The finalists for the 1997 ?Masters of Deception? Channel Innovation Award have been decided. Before you vote, here?s a brief resume of their projects:
London and the South: ?We have succeeded because we care about our customers, not just how much they are going to pay us. We have an almost religious dedication to getting paid on time. It?s a cult,? says David ?The Baptist? Dodgy, of East End-based Shining Light Deals. Situated just a mile from the City of London, the organisation has grown in one year from a one-man band into a flourishing group of like-minded individuals.
?They all dress alike, they talk a strange language and spend days at a time cooped up in their office. Many of them are fabulously rich, but all they care about is their company. Sometimes it?s scary,? says analyst Derek Withers, ?but that?s enough about Microsoft. These guys are nothing like that. Mr Dodgy?s personal beliefs and business practices may not attract everyone, but he has made a remarkable number of converts recently.?
Shining Light is well-known for its corporate culture: ?I preach the gospel of every man for himself,? says Dodgy. ?I empower our middle management by saying, ?don?t come to me mate, you got us into this, you get us out of it?. It seems to do the trick. I?ve not had anyone in my office confessing for months.?
The approach has filtered down to customers. ?A few got awkward in the early days, but we pointed out that if they wanted to cause trouble, they?d better say their prayers. And after The Good Lord visited our competitor and burnt down his warehouse, business has been booming.?
Midlands: From his bedsit in West Bromwich, Gavin Pertwee has developed a micro-billing package that looks set to make its resellers in the UK channel extremely rich.
Micro-billing, often touted as the key technology for kick-starting internet commerce, means billing users a few pence ? or even a fraction of a penny ? for your service, and taking the money transparently. Pertwee?s innovative micro-billing package, sold through his consultancy called Creative Accounting, has taken the process a step further. It takes money from online users without telling them, and without providing a service.
?Imagine you?re paying for something, and with VAT the cost comes to #3.63 and a little bit,? he explains, ?We just snip off the little bit and keep it for ourselves. Nobody is any the wiser, and there?s no point in taking us to court because it?s not worth it. Meanwhile we reckon the market is worth millions.?
Creative Accounting relies on a committed dealer channel to generate business. ?It?s important that we have full access to any electronic commerce installation but that the users don?t know we are there. Therefore we rely on resellers to install our product on an ?if anyone asks me, I?ll deny it? basis. I cut them in for half, which I can well afford as I don?t have any overheads. Because I don?t do anything, it?s all profit. It?s a very special sort of reseller that I?m looking for, but feedback from customers so far has been encouraging. I mean, there hasn?t been any, because they haven?t caught on yet.?
The North: Bob Sidebottom, chairman of Owt For Nowt Computers, isn?t everyone?s choice for a nominee: many see his recent attempt to drive small dealers out of business as bad for the channel. Sidebottom disagrees. ?Our recent change of policy should be seen as a positive declaration of our confidence in the reseller channel. Make no mistake, we will continue to use members of that channel in every sense. For 10 years we have sold our machines exclusively through a large dealer base. We have refocused that base, and we believe our channel will be stronger as a result.?
Owt For Nowt now sells through one ?franchise dealer?, OFN Systems. Heavily criticised for appointing a franchise dealer that happens to be run by his son Bob Junior, Sidebottom points to rising sales for justification. ?Previously we had 200 dealers in the North of England. Since we sacked them all, OFN?s turnover has risen by 20,000 per cent. Our costs have gone down, and we have created a substantial number of empty dealer offices in the region which can accommodate OFN?s expansion. My father was a pig farmer, and he used to say ?If there?s too many snouts in the trough next to yours lad, you might end up as bacon?.?
You will be receiving your ballot papers shortly. If you should unfortunately lose your ballot paper, the organisers would like to assure you that we know where you live, and so can easily deliver a reminder at any time.
A summary of what you get if you subscribe to our premium market intelligence service
Matthew Polly says CrowdStrike is looking to branch out from the UK and into mainland Europe
Southampton-based VAR states that further acquisitions are in the pipeline
With UKFast launching a public cloud consultancy, Tom Wright asks if this is the way forward for all local hosting providers