The channel has emerged stronger and wiser from the economic doom and gloom. But in the years leading to the downturn, it was easy to become complacent. IT requirements were growing exponentially, and expenditure showed little sign of slowing down.
Then the downturn forced many to go back to basics. Resellers refocused on what is efficient and profitable for them to deliver. It also pushed resellers to consider how to truly differentiate themselves.
In the past, good marketing or product breadth might have been enough, but resellers have become adept at marketing their own capabilities, and end users have become more shrewd and sophisticated in the way they go about evaluating technology partners.
So I believe that training and certification should be key. Resellers should focus on going deep – selecting a few areas where their track records and expertise shine. Very small resellers might home in on one or two very specific areas; larger ones, three or four.
Independent industry certifications from the likes of CompTIA or recognised vendor certifications may demonstrate investment in capability and expertise. They can validate the reseller as a trusted technology partner.
This is particularly true in cloud computing, a complex technology strategy that CIOs are struggling to understand and implement.
At this point customers are not migrating wholesale but dipping their toes in the water, often outsourcing certain IT applications or functions.
Secure data management is another solid opportunity for resellers with the right expertise.
Customers will probably not entrust such implementations to generalists, and certifications often swing the vote in a particular provider's favour.
Certifications will also play an increasingly major role as services become central. And they open the door to consultancy.
Old-fashioned box shifters have not fared well over the past few years, with customers looking for genuine value. Broader IT solutions and services can also yield healthy margins.
Kathy Schneider is director of EMEA channel marketing and programmes at Dell
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