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ON ACTIVE SERVICE - iMediation: Out to curb channel conflict

ON ACTIVE SERVICE - iMediation: Out to curb channel conflict

ARN: What are iMediation's core products and/or services?

Wise: iMediation's iChannel software enables businesses to build and manage dynamic collaborative sales, marketing and channel relationships with multiple online partners. With iMediation's iChannel, companies are able to manage the business rules that inherently exist between selling partners; avoid channel conflict by leveraging existing channel relationships; gain visibility into the performance of indirect channels; and manage the definition and presentation of its brand online. iMediation also complements its product offerings with business consulting, architecture and application design, technical support, training, and installation and implementation services.

What are your target markets (type of customers)?iMediation's target customers are manufacturers which sell through traditional channel partners (resellers and retailers) in the physical world, and require a solution that can leverage the Internet as an additional sales channel without disintermediating its existing channel partners. iMediation's iChannel has also proven effective for other e-businesses, from Web portals looking to manage hundreds of merchant partners to retailers looking to manage dozens of suppliers. In both cases, iChannel is used to manage the dynamic rules of their business relationships in order to generate real results: increased revenues and reduced costs.

How and when did iMediation start?

iMediation is a private company formed in May, 1998. Since 1998, the company has raised $US82.5 million in funding from leading venture capital companies around the world.

iMediation currently has 230 employees worldwide, and maintains dual headquarters in Paris and San Francisco. Additionally, the company has satellite sales offices located throughout Europe and the US. In October this year, iMediation established its presence in Korea to address the needs of the Asia-Pacific region, in addition to its new office in Sydney which will serve both Australia and New Zealand.

Why has iMediation decided to move into Australia now?

Australia was a natural extension for iMediation, being an English-speaking country and having a high rate of Internet penetration. iMediation recognises the value that its iChannel solution can bring to companies trying to resolve the channel conflict that exists between traditional physical channels and the Internet.

How do you see the channel in Australia? Are there any significant issues in vendor-channel relations at the moment?

Currently the Australian market is searching for a viable solution that will enable vendors and their channel partners to maintain their respective positions in the "selling" value chain and continue to partner online as they do in the physical world. Many vendors are contemplating selling direct online which, in a small market like Australia, poses some significant business issues which need to be addressed with the existing channel partners in mind. Before selling direct online, a vendor really needs to question whether it has as much expertise in selling direct to the customer as its traditional channel partners do.

Everyone waxes lyrical about the "evolving" channel. What do you see as the future for the channel over the next six to 12 months?

At iMediation we view the Internet as an extension of a company's traditional sales and distribution channels, not as a replacement. With iChannel, companies are able to build upon the relationships they already possess with their value-added channel partners by collaborating with their distributors or resellers. In this model, all of the players in the value chain have a role - the manufacturer controls the brand and product description, and the reseller or distributor owns the customer.

We expect that as this collaboration increases among business partners, reintermediation of the channel is more realistic than the complete disintermediation that most pundits projected over the past few years.

At a glance

Employees:

200+ worldwide

Funding:

iMediation has received funding from Apax Partners, Compagnie Financiere Saint-Honoré, Deutsche Bank eVentures, Europ@Web, GE Equity, The Government of Singapore Investment Corporation, Innovacom, Intel Capital, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Reuters Venture Capital, Rothschild Asset Management, Royal Philips Electronics, and Viventures.

Customers:

American Management Association, Canal+, Cegetel, Chello Broadband, Comet/ Kingfisher Group, Conrad Electronic, Deutsche Telekom, Epicentric, Hachette.net, HMV, L'Oreal USA, MagicButton, NetBank, and Montgomery-Wards use iMediation solutions as part of their online selling strategy.

Offices:

San Francisco, Paris, France, New York, Boston, Atlanta, London, Rotterdam (Netherlands) and Munich.

The company has recently signed an exclusive reseller agreement with Cybertek Holdings in Korea, Japan, Singapore and China. In Australia, iMediation is setting up a wholly owned subsidiary in Sydney. iMediation country manager Daniel Wise is expecting a strong take up for the company's services. He believes there is a number of organisations which are failing to capitalise on the best routes to market in Australia.

"Some [companies] might be big enough in the US to say 'stuff the channel' but in a market the size of Australia with 20 million people, you just can't afford to do that," claims Wise.


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