Efficiency begets savings

I don’t know Stephen DiFranco, the Vice President of Consumer and Commercial Channels at Lenovo, a PC maker based in Research Triangle Park, N.C. , but I read his POV article in the June issue of Channelpro magazine with great interest. He has a very interesting perspective on the future role of the channel.

Mr. DiFranco’s assertion is that the two tier distribution model as we know it today will change in the future as the role of the traditional Value Added Reseller continues to shift to something akin of a regional system builder – someone with the expertise to tell a customer what they need and the services to deploy the technology without actually selling the hardware or software. In this approach, the traditional distributor is now an e-tailer or retailer who provides an easy on-line method of distribution, shipping directly to the customer.

Over several years in the IT industry, I’ve often had the chance to ask Value Added Resellers what we, as vendors could do to help their businesses. The vast majority of the time, the answer is “Provide me with leads.”

Leads may be the lifeblood of many businesses, but rarely has a partner suggested that we find ways to help them cut costs. Growing up on a farm, the message came through loud and clear. “The easiest dollar to make is the one you don’t spend.” Each dollar taken from the expense column goes directly to the profit column.

Are vendors doing all that they can to optimize profitability for partners? Do they develop products that have shorter sell cycles while providing services opportunities? Are vendors paying for value creation or simply account coverage? Do vendors pass on high value, low cost alternatives to partners? Are vendors reducing the administrative costs associated with partnership?

Across the board, I think Citrix does a good job of this. From providing education at cost, to creating products that are easy to justify, to providing modular marketing tools to help drive demand, Citrix helps improve profitability. Are we perfect yet? Of course not, but as you see, we are thinking about it.