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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  08 Feb 2012

INFOTECH: Special is As Special Does


Recent Gauteng Business News

Having base-level product skills isn’t cutting it any longer in ones specialisation. Not for vendors. Not for end-users. And not for distributors and resellers. So what does any business need to go beyond these base-level technical skills to differentiate itself and continue to grow in today’s market‘ The prescription: specialise.

As the IT market continues to mature, access to highly focused technology “specialists” is becoming a more attractive concept for both vendors and their channel partners. Specialisations can make the difference in a providers business in today's more competitive environment, as more businesses are thinking hard about where to invest to drive growth and market differentiation.

“Given the current economic environment, all parties involved in the IT food chain need to be able to provide good value,” says Simon Campbell-Young, CEO of Phoenix Software. “Specialising in a specific product, or type of product, ensures revenue impact, higher profitability, new customers and better market differentiation, in that order. Our decision to focus on specific types of software has been steadily gaining us market share, and helping us align with our resellers and our vendors better.”

Understanding Your Specialisation Well is the First Step

Ultimately, he says, specialisation benefits all tiers in the channel, with a focus on the end-user. “If the end-user receives better solutions with higher quality surrounding services, they will drive the value back to the vendor through the right quality and quantity of partners into that track.”

While it may seem challenging for distributors or resellers to specialise in a specific area, in an economic environment that requires solution providers as well as vendors to scrutinise all of their investments, itÂ’s more important than ever for businesses to differentiate themselves. The challenges for solution providers of varying sizes has been the time, money and number of staff necessary to become an expert in a particular area. However, Campbell-Young points out that with product lifecycles compressing so rapidly, the next or subsequent iteration is usually based on the prior one. So, specialists can leverage their existing knowledge to get the jump on competitors.

“We leverage our skill set and credentials with not just our target end-users, but also with our resellers’ own sales, technical and marketing teams. Rather than sitting back and waiting for vendor support to drop in our laps, we proactively engage with all tiers in the channel,” explains Campbell-Young. In addition, he says, being a specialist allows a company to drive a focused and collaborative marketing plan.

Know Your Market Share in Your Specialisation

“I would challenge resellers to take a look at what they are selling successfully today and know their market share. The key thing is to make sure you are partnering with an organisation that is committing to some long-term plan that will benefit their business,” he adds. “It doesn’t matter how enticing a product promises to be if the distributor does not readily embrace the partner and provide local deal-level support where required. Make sure you’ve established very tight customer relationships based on deep and consistent business process insights with your customers – or others will attempt to use the specialist badge of competency to create their own ‘special’ relationships with those very customers.”


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