This time last year we devoted several pages to the subject of partnership (see MicroScope, 18 June 2002). As the economic downturn continued to bite, the subject of teaming up with rivals, rather than the expensive business of buying them, became a topic of discussion at all levels in the channel. Several of the more ambitious examples of partnerships in action have been revisited in this edition of the magazine — and with interesting results.
The question of trust proved to be a hurdle too high for some of the ideas mooted last year, and it turns out that the proven partnership successes can be classed as one-offs and unsuitable for use as templates for further reseller programmes.
However, there are a few resellers still enjoying the benefits of partnership and some dealers still prepared to try to encourage more rivals to share information and pool resources when it offers benefits to both parties.
The idea of partnership is not going to disappear, and although there may be a natural reluctance by some dealers to share their ‘crown jewels’ and hand over customer database information, it is impossible for some to grow and achieve their business goals without making links with other companies. In a climate where cash is tight and orders are slow, it makes even more sense to share ideas and knowledge.
The experience of those enthusing about partnerships is similar to that of remote working enthusiasts. One of the biggest hurdles to the wider adoption of teleworking has been the trust issue and the culture of suspicion that exists in most firms towards different working practices. The technology is here and there is also widespread, if grudging, recognition that it can benefit both employer and employee.
Partnerships can also deliver tangible results for those involved. The next few pages feature a couple of examples of where it can and has worked, covering the experiences of those resellers working together. Where partnerships have failed, it appears to be because of culture and suspicion rather than any technical reason.
So, one year on and the partnership report reads ‘could do much better’.