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​Is the Australian channel better together?

​Is the Australian channel better together?

As talk fills the industry with the need to partner up to increase profitability, ARN tests the theory.

O’Reilly said Logicalis uses specific subcontractors to fill in-house capability shortages, but that is as far as the company’s collaboration goes.

“We have about 25 small companies who we use as subcontractors as specialist companies that are around 20 million or under 10 million,” he added.

“We use them for skills we don't have or geographies that we aren’t in, for example cabling services, desktop support in regional parts of Australia or Oracle database skills.”

A vital strategy

While collaboration works for many partners on a case by case basis, there are those who view it as an on going business asset and a vital part of their strategy, such as Adelaide-based managed service provider, Geek.

Geek belongs to a global organisation called HTG, a peer mentoring group for MSPs with a large presence in the US and Europe, alongside a burgeoning community in Australia.

Geek consultant, Jon Paior, said there are currently four, soon to be five, groups within Australia, each consisting of between 10-12 companies that meet quarterly.

Paior said the group works collaboratively to help members tackle the challenges and opportunities that effect its members, by sharing combined business practices and knowledge.

“There are certainly examples where there is business level collaboration,” he added. “Certainly the most prevalent way we would do that is to be able to cover geographic spread.”

“If I am going to pitch to a client that has a branch office in Western Australia, I will have a conversation with one of the other members of HTG about collaborating on that deal, but it has more to do with geographic region than collaborating across spaces.”

As to be expected, different partners have different specialties.

“We may be working with a client that has some Sharepoint requirements and there will be HTG members that have more capabilities in that regard so we build on each other’s strengths,” he said.

Jon Geek (Geek IT)
Jon Geek (Geek IT)

In short, Paior said the charter of HTG is to learn from each other’s experience, and to not necessarily to collaborate on special deals.

Yet for Paior, such collaboration occurs naturally based upon the trust developed between members of the organisation.

“We maintain the highest level of trust and confidence,” he said. “Confidentiality is the cornerstone of the trust you build within HTG. Without that trust, none of this would work. You have to be completely open and honest.”

Paior said most companies maintain membership for at least five years and it is usually not until the first year that they begin realise tangible benefits - it takes at least that long to get financials in line with HTG’s systems.

“You come to the meetings initially to build your business, but you keep coming because of the relationships you build,” he added.

Relief

While collaboration serves a purpose, it usually remains a stop gap for those looking to grow businesses and for partners uncomfortable with engaging would be competitors.

As a result, certain distributors can provide relief.

Through offering Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS), Hosted Network managing director, Ben Town, said that many of his partners may be comfortable managing an environment but call on the company for their skills, particularly in standing up projects.

“One of the reasons we exist is to provide that support as a real value add,” he said.

“If one of our partners is going after a particular deal and they lack the technical skill set, that is when they call on us. We require our partners to bring in the deals but in return, they expect that they can leverage us in that regard as well so they don’t have to hire the technical skills required.”

Ben Town (Hosted Network)
Ben Town (Hosted Network)

In this sense, Town said Hosted Network goes further than a lot of distributors and in many cases, the company will stand up an environment and the partner will provide professional services.

“We will provide the pre-sales support similar to a distributor, but we will also stand it up if the partner needs us to and build out the solution so that they can win the deal,” he added.

“Particularly when we start to talk about bigger deals, it is a growth path for many of our smaller partners. It allows them to take on deals that they would not necessarily be able to get into and by the same token it allows us to get into deals we would not necessarily be able to get into.”

Town echoed Ashley’s earlier sentiment that this was simply a natural progression and as partners mature, they develop more and more in house capability.

“If that is the case, we support them because we understand that it is part of building that relationship,” he added.

“For some of our partners, they don’t want to do that. They would prefer to leverage our expertise on specific deals rather than committing a full time resource to something that may not be a continual need.

“They may be comfortable with supporting a deployment but may not have the technical skills or resources to support it. In that case we can architect a solution for them, stand it up side by side with their engineers to get the job done and then it’s a win win.”

This article originally appeared in the August issue of ARN magazine - to subscribe, please click here


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