Oh dear, what can the matter be? A year ago, no one in the PC trade could have predicted that companies such as Compaq, Ideal and P&I would be having hard times. Who is next? It could be you. Johnny has clearly spent too much time at the fair.
We have had it too easy in this business for too long. A massive number of people have made frightening amounts of money. But now he has had his fun, Johnny has got to go home - back to the ladies locked in the lavatory.
It's been fun splashing out on the swings and roundabouts, but no one has been looking after things at home.
It's time to get into shape. Being very candid, James Wickes, managing director of InterX, told me last week that the recent troubles were because we had reacted too slowly: 'Everything is pointing to the fact that the whole of the channel has got to move on. A lot of the recent aggravation is down to the fact that distribution has failed to move on.'
It's all going electronic. In distribution they have to cut costs further still. More products moving through direct routes is inevitable. The cost of the supply chain has to be streamlined. Resellers have to mobilise themselves as well. The SME market is not waking up - in spite of the relative economic stability and low interest rates. IT is still seen as a demon - one that sucks money out of businesses, not into them.
This is why Sage's scheme to bring small businesses into the internet game is so interesting. People are jumping onto the Freeserve bandwagon - but Sage has the potential to open up the eyes of the SMEs. Sage are offering its 300,000 UK users free internet connection and an online Web-building service enabling them to build their own site in half an hour.
Sage estimates that about 20 per cent of its customers have Web access and that only three per cent have a Website. The potential is enormous.
If those customers can then link back their Web-based ordering into the SOP functions of the accounting software, they will see a tremendous benefit as soon as people start buying off the Web.
There are lots of other potential benefits as well. Customers can look at their account status and managers can look at the stock profile from a remote location - over the Web link.
Once smaller business users wake up to how this technology can be used to buy, to sell, to communicate and to market businesses, maybe IT will start to fly again. We've got to be ready to exist in a much more fluid channel, where products and services are provided by different types of organisations operating at different levels in the channel.
We've got to be ready to meet the needs of the users when they wake up to the potential of IT. Sage and the other free internet services on offer might just start the ball rolling but Johnny reseller will need to be ready. If he's not, someone else will be going to the fair next year.
Simon Meredith is a freelance IT journalist.
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