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Management under the microscope

Management under the microscope

If ever there was a man having a rough trot in the channel it's Dataflow's Jeffrey Tobias. Here's a man who once proudly sat atop a respected distributor supported by a band of loyal resellers, but now must face the music in front of creditors.

And he can't be too happy about how long and drawn out the process of winding up the company has become either.

ARN has of course closely followed the story of Dataflow's demise after first breaking the news on ARN Daily. Based on the reaction of resellers who e-mailed me at the time, this was a company we did not want to lose.

Now I'm sure Tobias is going to pick up the ball again with a new company so there's still light at the end of his tunnel. But for the creditors owed millions, that's probably the last thing on their mind.

We've actually been debating in ARN's newsroom whether we should feel sorry for Tobias or not. We've tended to think we should because it was an unfortunate set of circumstances, but not all of our journalists agreed. What do you think?

For companies like Powerlan, also featured on our front page this week, the issue of credibility and personal liability is also a sensitive one.

Now I'm not going to go too far down this track because Powerlan and John Fairfax Holdings have drawn legal swords.

But clearly the issue for a channel company such as this is that negative exposure in a national publication is not going to do a lot of good for the business as a whole. The unfortunate thing is, regardless of fault, MDs are either held personally responsible or are caught in the crossfire. It's par for the course in business.

But there's another issue that's attracted our attention this week on the subject of management.

Those back-of-bus advertisers MYOB and Quicken are reportedly having all sorts of fulfilment problems post-GST introduction.

Battles for market leadership aside, we have two competitors with two slightly different go to market models. Inform reports that some retailers have found their shelves empty of MYOB stock. This company handles its own fulfillment. Meanwhile, Quicken is reportedly now top of the accounting heap, no doubt thanks to its ability to mirror MYOB marketing tactics. It also has an efficient distributor partner in Express Data.

I might leave it to you to draw some conclusions on that picture. All I would say for both companies is if you cover buses with your logo for months before June 30, one would anticipate decent demand and plan accordingly. I've had a couple of e-mails from resellers who suspected the short supply indicates this did not happen. Do you agree?

Retail and consumer land, as we all know, remains the hot segment of the channel so we can expect more changes in the coming weeks.

For example, I've heard another big retail player is about to make an interesting e-commerce commitment that we will report on soon.

One thing is for sure with all these companies making news. Credibility is on the line and the channel is watching. Gone are the days when the channel can get away with minor indiscretions.

What's bugging you? Let me know.


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