BT Retail plans to exceed the £1bn revenues it earned through resellers last year by nearly 10 per cent in the coming year. But resellers still feel threatened by the vendor's direct-selling arm.
Pierre Danon, chief executive of BT Retail, told CRN that resellers working through BT Indirect Channels (BTIC) are "critical" in helping drive uptake of CRM, storage, IP telephony and LAN products.
BT's traditional fixed-line market is contracting at about five per cent a year, but Danon said BT's IT services are growing at a rate of 20 per cent. "We are still much smaller than IBM services, but in the UK we are not much smaller than EDS," he claimed.
Danon confirmed that resellers are working with BTIC to sell its Symmetric Digital Subscriber Line and Mobile Office products, as part of BT Retail's strategy to offer converged fixed line and mobile packages. But Danon added that high-street retailers and the web also will be important for sales.
Resellers also will face competition from the BT Local Business initiative, aimed at providing support and maintenance to SMEs in 70 local regions around the UK.
Maurice Lee, managing director of reseller Premises Networks, expressed concern about BT targeting SMEs through the scheme.
"Although it says it has criteria as to the size of the business it will deal with, will it really turn away business if it doesn't meet these criteria? It could be the thin end of the wedge for the channel," he said.
However, Lee welcomed BT's recent move to partner with Siebel and EMC to sell CRM and storage offerings, allowing resellers to take advantage of other vendors' products.
He said: "Some VARs would not usually get the chance to go to these manufacturers because of accreditation costs, so this is a chance to get to more products."
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