ARN's editorial, advertising and services teams were given one of their regular circulation and readership briefings from channel researchers Inform last week. It proved to be an edifying experience.
Inform and its vast channel database play a fundamental role in our circulation and distribution strategy, providing us with great insight into the changes constantly taking place in Australia's IT channel. It is critical to our advance planning that we get a good look at what makes up the channel and how you are making money.
So why was this meeting so intellectually instructive? Firstly, it reinforced the quality of our controlled, qualified circulation methodology. Secondly, we were privy to critical channel analysis that helps shape the differentiation of our editorial package and consolidate the value of our marketing message.
But thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, it magnified the growing importance of partners in the delivery of industry growth in this country. Vendors are increasingly recognising that the channel - our readership base - in all its vast diversity is the touch point in the technology adoption of small and medium businesses.
SMBs still rely on channel partners and they remain loyal to ones that offer them independent consulting, value-added services and customisation. Resellers, or channel partners as they are more accurately described these days, are the technology decision makers for many small companies - the same end users most vendors are targeting at the moment.
Meanwhile, it was interesting to note that close to 70 per cent of channel companies are now delivering some form of services and deriving income from it. Almost as interesting is that nearly 70 per cent also still sell PCs as an element of their business.
That's good news, because we have been preaching the "get into value-added services" message for quite a few years. This definitely appears to be reflecting exactly what is happening amongst our readership base.
The management of our circulation database is one of the most significant investments ARN makes as an organisation. It ensures we reach the vast community of channel organisations and all the relevant personnel at these companies are receiving it.
In contrast to the recent slowing of growth in the channel economy, there has been no slowing in the growth of our qualified readership. To me, that means the channel community is flourishing.
Meanwhile, the continued expansion of the ARN Daily e-mail news service readership, which now reaches in excess of 6700 inboxes each morning (it's free - register via www.arnnet.com.au), also demonstrates we are catering to a vibrant growth niche.
That niche is "the channel". It is a weird expression which has very little meaning outside the IT industry other than being associated with narrow straits of water, television and radio, or spiritual mediums. It is also an expression that clearly relays the critical role supply-chain partnering entities play in IT. They facilitate it, steer market direction and exploit its full potential as a business tool.
They are you - ARN's readers - and we want to continue empowering you with the business information that helps you make the right decisions to drive your sales, services revenues and business growth.
Our challenge is to keep up with the vast diversity of organisations entering the technology partnering community. Our mission is to ensure that we do so in an accurate and timely manner.
Let me know about deals, opportunities and trends in your "space". n