Don't Be Too Paranoid To Partner

By Sara Driscoll  |  Print this article Print


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Solution providers need to pluck up the courage, let go of the paranoia and ask each other to dance.

Paranoia. It's an uncomfortable word and an unwanted trait. And yet the channel is brimming with it.

There is paranoia about vendors going direct, there is paranoia about Dell going through the channel, there is paranoia over new technology such as SAAS (software as a service), and, most vitally, there is paranoia of other VARs.

This was not without just cause in the past; suspicion and paranoia breed caution, which can be good in runaway business sectors, and in the heady days when the technology sector and the channel were like the Wild West, this was the right approach to adopt.

But the channel is more like line dancing than the Wild West these days, and the paranoia that exists has become unfounded, especially when it comes to partner collaboration.

At the Gartner ChannelVision event in Palm Springs, Fla., this week, solution providers' partnering up reared its head time and time again. The advice from Gartner was simple; partner up with other solution providers or your business will be at risk come next year or the year after.

While vendors have been attempting to match make and play cupid between their partners for a long time – IBM first came up with the idea almost five years ago – this was a stark warning from an independent source.

The proposition however is risky and daunting. After all, sharing your customer data with another solution provider is fraught with perceived difficulties, but the majority of such difficulties spring from fear and paranoia, not reality. Ingram Micro, for example, has helped over 90,000 partnerships, only a dozen of which have had any kind of major problems. If only customer relationships were so smooth.

Most importantly, it does not require one single massive change. The key to partnering, as many solution providers at the conference shared, is to do it little by little–one contract here with a voice provider, one contract there because you don't have the particular vendor skills, another there for geographical reach, and so it goes on.

The problems that partner collaboration can alleviate–resources in the face of a skills crisis, geographical reach without additional investment, vendor skills without certifying and solving a complete business problem for your customer–are enough to mitigate the risk of asking another reseller to the dance.

And while this may not be happening at every solution provider in town just yet, VARs must be prepared to take other partners to the ball or risk sitting out that dance altogether.

Sara Driscoll began her journalism career at 16 years old on her local newspaper, The Watford Observer. Working part time, she covered a range of beats. Leaving to complete her Journalism Degree at Bournemouth University, UK, Sara then went on to graduate and work for Emap. She began as a reporter on APR, Emap's construction title, being promoted to senior reporter with a year.Sara then joined VNU Business Publications as Deputy News Editor on CRN, the weekly trade title for channel players. She covered industry/business news from vendors, distributors and resellers, product announcements, partner announcements as well as market and trend analysis, research and in depth articles to predict up and coming trends in the sector. She was promoted within a year to News Editor, a year later to Deputy Editor and the following year became Editor. Sara remained editor of CRN for three years, launching the magazine on new platforms including CRN TV and eBooks, as well as several magazine and web site redesigns. She was called on for expert industry comment from various publications including appearing on live BBC news programs. Sara joined Ziff Davis Enterprise as Editor of eWeek Channel Insider. She runs the title in all formats – online up to the minute news, newsletters, emails alerts and events. She also manages the brand of Channel Insider in all formats - events, shows, awards, panel debates and roundtables.Sara can be reached at:sara.driscoll@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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