After finding it difficult to make contact with local system builders, a visiting executive has proposed the creation of a regular event to address the market.
Vice-president of EMEA sales for Phoenix Technologies, Kees Mulder, was in Australia last week promoting his company's new range of applications. The BIOS manufacturer has traditionally partnered with leading multinational vendors but is also looking to push its new applications through local system builders and integrators.
However, getting beyond the top line of whitebox manufacturers and into the wider builder community proved to be much harder in Australia than it had been in the US or Europe, according to Mulder.
The reason for this, he said, was the lack of an event to pull the local players together into a single community. The US and Europe both have a biannual System Builder Summit, which sees major vendors presenting to local manufacturers. It also gives smaller builders a chance to talk to each other about industry trends and issues affecting their business.
"A system builder has the opportunity to talk to many vendors in one day," Mulder said.
"We would love to team up with other vendors to organise a similar event for the Australian market. I'm sure if we can come up with an outline for an event it would be supported by at least 6-10 quality vendors.
"The smaller system builders don't have huge budgets and a regular event would give them a better chance of competing with the multinationals."
Some of the larger local builders including Ipex, Optima and ASI Solutions - as well as major component distributors like Synnex and Westan - already have regular meetings with major vendors.
But technical director at Ipex, Yaron Schwalb, said the idea of a regular summit would still be appealing as long as it had a different format to events already on the calendar.
"There are products that are attractive to system builders but we typically have to contact the manufacturers individually and they are usually overseas," he said. "I would like to see a technology showcase for companies providing building block solutions that we can integrate into our systems.
"That would add value because you get to talk to companies that don't have good branding."
The general manager of Hallmark Computer International, Mach Dinh-Vu, was also supportive of the idea because it would be more independent than an event driven by a single vendor. This, he said, would give attendees more scope to challenge vendor policies that were hurting the system builder community.
ASI Solutions director, Maree Lowe, said she was surprised such an event had never been launched before.
"Microsoft and Intel run similar events already but they are specific to their technologies and often have an Asia-Pacific focus rather than an Australian one," she said. "It's more important now than ever before that we talk to each other because IT projects continue to get bigger and we are being expected to do more. If we want to see the local IT industry progress, we have to get our heads together. As Australian companies we are not huge. This means we have to be very hands-on when it comes to running the business and can sometimes fail to be strategic enough."
Lowe said she would like to see a local System Builder Summit used as a platform for the creation of a policy group to push government policy towards supporting the local industry.
She also said it would help local manufacturers to work on the development of partnerships as well as providing a forum to share marketing knowledge.
"We need more partnering agreements because if we don't learn to work together the big business will go elsewhere," she said. "A lot of system builders could also be doing a better job of marketing their products."