Flying high on Crystal

With a name like Aeronaut Industries you wouldn't expect this company to be the primary distributor in Australia for Seagate Software's Crystal report writing software.

Yet it is. In fact, until recently Aeronaut Industries was the only Seagate Crystal presence in Australia. When Seagate acquired Holos, in its long-running strategy to beef-up the software side of the business, it inherited an office in Australia.

Now Aeronaut Industries provides the distribution channel, with around 800 resellers selling Crystal products, and Seagate Technology provides the support.

VARs and consulting

Crystal Services was the first company to be acquired in Seagate Software's new strategy. At the time, it had a popular report writer among both developers and end users, Crystal Reports.

Crystal Reports, aimed at the low end of the market, was being incorporated into many programs by developers such as Oracle, PeopleSoft and Microsoft.

"It was a way to flood the market and get people using the product," said Mary Katsidis, sales and marketing manager for Aeronaut Industries.

"Because Crystal comes bundled with a lot of products, anyone who sells a copy of Visual Basic can automatically sell an upgrade to Crystal Reports version 5, that's $325," she said. "That's one immediate up-sell for resellers."

In the middle of the spectrum there's Crystal Info, a program which incorporates Crystal Report and the features of other software Seagate has acquired, such as the scheduling feature from Ashwin. Because of the breadth of the product range - covering the developer market, end users who create reports, and MIS managers who analyse reports - Katsidis says there are great opportunities for systems integrators in adding value.

"I'd like to get VARs interested in doing consulting. We can train them up and, once we know they can do a good job with the product, we'll refer people to them to consult in Crystal and add value.

"Every time they sell a couple of boxes of Crystal Info they can go in and make just as much money in consulting as well. There's a lot of consulting you can do with setting up these systems for companies because they don't have the time themselves to put it into place properly," she said.

The aero channel

So while the products are selling themselves, and Crystal has encountered a tornado of demand from end users, resellers are not quite so aware of the products.

"We're in this position where the channel doesn't know about the product," she said.

"we've done a great job at educating all the customers, but we just need to get to the channel at the moment and let them know what's available."

So the Aeronaut channel is shortly up for an overhaul. Katsidis said incentive schemes and promotions will be part of the revamped channel: "We really want to motivate our channel because the products are great; they are selling themselves at the moment."

Currently 70 per cent of Aeronaut's sales are going through the channel and if she had her chance, Katsidis would make it 100 per cent. "I'd rather spend my time helping VARs out, and doing reseller days and promotions.

"We are prepared to go a long way with our resellers if they are prepared to put in the hard yards themselves. It just depends on how much effort they want to put in."

Aeronaut Industries

Tel (02) 9436 1175

Fax (02) 9436 1184