Tenaglia. He said his good and bad months don't necessarily correlate with the ups and downs on the other side of the country.
Similarly, vendors with dominant market shares on the east coast, don't always enjoy the same results in the west. As one vendor representative told me, "Western Australia is a market that you either do really well in or you do nothing at all." Which way this phenomenon falls is attributed to the quality of the distributor.
Meanwhile, there is also a healthy suspicion of easterners in Perth. Just as we on the east coast will sometimes furrow the brow and roll the eyes at US-based "geniuses" who jet in to tell us how it is and how it should be, Western Australians feel the same about people who make lightning visits from the east coast.
Australia is isolated from the rest of the world. Consequently, we as a nation do things differently, and have unique external market influences that are different to the rest of the world. We have learnt to look out for each other while, at the same time, developed an ability to improvise solutions to all sorts of technical problems.
Similarly, Perth is isolated from the rest of Australia, so the national characteristic to make do with what you've got - to be able to fix anything with the proverbial chicken wire and gaff tape - is perhaps even more evident in the west than the rest of the country.
However, that is not to say that Perth is full of chicken wire and gaffer tape solutions or resellers. Being isolated doesn't mean Perth's IT distribution channel is behind the rest of the world in technical, business or partnering skills. In fact, quite the opposite appears to be the case.
Isolation breeds innovation, and Perth is a hotbed of cool business models, unlikely characters and strong loyalty. WA's small and medium businesses deal with WA resellers, which in turn deal with distributors that have made a strong commitment to the region.
It is also evident that isolation has developed a very strong partnering mentality in the WA market. The time and cost of travelling nearly 5000 kilometres across the country means there is a large role for the ware-housing and support on offer from a value-adding distributor.
In the west, nobody can match Tech Pacific's instant availability of a large range of products and support at the cost of a local phone call.
By having a vast warehouse with a huge range of stock located in Perth, Tech Pacific defies the tyranny of distance that would otherwise hamper the operations of a reseller in that region.
The good news for vendors and
distributors is that if you can circumvent the isolation and embrace the Western Australian culture, the rewards are great.
I'd love to hear from Western Australian channel companies about how you cope in the world's most isolated city.