Invariably stuck between the rock that is vendors and the hard place that is the reseller sector, distribution Product Managers seldom get the recognition they deserve for doing what is arguably one of the most difficult jobs in the channel. But as has become customary in Channelwise every year, we attempt to make their difficult task a little more comfortable by shining the spotlight on them rather than their bosses, giving them centre stage to not only briefly promote some of the products they’re responsible for, but also to get some of their own views and opinions on various aspects of local IT distribution.

Asgar Mahomed, IT hardware components, digital lifestyle products and general electronic goods at Esquire Technologies

Why should resellers buy your product? Having a focused-range of products that fits the client’s needs is one of the keys to ensuring that resellers have a choice that projects international trends and keeps them up to date with current and new technologies with a focus on online trading with Esquire taking care of all the back-end admin and infrastructure.

How can vendors make your life easier? Your vendor is your long-term partner and having one that understands your overall business, one that is willing to grow with you and your channel, goes a long way to ensuring stock turn, pricing expectations and margin projections.

How can resellers make your life easier? While we all understand that pricing is one of the largest key factors in a client deciding where to buy their product, and with the political and channel uncertainty around at the moment, it’s also good for clients to keep in mind the stock and resources the supplier has to keep open just to keep their needs, customer loyalty is fast becoming a thing of the past with clients jumping from company to company just to save a rand or two.

How do you see the future of the channel? No doubt times are tougher and margins are diminishing, however the market still needs suppliers and clients will always need stock. I don’t see any major shift in positioning on the near horizon, I think online will play a stronger role and innovative online ideas will become more regular.

Your best advice to the channel: Have a plan, stick to it and only move it when there is a major shift in trends or technology, or if your clients ask you to.

Describe your ideal day: (Cynically and TIC) There are good days and not so good days … I haven’t yet had an ideal day.

 

Francois van Wijk, HP, Drive Control Corporation

Why should resellers buy your product: HP is a leading brand that consistently delivers exceptional products. Also, our HP team offers years of entrenched experience and excellent service delivery.

How can resellers make your life easier: Insight into their forecasting will strengthen our service delivery.

How do you see the future of the channel: It’s becoming undoubtedly tougher with more players entering the channel; smaller margins are also creating a very challenging environment to work in.

Your best advice to the channel: Stick with what you know and focus on your core competencies.

Describe your ideal day: Spending time in the bush or playing golf – the best of both: playing golf in the Kruger National Park.

 

Bruce Askham, Citrix, Drive Control Corporation

Why should resellers buy your product: Citrix offers leading products in the virtualisation, networking, mobility and cloud arenas.

How do you see the future of the channel: It continues to play a key and strategic role in successful customer adoption and implementation.

Your best advice to the channel: Citrix is probably one of the ICT sector’s best-kept secrets. Invest some time and get to grips with the Citrix product portfolio. Help your customers to transform their businesses, embrace secure digital workspaces, use smarter software-defined WANs (SD WAN) to securely access corporate data wherever it be – on premise or on any cloud platform. This will give them huge business benefits, while saving money.

Describe your ideal day: Work on any device, from any location, on any network, securely connecting to my corporate data and app. Interacting and evangelising the Citrix product set to resellers and their end customers.

 

Heinrich Pretorius, Dell EMC consumer products, Drive Control Corporation

Why should resellers buy your product: Dell is an internationally recognised brand with exceptional products. It is committed to R&D and continues the rollout of new and exciting products. Indicative of this innovation is Dell’s leadership is no less than 15 Gartner Magic Quadrants.

How can vendors make your life easier: Streamlining the communication channel.

How can resellers make your life easier: Insight into their forecasting and marketing endeavours.

How do you see the future of the channel: The gaming marketplace for notebooks is enjoying some significant growth which is good news for the channel.  Otherwise, the market is undoubtedly getting tougher and margins are becoming even tighter.

Your best advice to the channel: Don’t over-promise, stick to your core competencies, and expert service delivery.

Describe your ideal day: A successful and productive sales day.

 

David Ah-Tow, Canon & Oki, Drive Control Corporation

Why should resellers buy your product: Both Canon and Oki are leading companies that feature fantastic product ranges. Canon’s Selphy range, for example, offers great innovation while Oki’s three-year warranty is a major plus.

How can vendors make your life easier: Effective communication channels; it is important to timeously respond to queries and orders to ensure deals are won.

How can resellers make your life easier: Feedback on pricing competitiveness and end user requirements.

How do you see the future of the channel:  Positive … there will always be a need for printing no matter how hard we try to become paperless.

Your best advice to the channel: The channel has gone through tough times before and we’ve persevered. We will get through this recession as the recent GDP growth figures already show an encouraging upswing.

Describe your ideal day: My sales teams have made their numbers and, therefore, so have I.

 

Pieter Gouws, APC, Drive Control Corporation

Why should resellers buy your product:  APC is the premium UPS brand recognised worldwide for its quality and R&D, with cutting-edge technology packed into its products and software. APC’s quality products are trusted from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies’ data centre power infrastructure, management software and security.

How can resellers make your life easier: Many resellers are uncertain and cautious when it comes to supplying their customers with a UPS solution, some resellers might avoid engagement altogether. We are here to assist the resellers with solutions, aimed to help expand their product and service offering. That said, resellers need to be careful when supplying inferior products as they will disappoint.

How do you see the future of the channel: We at DCC do business only through the channel and refer end users to our resellers – that is how the channel is kept healthy. The future of the channel remains secure within vendor, distributor and reseller relationships based on trust, information sharing and transparency. Each link in the channel has an important role to fulfil in projecting the vendor’s direction, services and vision to market.

Your best advice to the channel: Going direct to market disrupts growth within the channel and relationships.

Describe your ideal day: Like they say, time flies when you are having fun and coffee.

 

Matt McKay, Dell EMC Networking, Drive Control Corporation

Why should resellers buy your product: Dell EMC is a true visionary in the networking space and is growing from strength to strength while modernising and transforming open standards-based networks from the campus to the datacentre. Who wouldn’t want to invest in Dell EMC future-ready IT?

How can resellers make your life easier: By engaging with us on deals where we can meet with them and their customer to either discuss, showcase or run a POC (Proof of Concept) in their environment and truly experience the capabilities of the Dell EMC networking portfolio.

How do you see the future of the channel: Dell EMC is investing heavily into channel and we foresee good growth on Dell EMC networking in the channel space.

Your best advice to the channel: Consider investing in a market leader with a strong vision and long-term strategy for networking. Dell EMC also has a full view of what modern infrastructure looks like, with no siloed approach or lock in strategy.

Describe your ideal day: Converting customers to a modern, efficient network strategy that plays well with their existing investments – all while sipping on a hot cup of coffee.

 

Robbie Johnson, Retail, Drive Control Corporation

Why should resellers buy your product: We offer a complete solution to retailers. Everything from marketing assistance, ranging, forecasting, PoS to in-store execution.

How can resellers make your life easier: Collaboration, partnership and trust are key elements to a successful relationship – by working together we will maximise your profits and build a sustainable business that will make you a top destination for IT products.

How do you see the future of the channel: The retail channel continues to be very dynamic and fast-paced. Particularly with the growth of online and the omni-channel. Many of the multinationals like Amazon and Walmart will be driving this change. This change will continue for the next few years and then begin to stabilise. Consumers still like to “touch and feel” products, so there is still scope for brick and mortar stores and experiential marketing is key. Online is also making retailers a lot smarter as their consumers can be profiled and offered very specific deals.

Your best advice to the channel: In these turbulent times you need a partner that understands the business and has the skills and resources to find you the best deals, carry the right stock and that has the key vendor relationships.  Strong partnership is key to ensure both parties enjoy a mutually-beneficial business relationship.

Describe your ideal day: A day that runs like clockwork. Timely arrival of stock, all plans are in place and the results are positive.

 

Jaco Erasmus, Dell EMC Enterprise, Drive Control Corporation

Why should resellers buy your product: Simply put, Dell EMC is the most visionary vendor in the market today. I have been selling the product for the last 10 years and it just keeps on getting better and better.

How can vendors make your life easier: Easy access to collateral and pricing is key to ensure fast turnaround times and to give better responses to channel partners.

How can resellers make your life easier: More customer engagement. We all get busy with our daily tasks, trying to achieve our targets, but there is real value when we engage and discuss either solutions or product offerings and how it can impact and strengthen their offerings and business outcomes.

How do you see the future of the channel: Dell EMC is investing to create better tools and programmes for the channel and we see, on a daily basis, how these partnerships are growing.

Your best advice to the channel: If you are not buying Dell EMC already, give us a call. Dell EMC has a range of solutions to address your customers’ needs and deliver results.

Describe your ideal day: I consider it an ideal day when we can help a customer to solve a business problem through one of our future-ready solutions.

 

Craig Leppan and Manie Du Preez, DocFusion Enterprise and DocFusion 365, Assimilated Information Systems

Why should resellers buy your product: Digital Solutions mainly focus on data capture, workflow and storage of content. DocFusion complements these capabilities and integrates with them for a complete solution.

How can vendors make your life easier: Customer success together with our partners is our goal …

How can resellers make your life easier: … Customer success together with our partners is our goal.

How do you see the future of the channel: DocFusion is committed to the Partner Channel and is growing it.

Your best advice to the channel: The channel partner is our customer and must be treated as such. Train, enable and make sure its win/win.

Describe your ideal day: Conversations with customers!

 

Paul Chari, Data Collection range, dormakaba SA

Why should resellers buy your product: Durable, reliable and innovative with long-term availability and support.

How can vendors make your life easier: Vendor catalogues that are kept up to date with end-of-life information.

How can resellers make your life easier: By joining training sessions and keeping up to date with product ranges.

How do you see the future of the channel: The future is to have seamless application of product and solutions that reflect dormakaba’s values of putting the customer first, developing trust and enabling performance.

Describe your ideal day: And ideal day consists of productive interaction that can later be seen to add value. Communication technology allows for greater availability and when that too is exploited to its potential, it adds to getting more out of each day.

 

Ross Anderson, Sophos, Duxbury Networking

Why should resellers buy your product: Increased APT (advanced persistent threat) attacks, together with evolving polymorphic malware and ransomware, are placing an increased emphasis on complete network security. Resellers should be able to offer end users the most appropriate and cost-effective security solutions. At Duxbury Networking, we distribute the Sophos range which offers a synchronised approach to data protection. With Sophos, the corporate firewall is able to “talk” to network end-point ensuring complete network security.

How can vendors make your life easier: By bringing us more doughnuts …

How can resellers make your life easier: On a more serious note, most reseller partners have unique requirements, often based on the demands of their customers. As a value-added distributor, Duxbury Networking is able to devise an appropriate approach to varying situations while helping resellers expand their product knowledge and boost their skills-sets. Resellers who endorse this approach assist us in forming strong, productive relationships.

How do you see the future of the channel: I believe the channel will continue to grow from strength to strength – well into the future.This position is supported by our principal, Sophos, which is constantly evolving its product offerings and is recognised as one of the most prominent players in its segment.

Your best advice to the channel: My advice to resellers is to make a concerted effort to follow technology trends and work closely with distributors who are able to add value when it comes to designing the most technologically-appropriate solutions for end users. In so doing, resellers will make significant contributions to the stability and future growth of their organisations.

Describe your ideal day: When everything goes my way.

 

Jannie Pretorius, professional services manager at Elingo

Product Portfolio: Genesys Customer Experience Solutions

Why should resellers buy your product:  We provide the expertise to implement the best-in-class contact centre solutions that drive customer and business success.

How can vendors make your life easier: Vendors should understand the unique requirements of the South African market. Our customers are often implementing leading-edge solutions that are unparalleled in the rest of the world.

How can resellers make your life easier: Resellers that provide a full scope of services from consultation, solution architecture, implementation, and support are more successful.

How do you see the future of the channel:  The channel works where there is value to add, or where there is complementary products or services that the channel provide.

Your best advice to the channel:  Find a reseller and partner support that has the specialist knowledge and all the related services to be successful.  Find the best product and partner.

Describe your ideal day: Another successful implementation/change/upgrade, a successful customer, a trusted relationship with quality people at any customer, an employee that delivers quality work to the benefit of all the stakeholders.

 

Frits Heystek, ShoreTel/Mitel, Elingo

Why should resellers buy your product:  Award-winning unified communications products that consistently outperform the competition on flexibility, customer satisfaction and lowest TCO, giving organisations worldwide the power to access information faster, collaborate more easily, and connect anywhere, anytime and on any device.

How can vendors make your life easier:  Vendors can simplify submission and ordering processes by providing online, self-service realtime capabilities.

How can resellers make your life easier: Resellers can reduce their purchasing cycle times by clearly defining authorisations and approvals processes, and simplistic catalogue/product content management.

How do you see the future of the channel: Customers will be enabled to make/change/order with greater freedom without reseller/partner involvement.

Your best advice to the channel:  Focus on customer relationships backed by the right experience to create and maintain a memorable customer experience.

Describe your ideal day:  Constantly exceeding the customer’s expectation through proficiently and competently deploying, implementing and maintaining our solutions.

 

Kevin Hall, Shortel & Genesys, Elingo

Why should resellers buy your product: Many resellers are focused on only buying and selling products. We offer a solution to partners as implementation and collaboration vendors. This enables any SME focused in the IT space to procure large complex customers and then learn as they grow with us to service the enterprise market. With good reference clients and industry experience, we are able to partner with them on deals they would never be able to target on their own due to the complexity and skills required to deploy and develop the solutions we deliver.

How can vendors make your life easier: An approach to the channel that sees them more as a partner, and building and marketing with the channel to develop an even better collaboration in the EMEA market.

How can resellers make your life easier: Understanding their services, and the roles and responsibilities each company has to do to make the client happy. Every partner brings a unique value proposition to the table, and making sure this is clearly communicated, and then established, gives the client a better experience.

How do you see the future of the channel: The niche requirements, and need for customisation and integration, will mean channel partners become more entrenched in the vendor ecosystem. The consolidation of the channel across many software vendors is causing more focus and more specialised services.

Your best advice to the channel: Find your core business, focus on delivering the best service in that area, and then start looking at the bigger picture. If you have the right developers and software skills, look global. Many vendors are opening up their global footprint to a large international service base.

Describe your ideal day: Seeing channel partners take the products and services to a deeper level with clients, and moving services into delivery stacks that we never thought possible, based on knowledge of third-party applications that are not always the expected fit.

 

Chris Coetzee,  Mellanox and ProLabs, Networks Unlimited

Why should resellers buy your product: Our products are disruptive and forward-thinking, which allows future-proofing at an economically viable price.

How can vendors make your life easier: As both vendor and value-add distributor, we offer support from administrative level through to onsite technical assistance.

How can resellers make your life easier: Resellers are pivotal to our success as vendor and distributor. They are the people who are on the ground building those key relationships with the end users that we want to be associated with. Communication and trust is key to a healthy and mutually beneficial relationship in this industry. There is not much more that resellers can do to make our lives easier, their existence is all that matters to me.

How do you see the future of the channel: As the channel is essential, I see it becoming more defined and focused in certain verticals. I envision a specialised channel with a few key players in specific verticals and there will not be more than a handful to choose from for end users. These will be the partners that cover the large corporates, as they will be able to provide undivided support from a technical point of view. With the implementation of BEE and the strict guidelines put in place for the success thereof, I see that the SME space will be flooded with upcoming partners that will strive to be successful. There is a threat in this regard; the speed at which these SME resellers will succeed will require specific and focused technical training, in a short period of time. Bottom line, exciting times lie ahead in the reseller space.

Your best advice to the channel: Trust vendors and distributors, engage with us and don’t be scared to ask.

Describe your ideal day: Being out in the field with resellers visiting end users is the perfect day for me.

 

Nigel Wynne, Tintri, Networks Unlimited

Why should resellers buy your product: Tintri is proven to be a solution that guarantees consistent performance and we have numerous reference customers both locally and globally. Resellers can be assured that all the tools and training are easily accessible and they have the full support of both the sales and technical teams at Networks Unlimited and Tintri.

Together, we can offer joint webinars, co-sponsor events and run joint campaigns, sharing resources and costs, and increasing our outreach and presence. This can save time and money, and can put our message in front of more people – encouraging the reseller to win more sales and earn accordingly.

How can vendors make your life easier:  Communication and transparency are key to success. Pre-approved incentives to resellers can give a little extra push to close a deal. Promotions, marketing collateral and give-aways are always well received by the channel. Clear communication regarding product information such as new products, new lines, product changes, support, and more is also essential. It is also beneficial when vendors share their views on customer behaviour, such as: are customers changing the expos they attend? Are there new buying trends? In addition, it is crucial for vendors to keep us posted around shipping information, including port departure and estimated arrival and if there have been any changes. Also important is the sharing of company information such as employee changes, recent press and successes, as well as marketing information so that we can see how they are marketing their solution in order for us to reinforce those efforts.

How can resellers make your life easier: By attending our sales enablement and technical workshops. These sessions assist the sales and technical people within the resellers to understand the benefits of our technology and where to position it. The resellers normally have a bigger footprint than distribution and their reach can spread across a continent, giving our solution presence over a much wider area. Resellers generally have strong relationships with their customers and are often seen as “trusted advisors” which gives them the opportunity to introduce new or disruptive technologies to them. This assists distribution as the reseller has a larger footprint and they have the ear of key decision-makers and influencers. Resellers are the key component when trying to penetrate a market.

How do you see the future of the channel: The channel will always be extremely important to us. I don’t see a big change in the way they do business, although they may become more selective on the technology they are positioning due to market trends and the requirements of their customers.

Your best advice to the channel: Pick your battles. Align yourselves with transparent suppliers and technology that is best-of-breed. This will defuse risk, give you peace of mind and keep the doors open for future business.

Describe your ideal day: My ideal day would be spent with customers presenting, negotiating or discussing Tintri – and receiving orders.

 

Hannes Rheeder, Enterprise Systems Management: Netscout/ SevOne/ Uplogix, Networks Unlimited

Why should resellers buy your product: Resellers will increase their product portfolio, increasing their value-add to their customers and increasing their revenue stream. Automation and artificial intelligence (AI), key business drivers of the ESM business unit, can address the dire economic times we currently find ourselves in.

How can vendors make your life easier: Vendors will make my life easier by embracing an “emerging market focus”. For example: localised pricelists, increased margins and marketing campaigns focused on “emerging market” specific needs.

How can resellers make your life easier: Resellers can make my life easier by becoming more product-focused and understanding the business benefit of their solutions.

How do you see the future of the channel: The future of the channel is dependent on how the vendor embraces the channel and the value they see in the channel – the perceived value distributors and resellers add to the sale. If the vendor does not see the value of both the distributor and the reseller then the future of the channel is doomed and eventually the vendor will be forced to sell direct. The problem with this route to market is it is limited and cannot scale. All vendors should understand the values that each link in the chain adds.

Your best advice to the channel: The vendor, distributor and reseller all have a unique role to play. All should commit to marketing awareness and campaigns.

Describe your ideal day: Closing multi-million dollar deals …

 

Neo Nhantumbo, SmarterCode, Obsidian Systems

Why should resellers buy your product: With the proliferation of various products that bombard end users as a result of easy access through marketing channels, individuals may miss the bigger picture. Obsidian Systems has opted to work with a collaboration of products to introduce a complete solution for infrastructure, automation and operational efficiency.

How can vendors make your life easier: As MasterVar for Docker and the only reseller of CoScale in South Africa, our vendors are completely supportive of growing a young market alongside us and continuing to work with established vendors like Red Hat with OpenShift.

How can resellers make your life easier: Being a reseller, particularly in the Open Source industry, is more a collaborative effort and being open to expanding territory rather than stealing market share. We believe there is more than enough space for everyone to operate in.

How do you see the future of the channel: The channel will continue to grow in this area as IoT, AI and containerisation dominates a new way of delivering better IT services.

Your best advice to the channel: To keep up to speed with the direction of trends and new innovative ways.

Describe your ideal day: Talking and meeting – face-to-face where possible or using tools that allow you to keep updated with everyone in the channel.

 

Dawie Labuschagne, SmarterData, Obsidian Systems

Why should resellers buy your product: Our vendor-agnostic approach to managing, analysing and governing your data – whether you are trying to integrate a strategy for your current systems or starting a greenfields project.

How can vendors make your life easier: Embarking on a big data strategy is not a short-term project and will require collaboration both internally and externally with vendors. Open Source provides the best platform that allows for interoperability, scalability and longevity for your strategy.

How can resellers make your life easier: We offer exclusive services as a MasterVar of Talend. We are the first in South Africa with Dataguise and an established service provider for Hortonworks.

How do you see the future of the channel: Once again, as most commentators in the big data space would attest, if you’re not in big data, you’re not in business.

Your best advice to the channel: Start with the basics first, get the right team together, secure buy-in from the start and don’t lock yourself in. Be open and flexible in order to foresee current and emerging trends such as AI, mobile and new technology.

Describe your ideal day: As a product manager, understanding the intricacies and impact of a big data solution for customers is essential to offering the best advice.

 

Kyle Kietsman, SmarterTeams, Obsidian Systems

Why should resellers buy your product: Atlassian provides the tools to help every team unleash their full potential. It is an enabler for users in any industry, not necessarily developers or coders. It is accessible to anyone wanting to enable better workflows, collaboration and transparent communication.

How can vendors make your life easier: As the only reseller in South Africa, Atlassian is growing exponentially. As customer solutions and end user needs require more complex solutions, Atlassian continues to support local marketing efforts.

How can resellers make your life easier: Not applicable.

How do you see the future of the channel: With people needing tools to connect, track and collaborate in teams, these technologies will be continually growing to meet the needs of the users.

Your best advice to the channel: Atlassian is enabling communities through their online platform to connect, share and learn. The company’s blogs and active community of over a million users create queries and also provide answers to any issue related to all products online.

Describe your ideal day: Being online and available when customers and vendors need me.

 

Ntsiki Qamba, SmarterCode, Obsidian Systems

Why should resellers buy your product: Obsidian Systems is first and foremost an Open Source expert. It is a longstanding reseller of Linux, regardless of flavour. As one of the oldest Red Hat partners, we have seen the impact of Linux servers on speed and efficiency of operating systems. We have also witnessed how virtualisation and cloud technologies have disrupted the industry, and now the containerisation and scalability of virtual machines. Nevertheless we have proven the endless benefits of Open Source Enterprise for your organisation.

How can vendors make your life easier: With new technologies and trends becoming more attractive, it is often the consultants that keep the operations and infrastructure in order and who are, at times, neglected. Building skills is critical and more important now than ever before in the Linux space, to serve as a foundation for things like Hadoop, virtualisation and cloud skills.

How can resellers make your life easier: With established brands vendors can work together to grow the Open Source market. There is room enough for everyone and even more room to grow.

How do you see the future of the channel: The channel will also have a need for what makes SmarterCode work.

Your best advice to the channel: Alliances for both cloud service providers and hardware suppliers are shifting their focus to intelligent computing systems.

Describe your ideal day: My ideal day is getting a great workout to be on top of my game to get the best deals for our customers.

 

Vassen Naicker, Intel NUC/Compute Stick, Ricoh Consumables & Printers, Kaspersky at Rectron.

Why should resellers buy your product: Ricoh Printer & Consumables: Value for money, low TCO, reliable, in-house repair centre at Rectron. No 1 printer brand in Europe, Been in South Africa since 1987

Kaspersky: Kaspersky security products help to give you the “Power to Protect” what matters most to you. For over 20 years, Kaspersky has been recognised as experts in the fight against malware and cybercrime.

Intel NUC: Previously, if you wanted the power and versatility of a desktop, you had to clear plenty of space on the floor or a table for a tower. Today, mini PCs like Intel’s NUC (Next Unit of Computing) series make ultraportable laptops look large. Fast enough to be your primary PC, but small enough to fit anywhere, you can custom as per your requirements.

Intel’s Compute Stick isn’t that hard to grasp: It’s a computer… on a stick! Using one of its Atom processors, Intel managed to cram everything a fully-functional PC needs into something the size of a few packs of gum. All you need to get going is to plug it into a display with an HDMI port, connect it to power and attach your accessories. It heralds a new era of computing, one where you can turn any display into a desktop in a few minutes. It could change the way IT workers manage computer labs, kiosks and digital signage forever

How can vendors make your life easier: Understand the local South African Market, design and implement marketing and sales strategies as per the region.

How can resellers make your life easier: Loyalty is a word that seems to be becoming extinct, placing value on after-sales service and other value-adds rather than just buying based on price.

How do you see the future of the channel: Distributors must combine their expert knowledge of the requirements of their vendors’ offering with mutual understanding of their respective needs and requirements in their respective market segments. Products on offer to the channel should be the most appropriate as per demand to reap the reward. After-sales service should be an important factor in all product offerings. The way business is conducted today is constantly changing and we have to adapt and evolve with the times.

Your best advice to the channel: The way business is conducted changes daily and we have to adapt and evolve with the times or we may be left behind.

Describe your ideal day:  Time travel back to 1987.

 

Etienne Maritz, D-Link, Huawei at Rectron.

Why should resellers buy your product: It’s reliable and well-priced.

How can vendors make your life easier: By sending us a monthly roadmap of what is coming and what’s going.

How can resellers make your life easier: By including us more in the quoting phase so we can get involved in the beginning to make sure we offer the right solution to the end user.

How do you see the future of the channel: A lot of focus will be placed on AI.

Your best advice to the channel: Adapt with the market so that you don’t get left behind.

Describe your ideal day: Camping and fishing, away from all the city noise.

 

Francois Rheeders, Gigabyte Components, Corsair, Cooler Master, PNY Professional, EKWB at Rectron

Why should resellers buy your product:  My portfolio of products was hand-picked from some of the world’s best in our industry, to be complimentary to each other, and remains so. I prefer to offer a holistic solution as opposed to a singular view in the distribution landscape. This way we are able to supply an overall solution that equates to a better value proposition, over and above the value the products or vendors offer already.

Gigabyte Components need no introduction, as they have been in the business for over 30 years as a first-class manufacturer, and been with Rectron since 1995. Add to that the solutions offered by both Corsair and Cooler Master – ranging from Power Supplies, Memory Modules, Enthusiast-grade chassis, Cooling and even Gaming Furniture.

The recent addition of EKWB’s range of product rings testament to the ever-expanding need for custom solutions by consumers, and their love for individuality. The solutions offered by EKWB are limited only by your imagination.

Ever-expanding in the professional space, PNY and NVidia’s range of Deep Learning, Quadro and multi-monitor solutions offer target enterprises the computing power to break into new areas like the IOT space or more applied computing like the medical field.

How can vendors make your life easier: I would always advocate for local presence with vendors. Having feet on the ground for your company makes it possible to design plans based on your specific regional requirements. Reducing the margin for error with global “cookie cutter” plans may have adverse effects on your efforts as a distributor locally. If the plans don’t align, growth is not something that can organically happen.

How can resellers make your life easier: Resellers don’t particularly make life hard, per se. If I had to supply input on this subject, I would probably ask that more training be attended, or accepted.  Oftentimes training on new products and sectors is arranged with very little interest from resellers.  Granted, businesses don’t stand still while attending training, and closing up shop is probably your last option when running your business. However, learning about new trends and products, allow you to place these in your ecosystem and generate new solutions for yourself.

How do you see the future of the channel: Business models for distribution internationally have changed significantly. Those changes put significant pressure on the channel if not managed correctly. This is where it is very important for the channel to remain innovative and supply their consultancy-based or solution-driven business, so they aren’t bypassed or rendered insignificant in a direct distribution model.

Your best advice to the channel:  Kind of covered in the topic above.

Describe your ideal day:  The day I can fulfill my graphics card back-orders …

 

Stefan Hopley, Samsung Printer, Office Automation & Consumables at Rectron

Why should resellers buy your product:  Samsung printers have been Number 1 in Q1 of 2017 in the following categories:  Total single function with 20% market share and in Total copier/MFP with a 29,3% market share. Samsung as a printing brand is constantly growing and has taken market share from other well-known Brands.

How can vendors make your life easier:  Vendors can ensure that all distribution levels have the same message going to the channel.

How can resellers make your life easier: Resellers can get as much information as possible regarding the end customer’s specific needs. It makes quoting a lot easier when you have the exact requirements.

How do you see the future of the channel: Distributors and vendors should work closely together to ensure that we all look after the end customer.

Your best advice to the channel:  Covered this in the above questions.

Describe your ideal day:  Having happy customers because of our excellent solution and service offerings.

 

Jean-Pierre De Villiers, Intel Server, Thecus NAS, Chenbro, AIC, Tyan, OnApp, Acronis On prem at Rectron

Why should resellers buy your product:  Being part of the B2B team within Rectron means that we are here to solve problems for our customers. That being said, I would like to be seen as a trusted advisor or consultant, rather than just a product mover or box-dropper. The products that I select are to fulfil a specific need that my customers and the channel have and at the same time to offer the best quality that is available to the market. Intel PCSD servers are extremely well engineered and offer great flexibility in terms of the configurations you can put together. They also offer Cloud and HPC blocks that are Level 9 integrated systems, offering even better value than previously experienced. Thecus is not new to the NAS market by any means, but I can say they are one of the best kept secrets that offer great value and a wide range of products. Their product offering ranges, from a 2-Bay SOHO unit all the way up to an All-Flash unit that will deliver upwards of 700K IOPS. Tyan have allowed us to enter new avenues like GPU server solutions and low powered Xeon-D or Atom solutions. AIC is the latest addition to our server family, but I foresee a long and fruitful relationship with them as they bring a lot of innovative designs to our server lineup like high-availability and a newly announced 1U 36-Bay All NVMe Flash storage Server.

How can vendors make your life easier:  Great supply, maximum months to pay and endless rebates. That is in a perfect world. However, in reality, it helps a great deal if the vendor has a good understanding of the market and the challenges we face as distributors. Anyone can sell a product, but the proof is in the pudding – and in this case the pudding is warranty and RMA. If my vendor supports me in this regard that goes a long way to making my life easier.

How can resellers make your life easier:  Selling on value and not only price and brand. Rectron offer great training sessions and I feel that resellers can only benefit from attending them.

How do you see the future of the channel:  If I knew this, I would be a very rich man indeed! Change has always been the name of the game in the IT industry, but over the last couple of years things have just exploded. Everything is becoming more automated and machines are learning faster and faster, but at the end of the day relationships are still extremely important. If you are not innovative or add value to your customers, I think the channel will by-pass you in future.

Your best advice to the channel:  Build strong relationships, give more than you take and be the disruption – don’t get disrupted.

Describe your ideal day:  On a wine farm in Franschhoek with a full-bodied red and my lovely wife.

 

Kevin Padayachee, Vivotek at Rectron

Why should resellers buy your product:  Vivotek has been in the South African market for over 10 years, with a strong reputation for reliable surveillance products. As a complete surveillance solutions provider with advanced competency in panoramic cameras, they have put particular focus on channel development.

How can vendors make your life easier:  We must understand that each avenue in our market is unique and we must adopt a strategy that aligns to their specific needs. We should also always keep our stakeholders up to date with all new and available technology to drive the brand.

How can resellers make your life easier:  Communicate your requirements so that we, as Rectron, can make use of all vendor resources to help secure business with your end customers. Value-adds are vitally important as this will secure any future business the end customer might have.

How do you see the future of the channel: Resellers will gravitate towards vendors who protect their margin and work with all segments of the channel to secure business for them.

Your best advice to the channel: Protect all stakeholders. This is how we add long-term value to the end user who will generate business in the future.

Describe your ideal day:  Invoicing Vivotek.

 

Shelly Stephenson, Canon – Full Range at Rectron

Why should resellers buy your product: Canon is a premium brand with a long history of quality and innovation. Canon Cameras, both Digital and DSLR, have long been an industry leader in this field and continue to provide photographic equipment for the beginner, enthusiast and professionals. Canon printers have a solution for all users from entry-level home users to corporate high-end. Canon can provide a complete quality solution from beginning to end in the photographic and print cycle from cameras and lenses, printers, paper and consumables including software.

How can vendors make your life easier: Ensuring that all distribution levels have the same message going out to the channel.

How can resellers make your life easier:  Understanding their customers’ requirements and intended application of the products is helpful to making the correct suggestions for the customer.

How do you see the future of the channel:  Vendors and distributors should work together. It is vital to understand the channel and the ever-changing needs. While price definitely plays an important role, we need to find alternative ways to add value and assistance to the channel.

Your best advice to the channel:  Provide support for each other. Business is constantly evolving and we need to communicate regularly and effectively with each other

Describe your ideal day:  Helping customers supply effective solutions where all are happy. A sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.

 

Yvelde Scrooby, Hisense TV and cellphone; Samsung – Monitors, SSD, TV and AV, HHP, LFD at Rectron

Why should resellers buy your product: Hisense – Hisense offers a unique four-year warranty with registration on their product and are always striving to offer the best quality products.

Samsung – as market leaders on multiple fronts, Samsung offers products with the end customer in mind. From gaming to hand held devices and premium TV’s. Each product has a little special Samsung consumer touch in it. They are also leaders in technology and always inspire new trends.

How can vendors make your life easier: Having a clear channel strategy will ensure loyalty among your customers.

How can resellers make your life easier: Creating lasting relationships with your vendor and distributor will result in open and honest communications, as well as new business opportunities not only in the reseller environment, but at the end customer level as well.

How do you see the future of the channel: With IOT being top of mind, we can only grow. Distribution truly has to adapt to the new era of business namely, online, which I am proud to say Rectron already does. There are many growth opportunities and the pie is definitely big enough for all distis. So for the future I see positive growth, as long as we know how to play the game.

Your best advice to the channel:  Adapt to the new era!

Describe your ideal day: A spa day with my girlfriends and a few cocktails while relaxing on the beach at the end of the day.

 

Zelda Emmerick, product manager: marketing at Ricoh SA

Why should resellers buy your productsA key thing is that all of the hardware devices we develop connect seamlessly to one another so we can deliver a complete office solution right from communications all the way through to document management. That meets a number of modern enterprise needs so resellers are bringing state-of-the-art solutions to their customers.

This interconnectivity between devices is a key differentiator because, while printing may no longer hold pride of place as the revenue earner on a vendor’s catalogue like it did in the past, it still provides bread and butter annuity income. The value that is underlined in this environment now is the smart way of working with documents around storing, saving, archiving, moving them around the business, and destroying them once they are no longer required by regulations. We offer resellers effective document software solutions that add that value for their customers.

How can vendors make your life easier: Since we’re the vendor we add value through sharing relevant market trends that inform resellers’ go-to-market strategies. We help those in niche verticals by providing relevant solutions for their customers. It’s simpler, faster, more efficient, and ultimately delivers a powerful customer solution when the reseller has a ready-made solution with all the right building blocks already in place. Then we back them up with the right support and training, the market information, and the marketing.

How can resellers make your life easier: Information is typically shared downstream from vendor to reseller. That informs their marketing and sales drives. But there’s a much leaner stream of information flowing back up the channel. It would be beneficial to know, direct from the horse’s mouth, what the customer’s hot buttons are, what they want, what they need, what would make their lives easier and more productive.

How do you see the future of the channel: In our own channel, vendors will focus on large enterprises because they have the infrastructure to cope with servicing those enterprises. More specifically, servicing large accounts can be a huge financial drain that many smaller organisations aren’t prepared for or haven’t catered to facilitate. I see many smaller organisations folding because they win a large contract. But they invest their cash in getting the equipment the customer ordered. Then they invest more in the skills to deploy that equipment. And more in integrating systems. And more in several other aspects of these types of contracts. And before long they run short of cash. The problem is that customers will pay them once the scope document is signed off against the delivery document. When smaller companies have the resources to arrive at that point they may still find that the customer won’t sign off against the delivery. Sometimes that’s due to poor delivery, but it’s just as often due to scope creep. And smaller businesses aren’t often able to take loans on the strength of their contract because it’s too risky for many of the big financial organisations. Some of the smaller financial houses are coming on board to offer bridging finance for these cases, but that’s usually at high interest rates to counter the enormous risk they face. That can quickly eat a small company’s margin. And there is a constant stream of start-ups because many guys can find the seed capital to get off the ground.

Your best advice to the channel: Go niche, go big, or go home. Otherwise you won’t survive. You have to find your sweet spot where your services are unique and you can sustain yourself. Or you must get so big you’re a giant and nobody can touch you. But if you try to compete with everyone you’ll get gobbled up. I’ve seen the bigger resellers do it time and again.

Describe your ideal day: Everything goes according to plan.

 

Abrie Bezuidenhout, Comstor Cisco, Westcon-Comstor

Why should resellers buy your product: You can’t have tea if you don’t have biscuits. In the same way you can’t have cloud if you don’t have Meraki. The Meraki solution includes – BYOD, high-density WiFi, next-gen retail, mobile device management, location analytics, branch networking, campus edge and Meraki SD-WAN. We then add our partner enablement offerings like the Meraki 360 training, marketing campaigns and much more.

How can vendors make your life easier: Hosting more demos and training updates, and vetted end user lead generation.

How can resellers make your life easier: If they focus on refreshing their installed base and involve us from the start to enable us to better support them with the configuration, services offerings, etc.

How do you see the future of the channel: Resellers will need to on-board the relevant cloud products, services and tools to ensure they stay relevant in the market.

Your best advice to the channel: Form valuable partnerships that will enable growth and innovation.

Describe your ideal day: Assisting our resellers with getting the best pricing by making use of all the relevant vendor promotions, and then to guide them with the vendor partner certifications and specialisation.

 

Brendan Mac Carron, Palo Alto Networks, Westcon-Comstor

Why should resellers buy your product: Palo Alto Networks has four key characteristics that enable the prevention of successful cyberattacks which makes them very relevant in today’s world. They are: natively integrated technologies, automation of protection, extensibility and flexibility, and threat intelligence sharing.

How can vendors make your life easier: Palo Alto focuses around the end user and developing business, and works closely with distribution and the reseller. I believe that a vendor’s focus should be strengthening relations from the vendor all the way through to reseller and then on to the end user.

How can resellers make your life easier: We are fortunate to have highly-qualified resellers in this product portfolio. In my opinion, we just need to constantly drive awareness around security trends and make sure they are aware of the risks around them daily – and that this message is then conveyed to the end user.

How do you see the future of the channel: Security market trends and technologies are rapidly changing as cybersecurity threats become more pervasive and sophisticated. Resellers need to help their customers prevent, detect and mitigate against security threats.

Your best advice to the channel: If you aren’t going all the way, why go at all?

Describe your ideal day: My ideal day is remaining positive and full of energy in what can be a testing environment and ensuring I take at least one positive out of every day.

 

David Odayar, VMware, Westcon-Comstor

Why should resellers buy your product: VMware is a pioneer of virtualisation, which allows companies to get more power from their servers and the data centre, often resulting in big cost savings. Now with its move into the cloud, mobility and its ability to virtualise the network and storage, they are even more relevant. Our customers range from small businesses to massive enterprises.

How can vendors make your life easier: Wish all vendors can be software-related so that order turnaround can be between 24 to 72 hours for all our customers and clients.

How can resellers make your life easier: By having a better understanding of the pricing models for the various technologies that they sell.

How do you see the future of the channel: We all know that technologies come and go. Sometimes, technology companies do the same thing. VMware has dominated the virtualisation market ever since that market came into being by offering good software and support – they have now extended this value across the entire cloud, the data centre and on devices. What could go wrong?

Your best advice to the channel: VMware has proven time and again to be the pioneers of virtualisation, if your customers want to get to the cloud you need to get your customers and end users to virtualise.

Describe your ideal day: Engaging and training partners on VMware technology.

 

Dean Verappan, NetApp, Westcon-Comstor

Why should resellers buy your product: It is a continuously evolving product set to match a customer’s storage needs in a rapidly changing digital world.

How can vendors make your life easier: A greater local two-tier channel focus.  Closer partnerships on marketing engagements for mutually beneficial outcomes and simpler competitive guides.

How can resellers make your life easier: Resellers need to focus on internal staff enablement i.e. sales and technical competencies, as well as better vendor specialisation as opposed to a “shot gun” approach to business.

How do you see the future of the channel: A channel that specialises and moves towards digital procurement i.e. cloud services.

Your best advice to the channel: Strengthen your relationship with your customers through improved product skills and capability to make yourself indispensable to your customers.

Describe your ideal day: Friday 17h00, drinks with the team.

 

Donovan Couve, Comstor Cisco, Westcon-Comstor

Why should resellers buy your product: We sell the entire stack of Cisco solutions which is today the largest networking company in the world. However, I believe it will only be a matter of time before Cisco will also be the largest in security, software and cloud. With our unique Comstor Partner Journey we help our resellers to accelerate their business by adopting new technology, verticals and/or expand geographically. Furthermore, we have launched a Comstor Cisco Services desk that offers from level 0 to 3 Technical 24/7 telephonic technical services which a reseller can white label to enable them to bolster their own offering to the end user customer.

How can vendors make your life easier: By supporting us with updating the marketing of new technologies, products and services via partner and end user events, marketing and PR.

How can resellers make your life easier: By enrolling in the Comstor Partner Journey, as that will enable them to increase their expertise and better identify more opportunities, as well as allow them to expand their offerings to the market.

How do you see the future of the channel: A distributor that wants to stay relevant must be able to evolve and offer the channel an array of products, services and tools. Being part of a global organisation, I am delighted to see that we are fully on track to evolve into a truly value-added distributor.

Your best advice to the channel: Do not forget to sit back from time to time to review and plan for the future. If you lose sight of your strategic goals you will struggle to grow your business. Your staff is your business’ most valuable asset so make sure you share your goals with them, enable them and empower them as it takes a team to achieve goals.

Describe your ideal day: In front of the customer talking about the latest, greatest technology and how we can form partnerships to take the best-of-breed to market. If I can do that all day, every day, I will be over the moon … but we all have some admin to do.

 

Luke Bainbridge, Netshield and Zyxel, Westcon Comstor

Why should resellers buy your product: Netshield offers an extensive range of high-quality IT infrastructure components, all at competitive and affordable prices. Netshield has an extremely strong R&D team who constantly help to keep Netshield on the edge of technology and development. It is also a locally-based company situated in Pretoria, so the constant ROE fluctuations do not affect the pricing on a daily basis. Zyxel is an ideal fit to the SMB market in terms of PoE switching, WLAN and security products like firewalls and security gateways. It also offers a range of home-based products that help increase the experience and performance through the home user’s network. Zyxel also has a service provider range of products including ADSL, VDSL, LTE and the ever-growing fibre solutions. Zyxel is feature-rich and price-competitive, offering a user-friendly, performance-driven approach. They really are “Your Networking Ally”.

How can vendors make your life easier:  Fortunately, my vendors are quite involved in the business which helps give Westcon the edge when dealing with customers. Additional discount, maybe?

How can resellers make your life easier: Our resellers have really stuck with us through all the business changes we’ve encountered. We’re now focusing on putting them right back at the core of our business and we actually just want to make their lives easier which, in turn, makes our lives easier too.

How do you see the future of the channel: More and more “common folk” are grasping the concept of networking, and with easily accessible tools, YouTube videos and guides to help them along, people are understanding the workings of their environment more and are not as “scared” of technology. Now more than ever, value-add and customer services have a huge part to play in the business process. Ecommerce is quickly becoming the easiest and most convenient way to buy, with tools integrated to guide the customer along and help spec their needs, save their payment details and actively keep track of their deliveries and ETA’s. We as humans need to show why we should be kept in the loop by offering outstanding service from start to finish.

Your best advice to the channel: “Make a customer, not a sale.”

Describe your ideal day: Wake up to sunshine and coffee, and no traffic! Get to the office and receive a pleasant ROE update; stock arrives early and is also invoiced with sufficient margins; and delivered in time for customer’s project rollout; free lunch. Repeat.

 

Mandre Stander, AudioCodes, Fujitsu, Jabra, Sonus, Viptela, Westcon-Comstor

Why should resellers buy your product: The products I have in my portfolio work well together when building unified communication (UC) solutions. The brands in my stable have products to address from the datacentre to end-point, session border controlling, voice efficiency and software-defined WAN. All of these components are needed in some way or form when building a UC solution.

How can vendors make your life easier: Ease of transacting or “easy processes” would be at the top of requirements. When that happens, the majority of the other factors tend to fall into place without much attention. As much as it is our responsibility to market the products and solutions to our partners, the vendors should market the same to the end-customers in order for the push-pull to work. It is like bread and butter go well together, but neither is really attractive on their own.

How can resellers make your life easier: Clear defining details in requests. Asking for a server (with no additional detail) is like walking into a dealership and asking for a car. One of many things can come your way with an open-ended request like that. The ripple effect is that the “server” quoted on, might be too expensive due to the configuration, hence disqualifying the partner from the opportunity. In saying that, when a partner is disqualified, it automatically means that I am disqualified. So, in the interests of winning together, knowledge about a product or solution goes a long way.

How do you see the future of the channel: The channel will always evolve. It is one of the only things that we can be certain of. The trick for distribution is to evolve with it in order to stay as relevant to both vendors and partners as possible.

Your best advice to the channel: Do not miss an opportunity. Knowledge of products, solutions and vendors are the single most important factor to spotting an opportunity. It does not mean that you have to know everything about how a product will work in that opportunity – that is what we are there for. You just need to be able to spot it and phone us.

Describe your ideal day: Open skies, bush, fire, meat, music. Put that together and I will enjoy it.

 

Prebashini Reddy, Microsoft CSP, Westcon Group

Why should resellers buy your product: We are committed to helping you capitalise on the global cloud opportunity by enabling and inspiring your business to grow and thrive. You need a partner who has the global strength and expertise to extend your capabilities and is focused on transforming your business to deliver results together. Westcon-Comstor will help you address the business opportunities of today and tomorrow with a market-leading portfolio of physical and digital products and services. We work closely together with our partners to deliver results by combining expert technical and market knowledge with a uniquely collaborative engagement model, industry-leading enablement programmes and platforms – namely BlueSky

How can vendors make your life easier: It would help to reduce the complexity of incentive programmes, and better streamline the operational and marketing processes to suit the channel.

How can resellers make your life easier: I believe that utilising and optimising all the partner enablement opportunities available from Microsoft and Westcon-Comstor, and using these to provide better solutions to their customers, will certainly make things easier.

How do you see the future of the channel: The Microsoft business landscape is dynamically changing and the channel needs to get on the CSP wagon or risk being left behind.

Your best advice to the channel:Let’s help our partners detach themselves from the traditional Microsoft volume licences and embrace the Microsoft Cloud. If your head’s not in the cloud then you will never reach the SKY!

Describe your ideal day: Productive meetings with partners who are passionate about providing Microsoft Cloud solutions to their customers … and a fairly clean mailbox (rarely the case).

 

Rentia Booysen, Avaya & Polycom, Westcon

Why should resellers buy your product: The question should be why wouldn’t they buy it? “My” products are global, award-winning brands that offer partners solutions to the current economic situation and  forever changing technology.

How can vendors make your life easier: Vendors need to talk more, and openly, with the channel and work with us to create a sustainable framework for ICT development.

How can resellers make your life easier: Doing any deal, it is always easier when all parties involved have all the details needed to close the deal.

How do you see the future of the channel: I think that the channel will become smaller. More mergers will take place, leaving us with the best of the best.

Your best advice to the channel: Don’t walk away from any opportunity. And team up with other partners that can strengthen your own business.

Describe your ideal day: Any day without traffic. Also, maybe sitting on the beach … with a drink.

 

Shiraaz Ahmed, Smart Net Total CARE, Westcon-Comstor

Why should resellers buy your product: If a reseller buys Smart Net they unlock numerous benefits with their contract. They can also boost their growth and profits, strengthen their customer relationships and assist customers with changing technical support needs, as well as increase revenues by attaching services at the point of sale. Furthermore, Smart Net allows a customer to augment product sales by capturing product upgrade and refresh opportunities, and order, renew, track, and maintain contracts more efficiently.

How can vendors make your life easier: I have found that the most important area where a vendor can make my life easier is through better communication across the channel lines, as well as between our two companies. None of us should ever assume that a vendor knows our business.

How can resellers make your life easier: Resellers will most certainly make my life as a distributor easier if they attend training and get to know the products better, as well as gain an improved understanding of what it has to offer and the total view of its benefits.

How do you see the future of the channel: People have been saying that the channel is dying for years now but, personally, I believe that with technology such as cloud computing it won’t shrink, but instead enjoy even more growth in the near future.

Your best advice to the channel: As a channel we need to change with technology to stay ahead of our competitors.

Describe your ideal day: I like to start off my day with some chai tea and Marie biscuits with butter. To then get to work and do what I love most, assist my customers and colleagues and get things done. Once I have achieved this, heading home to go and listen to my boys after a long day at work is the perfect ending to the perfect day.

Share This