VICTORIAN VOICE: The big issues are human

VICTORIAN VOICE: The big issues are human

It was a big news year for the channel, which I guess, should not really come as any surprise. It’s just plain obvious that the community of people which makes up the single most important supply chain function in the IT industry is going to generate a multitude of good and bad tidings.

Under the type of economic and competitive pressures that have prevailed in the past 12 months, the level of market intelligence in circulation escalates exponentially.

Perhaps one of the most notable aspects of the whole year has been the number of human stories that made it to page one. Where once it was the products, deals, trends and opportunities that were hot on the lips of the channel, this year the community turned the spotlight on itself and everyone took a good look at each other.

In the first issue of the year, we reported on big changes at Tech Pacific brought about by the changing of the guard at the top of Australia’s largest distributor. Out went David Cullen after five years at the helm and in came a region-hopping Kiwi company stalwart, Kerry Baillie. It signalled a new order at Tech Pacific, with a renewed focus on sales, customer service and cost efficiencies.

The year finished just as dramatically, with firstly high-flying network distributor LAN Systems being forced into its first ever staff cutback. To top it off, in the last issue of this year we’re reporting that Cullen has now re-emerged at the head of consumables giant Daisytek after its incumbent of 14 years, Paul Connelly, decided to call it a day.

In between there have been a host of other personnel stories that were either about noted personalities changing jobs or re-emerging that had a major impact on the channel.

Former Toshiba long-timer Phil Cameron was appointed as channels manager at IBM’s PC division in February, while Microsoft changed its managing director and channels manager. Meanwhile, John Walters made the move from LAN Systems to Tech Pacific, Rod Orrock took his expertise from Quadtel to Harvey Norman and good old Roger Bushell re-emerged at the helm of VitalSoftware.

That is just the start of it.

In addition to job swapping for some of the channel’s leading personalities, there was a heavy toll in lost jobs as vendors, distributors and resellers ushered in more mature, economic rationalism to their business models. The rumour mill worked overtime trying to pinpoint where the next axe would fall and who would get the chop.

It is not always a bad thing when the technology we trade in takes a back seat to more people-related issues. It shows clearly that this industry is about much more than hardware, software and services. It is about human beings first and foremost and the rest is just what they do for a living.

I sincerely hope you all have a great Christmas. Make sure you come back safely next year for another 48 issues of channel happenings from ARN.

Gerard Norsa, ARN’s Melbourne based editor at large, can be contacted at (03) 9690 2933 or

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