Since leaving Compaq Canada in 1996, where he’d been president for 10 years, Don Woodley has witnessed one of the greatest changes – and, to some degree, threats – to the channel in the last two decades.

Dell Computer Inc.’s introduction of the direct sales model has forced resellers to put the “value-add” into their businesses by developing unique applications or selling support services that differentiate them from other players in the market, he said.

After Compaq, Woodley headed Oracle Canada for two years before becoming “semi-retired” and sitting on the boards of a number of companies, including Telus Corp. and, until January, OnX Enterprise Solutions. He recently served as interim president and CEO at Burlington, Ont.-based Gennum Corp.

Woodley feels Compaq’s greatest contribution to the channel came from adding validity and strength through distribution to reach the mid-market. Later it did the same through retail to reach the consumer market.

Looking ahead, Woodley said resellers should focus on supporting Canada’s SMBs, which represent the overwhelming majority of the market here.

“There’s still a market for local support, technology support and application support for corporate accounts,” he said. “There’s probably fewer and fewer channel (partners) that can rely on corporate accounts only.”

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