Editor's letter: Open relationships

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This article appeared in the November 2013 issue of CRN magazine.

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Editor's letter: Open relationships

Last month, we hosted a roundtable, where we asked some of the channel’s heaviest hitters about their secrets to success. 

I admit that before the discussion began, my biggest concern was that it would all be ‘helicopter-view’ stuff: a surface-level conversation where everybody played nice and spoke about sharing, synergies and solutions. 

Boy, was I wrong. 

There is clearly palpable tension among the different tiers of the channel over the rules of engagement. At times, the conversation descended into ‘us versus them’. Thankfully, much of the lunch discussion was extremely constructive. Guests around the table offered their answers to the channel’s issues. Turn to page 34 to read the feature for yourself. 

Channel tension is not restricted to reseller vs vendor vs distie. Perhaps the more overwhelming change affecting relationships in the channel is the increasing blurring of the lines between once-complementary vendors. One only needs to look at the complex ‘co-opetition’ between once firm partners Microsoft and HP as an example of this (see page 10). 

In October, I was lucky enough to attend the Canalys Channels Forum APAC. Canalys president Steve Brazier opened the conference with a wide-ranging and dynamic keynote that spanned many of the macro-trends impacting on the channel. He devoted special attention to channel conflict between vendors. Microsoft competing with VMware in virtualisation. Cisco’s Whiptail acquisition pitting it against ally EMC. The list goes on.

None of this is going away. Every business is trying to find new growth opportunities. Diversification is one clear strategy. By moving sideways, one player will inevitably butt up against another – perhaps a partner. If our roundtable taught me one thing, it’s that these issues are best discussed out in the open, not hidden away and allowed to ferment. 

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