In any business it's very easy to make glib statements that then come back to haunt you at some inconvenient - and usually embarrassing - later date. We, in the IT industry are not immune to this phenomena.
Many of the industry's leading figures are even prone to playing Mystic Meg every now and then.
For the offending clairvoyant it's very much a no-lose scenario. If a statement such as Bill Gates' 1981 comment on the memory market - "640K really ought to be enough for anybody" - fails to come to fruition, it scarcely matters. That kind of faux pas can be brushed aside easily.
If, on the other hand, the comment relates to a new technology or an emerging market, then that carefully worded sound bite can suddenly - whether by luck or judgement - hit home and become the reality.
This is especially the case with channel marketing. From time to time, a vendor's channel marketing spokesperson will raise their head above the channel parapet and announce its employer's latest big reseller directive. You've heard it all before - it's going to change the way the channel does business. There's a fanfare, fireworks and a flurry of superlatives from co-operating resellers, followed by a blaze of press coverage and then everything goes quiet.
Resellers that try to follow such a lead can end up out of their depth, repeating the marketing mantras, but not quite knowing what to do next.
And the vendors - having dropped off the latest package of marketing collateral - think that their obligations stop there.
So how can vendors work more effectively with their channel partners?
Where should Vars be looking for inspiration?
It's probably easier to explain where not to look. If there's no margin in basic hardware and you can't compete - then don't try. Look elsewhere.
Don't wait around until everyone else is exploiting a niche you think will work before getting into the market yourself. Decide what's right for your business, for your staff, for you and, most importantly, for your customers, and follow it. What are your core competencies? Decide what they are and then work them to their full advantage.
But you can hear this kind of advice from any vendor.
The real trick is to work with the vendor to identify an absolutely unique value proposition which will differentiate yourself in both the eyes of your customers, and changes your proposition in the eyes of the vendor.
As the demand for cheaper products peaks, and the impact of selling on the internet begins to kick in, margins will inevitably fall - yet again.
Many resellers are going to have to make some clear choices and face up to the fact that they' have got to prove that value is being added right along their respective supply chains.
A recent industry research in Europe was conducted which evaluated customers' satisfaction, not just with HP's channel, but with all the significant channel players. It found that customers want manufacturers and channels to work together to create value, but then this can really only be done properly by creating mutually dependent businesses.
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