Distributors in the future will increasingly act as "puppeteers", managing and sub-contracting channel companies out to help organisations with their individual IT challenges, according to David Fearne, ECS technical director at Arrow.
Speaking at a channel roundtable in London, Fearne compared distributors with house building companies that sub-contract out individual parts of a project to firms with different skills.
"I see us as one of the specialist building merchants that can say, ‘that's the part you need to make it work,'" he said, adding that one channel partner is often not enough to deliver the end results that organisations need.
"It's not about one product, it's not even about a group of products; they form part of a solution, and you need a group of solutions to solve the problems that enterprises face today," he said.
Keith Humphreys, managing consultant at analyst firm euroLAN, is sceptical of the house building analogy, but he does agree that distribution is now offering partners services that "can be as simple as staging and configuration, so it is really a re-adoption of old skills to offering resellers a billing portal for a multi-cloud environment.
"Channel partner enablement is also a new mantra for disties but this again is re-adoption of forgotten skills," he added.
Fearne said Arrow has already changed some of its branding and marketing resources to label itself as an ‘outcome distributor'.
"We see our job as being able to cut through the noise of the resellers that take something and sell it - as opposed to the resellers that take something, add value and deliver something that makes a difference to the end user," he said.
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