CHANNEL CHAMPIONS’ CONFERENCE, 2002: Services For Survival, Services For Health



Recently, DQ Channels India brought partners and vendors together on a common
platform. The occasion was the Channel Champions’ Conference, 2002, and on the
agenda a quickfire discussion on the various aspects of services… The result:
A Rs 22,000-crore opportunit

It was once again that time of the year when DQ Channels India got together
with the channel community to recognize the effort of vendors. The occasion was
the celebration of the DQCI Channels’ Choice Awards held on 5th April in New
Delhi.

But this year the celebrations had a twist to them. DQCI in association with
Epson, hosted the Channel Champions Conference 2002 which consisted of a panel
discussion. Pradeep Gupta, MD, Cyber Media (India) and publisher of DQCI,
welcomed the guests for the evening and presented a realistic perspective of the
financial year 2001-02. He said that, “The year gone by has seen shrinking
margins, shrinking business and shrinking credit terms. It is to the credit of
the channel community that it has shown tremendous resilience and sustained
itself in such tough times.”

He was however hopeful for 2002-03 when he said, “The slowdown is past
us. The economy is gathering momentum and we are on our way up.”

Services: The new wave of opportunity
Services contributed Rs 22,000 crore worth of business during 2001-02. Quite
naturally the topic for the discussion at the event was ‘Services for survival
and health.’ Services has become important today as the consumer is ready to
pay for a service that is rightly priced.

Raj Kumar
Rishi,
 country manager
(commercial business), HP India
“Vendors should see that the right infrastructure in up and running to supply spares”

Representing the channel community were Anil Sachdeva of Kadam Marketing and
President of Delhi Computer Traders Association, Rajesh Bakshi of NetLink
Business Systems and Ranjan Chopra of Team Computers. The vendor’s side was
represented by Amar Babu from Intel, Moninder Jain from Samsung and Raj Kumar
Rishi from HP. Shyam Malhotra, Editor-in-Chief of Cyber Media, moderated the
discussion.

Beginning the discussion, Anil acknowledged the fact that there is money in
services. He added, “Certain standards have been set in the IT industry
with respect to service delivery.” The channel today has come to recognize
the fact that an alignment with the authorized service network is essential.
“This is the first step in moving up the value chain and after that the sky
is the limit,” he added.

Moninder Jain
marketing manager, Samsung India
“Ensure that you have in place a model that takes care of service at every key level”

Taking the discussion further, Raj of HP said the first step is to clearly
define what services mean and then fit it into one’s business model. Talking
about the evolution of the market, he said, “A decade ago, market forces
were different from what they are today.” He explained that in those times
the entire value chain, starting from vendors to final-tier resellers, were
doing everything.

But over the last ten years, roles have become clearly defined. Vendors are
focussed on demand generation, and wholesalers on credit control while the
customer contact is largely the prerogative of the final-tier reseller. As far
as the product market is concerned a business model has evolved and is in place
today.

Amar Babu
GM (channels), Intel India
“As a priority, the partner has to be clear on what service spaces he needs to be in” 

The need of the hour is to define a business model for the services space
too. Each tier in the chain has to fulfill a clearly defined role. Rishi added,
“Vendors’ main responsibility is to see that the right infrastructure is
in place. At the same time, resellers need to ensure that the people in the
field are rightly trained and well-equipped to address the issues at hand.”

He added, “Everyone should spend their time and effort on their
responsibility in the entire service value proposition. They should not be doing
what may be someone else’s responsibility.”

Time to take charge
Rajesh of NetLink Business Systems addressed a different perspective.
Accordng to him, “It is time to tell the customer that services do not come
for free anymore.”

Ranjan Chopra
managing director, 
Team Computers
Services means buying skills, experience and time…and entails selling these
too

Going back to the times when margins were in double digits, resellers provide
free services. He emphasized that it is time to de-bundle services. He added,
“We have to tell the customer that value-added services cannot come for
free.”

Ranjan of Team Computers went on to define services rather interestingly. He
said, “Services are essentially buying skills, experience and time and it
also entails selling the same. What we need to appreciate is what skills are we
buying and what are we selling?” He advised fellow businessmen to look at
what opportunities are vacant and develop skills to address them.
“Opportunities could also lie in geographies that are not being addressed
or it could be a customer segment that is under-addressed,” he noted.

The larger picture
There was a great deal of emphasis on the fact that services can never be a
short-term exercise. One has to look at the bigger picture. This was also
relevant as the people involved are an important element to the service
industry. Ranjan said, “You have to ensure that the people are motivated
and you have to show them a career path.”

Anil Sachdeva, president,
Delhi Computer Traders’ Association
With authorized channels in place, prices for services are set by the vendors
themselves

Taking a cue from Ranjan, Amar of Intel commented that, “The partner as
a priority has to first decide what services one should be in. There are a host
of service offerings that one can get into.” An important aspect of the
entire exercise is to analyze all the available opportunities and innovate in
the right way. One should then identify clearly the competence area that he must
work towards.

He added, “It could be a broad area like networking for instance or a
narrower domain like wireless networking.” Once a focus area has been
established, the next step is to invest in the right skill sets.

Rajesh Bakshi
director, NetLink Business Systems
It is time to tell customers that the days of free services are over and done
with

Whatever the business, white-boxes or services, organizations have to
increasingly adopt a customer-first approach.

The panel came to the conclusion that partners first need to
identify the domain that their organization will address. Then they need to
clearly define a model that will outline the service offerings and help them get
close to the customer. And with that taken care of, the partner organization
will have a lower cost structure to address the issue. This will create a
win-win situation for vendors and partners alike.

MOHIT CHHABRA in New
Delhi   

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