One thousand channel delegates have flocked to Barcelona for Canalys' 11th annual channel conference. We break down the key controversial talking points from day one of the event.
Amazon Business 'will expand to 10 European markets by next year'
Amazon Business is currently up and running in five European countries: the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. The B2B platform has seen lightning growth, and is now logging $10bn (£7.6bn) in annual sales.
The platform can cater for businesses of all sizes, offering products from laptops to printers and other office supplies.
Brazier claims that he expects Amazon Business to grow its operations to 10 European countries by the end of 2019.
Third-party sellers contributed around half of Amazon Business' annual revenues, amid fears that the new platform could come at the detriment of the channel.
Brazier gave a clear warming to the audience of channel execs that the B2B platform is not their friend.
"They are a threat to you, there's no question - be very careful," he said.
"We would recommend the partners in the room: do not do shop-in-shops. Why would you enable Amazon Business to become even stronger and let them take your customer relationship away? They are a threat; you don't want to enable them."
HPE brand ‘lacks a punch' and Microsoft is too unpredictable
Brazier used his keynote to chastise HPE, Microsoft and Cisco, among others, for how they have handled their indirect business over the last year.
Breaking down the six largest vendors in the European commercial channel by product revenue, Canalys claims Microsoft is the largest revenue provider in the European channel with an 11 per cent share in partner product revenues, followed by HP with eight per cent. Cisco claims seven per cent, Dell EMC six per cent, then Lenovo and HPE four per cent each.
Brazier went on to point out flaws in how each vendor manages its partners.
Starting with Microsoft, Brazier lambasted the vendor for changing its partner programmes too often, while also hitting out at HPE for having a weak brand.
"Our message to [Microsoft]: you are too complicated. Please stop changing the programme every August. You don't need to change it every 12 months. Stability would make life easier for each of you," he said.
Turning to HPE, Brazier alluded to a huge management restructure at the vendor last year which saw it strip out its EMEA-level structure.
"For HPE, they did a big reorganisation last year. Those of you who work in only one country like the energy and attention you are getting from that country. But those of you who are multiple countries are finding it much more difficult," he said.
"HPE's challenge is they are no longer in the PC business and don't have the volume of scale that Lenovo and Dell have… and are finding themselves not as competitive in low-end servers.
"They face a branding challenge. We think the HPE brand lacks a punch, and is too intellectual. Most importantly, the jewel inside HPE is Aruba, which is on fire. But the HPE brand does not stand for networking and we think its biggest challenge is to reinvent the brand and build one that recognises where the core growth engine is now, and will be for the future."
The CEO did not pull any punches in his criticism of remaining vendors Cisco, HP, Dell EMC and Lenovo. He said that as Cisco shifts from hardware to software, it is neglecting its Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) partners. Dell EMC again came under fire from Brazier for ongoing conflict between its direct business and its partners.
HP, which has always shown an "incredible commitment" to the channel, may have shaken partners through its buyout of Apogee earlier this year. Lenovo's biggest weakness, Brazier claims, is in its channel-facing tools and bidding process which "seem to have become the IBM heritage of old".
Dell EMC again faces questions over competition with direct arm
"I don't think they think it's going as well as you do," was Brazier's reaction when Dell EMC executives attempted to quash partner frustrations at continuing to be in competition with the vendor's direct arm.
The scene was a repeat of last year's event, and the year before that. The frustration will always be promptly expressed by partners as soon as the Q&A session with Dell EMC commences.
Adrian McDonald, EMEA president of Dell EMC, responded, claiming that C-level executives from Europe's top channel partners are happy with the how Dell EMC has followed through with protecting partner-led sales.
"Last night at the captain's dinner - and hopefully that was representative - there was not a single question about what's happening with the direct sales force, and the partner sales force, and I will say our partner programme is religious on the behaviour, and most people would agree it's working well," said McDonald.
"Sixty per cent plus of my business is partner-led and that goes up every year. Does everyone in the room want to get to that juicy 40 per cent? Of course.
"I think the natural course of events is that things are moving in that direction, and all things being considered, I'm relatively happy with the outcomes and results thus far."
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