While it’s still up in the air as to whether we’re heading into a recession, are already in one, or are simply in a recession-like state, VARs are trying to maintain relevancy by staying ahead of the technology adoption curve. And that isn’t exactly easy in whatever economic state we happen to be in right now.
Even when things slow down, the channel has to stay ahead of the game and make investments in the future, which typically includes educating themselves about potential new opportunities. Distribution has a role to play here in seeking out the trends and getting partners up to speed, from virtualization to storage to telepresence. But it has to go beyond that.
At its recent TechSelect conference in Las Vegas, Tech Data (NASDAQ: <a href="http://quotes.nasdaq.com/asp/summaryquote.asp?symbol=TECD%60&selected=TECD%60" target="_blank" TECD) pointed out that while blades are big in the enterprise, they haven’t yet made their way into the SMB space – but that’s where they’re heading. And that’s the kind of information VARs need to know – because that’s where the market is shifting, whether they like it or not.
Sure, VARs can get that information from their vendor partners, but there’s just so much of it out there – really, who has time to sift through it all? Even if you have the best of intentions to keep up with the latest trends and stay in the loop, that task can be intimidating if you’re looking at thousands of different products from hundreds of different vendors. And that’s why so many rely on distributors to do that for them.
Tech Data plans to match VARs with specific opportunities, rather than offering those opportunities carte blanche to all resellers. And that makes sense. The last thing anyone needs nowadays is to be inundated with more stuff – unless that stuff happens to be highly targeted business opportunities.
It’s also up to distributors to provide a less biased viewpoint than vendors on the latest trends (though, obviously, they’ll have some biases of their own). The key is for disties to seek out new trends, products and innovations, sift through them, weed out the garbage, and present some viable opportunities to specific, targeted partners.
And disties like Tech Data often get a sneak-peak at what’s coming down the pipeline from tier-one vendors, so they have a pretty good idea of where vendors are investing their R&D dollars before it hits the mainstream media. And that’s when VARs want to get on board – not when they’re reading about it in one of the national newspapers.
This approach could be why Tech Data has seen an improvement in its performance in the Americas – especially at a time when so many companies are taking hits in North American sales. For Tech Data, less is more, and that attitude is helping the distie get back on track, in spite of the economic climate.