Providing technical skills is key to future success
Modern distributors need to evolve as technology evolves if they are to remain successful; delivering value-adds like consulting services and technology expertise will be vital.
One of the major challenges faced by some of the smaller resellers in the channel is that although they are well-prepared to sell some of the more advanced solutions offered by distributors, they do not often have the in-house skills to implement them. The usual vendor approach is to then assign an organisation that does have the requisite expertise to assist, but this sometimes means the resellers end up working alongside direct industry rivals.
While such a situation is obviously not ideal, and is unlikely to sit well with the reseller, explains Naiem Kassim, Senior Product Specialist, Axiz: HPE, there is precious little they can do about it, as they are often too small to have the wherewithal to acquire the relevant technical skills for themselves.
"And things are only going to get more complex for these organisations as we move forward, because technology is only going to continue to evolve rapidly, and it will become increasingly difficult to ensure you have certified people to deal with the ongoing changes," he points out.
"However, an opportunity clearly exists here for distributors who have the budget and the staff complement to improve their skills in this arena and offer these as a value-added service to their resellers. Remember that when it comes to attaining technical skills, it is a never-ending curve, so only large enterprises will have the financial muscle to constantly acquire the specialist skills that will be needed."
He says that in his opinion, it is no longer enough for the distributor to simply sell products to the reseller; value-added services are key to retaining customers and to ensuring the end-customer receives a good experience.
"Modern distributors simply have to provide services like consulting, implementation and other specific skills to their customers, as they are the only ones capable of ensuring their people have the relevant certifications. Moreover, doing so will not only help them to build trust between themselves and their resellers, but will ensure they are viewed as trusted advisors and installation partners.
"In fact, a distributor that sets itself up to deliver end-to-end skills and expertise across a wide range of technologies and solutions will likely find itself in a position to assist even some of the larger systems integrators. Remember that the pool of such skills is quite small, meaning they will be able to supplement the SI's own skills and fill any potential gaps that may exist."
Kassim suggests that delivering this type of value-add is about more than providing better customer service to the resellers. He says it will save them significant amounts of money too, as they now have no need to even consider investing in specialist skills, nor do they have to worry about the additional costs of ensuring such skills are kept up to date via new certifications.
"In fact, the distributor of the future should ensure that it is able to play a role across the entire life cycle of the implementation, from the birth of concept right through the entire client journey until the equipment is retired. This means that they should even assist with the recycling process for old hardware.
"In other words, distributors need to look to move from merely being product-focused to being able to put their own boots on the ground at an end-customer's site, delivering technical skills and consulting expertise while essentially remaining invisible within the process. The idea should be be much like turning on a light switch for the end-customer; they don't need to know where the power is generated, or how it gets there, but they do expect the light to work when they flick the switch. That is how distributors need to operate on behalf of their resellers in this digitally transforming future," he concludes.