3 min read

The mediator

Access Distribution's chief executive is happiest being in the middle of the vendor-channel supply chain

The toughest part of Anna McDermott’s job is also what she enjoys most about it

Since taking the post of president and CEO of Colorado-based Access Distribution over three years ago, McDermott said managing relationships with employees, vendors and customers has proved to be the greatest challenge.

But, she said, “I really enjoy working together with people to accomplish things.”

McDermott recently sat with CDN at the distributor’s annual New Frontiers partner conference in Colorado Springs, Colo., to discuss her views about the channel and the technologies that will shape the future of businesses.

CDN: Since taking this role, what sort of channel evolution have you seen?

Anna McDermott: The channel is evolving and what vendors want and need from the channel is changing.

The way things have been is not the way things are going to be and that’s based on how the market is commoditizing, how technology products are commoditizing. You have to change the value proposition.

When I first started at Access, resellers carried bags with their vendors’ logos, just like sales reps. But that’s no longer the case.

Partners are now sales, services and solutions-led and the technology gets built into that.

As a result, their value proposition to the vendor is different. And what the vendor wants and needs from the reseller community is different because end users have changed how they buy and how they solve business problems through technology and support services.

Vendors, distributors and resellers should be working together to discover unmet needs and come up with a supply chain solution to meet those needs.

CDN: What excites you most about the channel?

A.D.: People look at being in distribution as an unenviable position, but I consider it one of the best places to be because you have the vendors on one side and the resellers on the other.

We’re in the middle, in a very unique pivotal position, to be able to provide value to both entities and work on brokering those relationships and driving success on two ends of the spectrum.

The channel is exciting because it requires individuals who can take a product and really create some value in the market space around that product.

By themselves products have some inherent value, but it’s what people can do with them and how they can benefit a business or a consumer that has real value.

Technology is all becoming so similar. The real differentiator is how technology is applied to a business, and that’s what the channel does.

CDN: What do you think is going to be the hottest technology a year from now?

A.D.: I don’t have a crystal ball. But biometric identification is going to be big for the next several years, which is evidenced by the nightmare we’re going through right now with airport security control.

Voice over IP is predicted to have a convergence of 95 per cent over the next five years.

This whole data and voice convergence is big. Storage and security convergence is huge and is going to start gaining momentum and biometric identification sits right on top of that.

Criminals are going to continue to get more sophisticated. So security is going to become a bigger issue and we’ll see a lot of new technologies in that space around identification.

CDN: What kind of differences do you see in the Canadian market versus the U.S.?

A.D.: We’ve been in Canada for about 14 years. The Canadian market is interesting because it’s a lot more willing to try emerging technologies.

The U.S. is typically more bound to brand identification. We buy brands. But Europe and Canada are different, the brand has less importance.

It makes it exciting to be up there because if you want to run a pilot, run it in Canada.

They’re really open to it and more accepting.