Managing North of the border

How many channel firms have country managers for Scotland and could that situation change with a yes vote for independence wonders Billy MacInnes

As someone with a more than passing interest (if not a vote) in the campaign for Scottish independence, I was interested in the story about EMC appointing a channel manager for Scotland. Not so much in terms of the appointment itself, sorry Mike Baur, but with the fact EMC decided it was a good idea to do so.

Reading further down the story I discovered that EMC already had a country manager for Scotland along with the more customary channel head for EMC UK & Ireland. The first question that occurred to me after reading that information was whether many other vendors have a country manager for Scotland. Probably not.

So then I wondered whether a ‘yes’ vote in the Scottish independence referendum would mean they might consider creating such a position. Again, probably not. The clue is in the job title for Terry Beale (featured in the EMC story) who is the head of channel for the UK & Ireland. Since the financial collapse of 2008, there has been significant retrenchment by vendors operating in Ireland and a good number have opted to serve the Irish market remotely from their UK operations.

I suspect we won’t see a rush by vendors to create country managers for Scotland in the event that there is a vote for independence on 18 September 2014. But there could be some interesting ramifications further down the line.

For starters, job titles that include ‘UK & Ireland’ will have to be amended. But what to? England, Scotland and Ireland, perhaps? Wales isn’t a kingdom, neither is Northern Ireland, so strictly speaking there won’t be a United Kingdom in the event that Scotland becomes independent. Instead there will be a kingdom (England), a principality (Wales) and a province (Northern Ireland) which doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue and won’t fit easily onto a business card. Besides, it sounds too much like the start of a joke.

So will Terry Beale, for example, be EMC head of channel for England, Scotland and Ireland? Or will he be channel head for England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Ireland? If so, is there a better way to order that list to get a smoother acronym than EWNISI? WISENI? ESIWNI? NISEW? ISENIW?

Opponents of independence for Scotland complain it will create unnecessary trade barriers and border controls with the other parts of the UK. This argument appears somewhat shaky when you consider the barriers between the UK as it currently stands and Ireland are so minimal that many companies can combine job titles for the UK and Ireland even though they are (usually) based in England.

But a further complication could arise if the current strong showing of UKIP in the European elections in England increases the eurosceptic mood in England to the point that what is left of the UK after a vote for Scottish independence decides to opt out of the EU but Scotland and Ireland remain in it. In that case, a company like EMC could be forced to have one head of channel for England, Wales and Northern Ireland and another for Scotland and Ireland. They’d probably have to set up separate subsidiaries too.

Anyone else see the irony in people opposed to the EU who complain about the bureaucracy voting to opt out and create bureaucracy and trade barriers between countries that trade freely today?

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