Collaboration vendor SMART Technologies has shifted its channel strategy to support resellers directly, only using distributors for fulfilment, according to its CEO.
Neil Gaydon told CRN that in the US the company deals direct with resellers, and he felt this was missing from its UK strategy.
"Before, we had a VAD and we had a light touch in the market. We didn't do much with either the end user or the channel," he said.
"We felt it was time we got close to our channel to help them come up with highly compelling, highly effective solutions that they can make a good margin on and work in conjunction with us to re-establish SMART as the market leader."
Gaydon admitted that SMART lost ground in the UK market due to changing technology, which meant the vendor went into decline because 90 per cent of its revenue was from interactive whiteboards.
"Having been by far the most dominant player in the old interactive whiteboard space, we lost ground because the UK was ahead of the US in the transition from whiteboards to flat panels," he said. "So other companies got ahead of us because we didn't even have a product."
SMART then spent two years creating its Kapp IQ flat panel and realised that in order to get back in the game, it would need to renew its focus in the channel, Gaydon said.
"The reason we needed to do that was to improve our service and support to the channel," he explained. "We have a fantastic channel in the UK who have in the past built the SMART board. We were starting to lose that because of the lack of focus and support."
As part of its renewed focus, the vendor has decided it will carry out all support directly, with Westcon as its distributor in fulfilment only, Gaydon said.
He claimed that SMART's partner programme rewards partners that have "superlative installation, quality support and backup."
"They are rewarded more because they need that margin to offer those services, and SMART is a product that requires explaining, installing, managing and looking after," Gaydon added.
The vendor will not be recruiting more partners in the UK, Gaydon revealed.
"We have some of the best channel partners in the UK when it comes to education, so the most important thing for me right now is working with our loyal partners who have helped build the market," he said.
Westcon UCC has worked with SMART in a limited capacity for a few years but recently started distributing the full product line. Its general manager Garry Boon said that SMART has taken over the sales-line support but the distributor still offers other support for the vendor.
He explained: "We still do some of the technical pre-sales, but SMART does want to take a larger involvement in that going forward. We work very closely with SMART and give them additional logistical strength, as we have pre-sales capabilities and experience in collaboration.
"There was a gap in our portfolio for their product, we don't have any competitive products in that space. We saw it as a great opportunity for us to expand the business. I think their new channel focus is exactly right for us to be involved with."
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