IT providers have been called to comment on a Technology Channels Assocation (TCA) paper asking whether there is a need for greater professionalisation in the channel.
“The idea is to have some kind of overall standard,” he says. “There are a lot of cowboys, and people working out of their back bedrooms.”
There are myriad IT qualifications, but not around IT sales, support or business management – areas the customer really values. Many, too, are related to specific products or one vendor, he notes.
The TCA has proposed an Academy assessing resellers based on various existing accreditations, certifications, and participation in relevant business events, as well as formal qualifications.
“We do not want to reinvent the wheel,” says Harris. “A lot of people are doing a lot of good stuff.”
Harris, who started Nottingham reseller Bear IT in 2003, says many channel providers are unsure of their direction in terms of business development. With resources scarce and markets getting more complex, professionalisation is more important, he believes.
Eddie Pacey, director of credit services at Bell Micro, says it would not necessarily help resellers attract more credit, however. “We take into consideration the peripheral knowledge of a client – and their professionalism or otherwise,” he says.
Pacey adds that the TCA Academy sounds like a good, fresh idea but he believes that coordinating it across so many businesses will prove difficult.
“We have operated a similar scheme successfully internally here at Bell,” he says. “I do, however, feel the TCA offers value to its members and its stringent rules do mean membership carries weight. This should give clients comfort. Raising or maintaining the bar would certainly serve the channel better.”
Business people may not be ‘professional’ right from the start in their ventures – but over time many do go on to acquire those special skills, coupled with an awareness that success hinges on their overall delivery, across all points of contact, notes Pacey.
“Over the years, I have come to respect and admire many individuals I have met who set up in business,” he says. “Many invested in training and accreditations, whether industry-specific or more general. The downside, of course, is that training spend does not guarantee an individual will stay with you.”
Meanwhile, Michelin star-type ratings would simply add yet another onerous cost burden to IT provider businesses. “They have seen enough of these over the years,” says Pacey.
TCA consultation paper
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