An interesting little item passed my desk during the preparation for this issue. Siebel Systems, a pure direct play, is now interested in developing CRM software for the mid-market and is starting to develop a channel base for this area.
Siebel has never really been interested in the channel
before. I still remember a briefing I attend years ago where the CEO of Ceridian, a payroll management company, stood up and said how wonderful Siebel was because they dealt directly with customers and not with pesky, annoying resellers.
Back then Siebel was only too happy to accommodate customer’s direct wishes.
Now has Siebel seen the light or are they merely looking to grow revenue and have figured out its direct business model simply doesn’t work for the mid-market or for that matter in Canada. I tend to choose the latter. Siebel, like others, are in the business of making money. Will its revamped CRM package for the mid-market work and satisfy customer needs? Probably. Will it be an opportunity for resellers here in Canada? I think so, but what VARs have to look at is who they want to take to the dance. Channel friendly vendors such as Accpac International or Microsoft Canada or Siebel? Accpac has always used the channel and have gone through five versions of its mid-market CRM package. More than 95 per cent of Microsoft’s worldwide revenue goes through the channel. Microsoft released its own CRM package this year. And then there is Siebel, who has snubbed the channel and only now wants to dance.
The channel in Canada can thank small to medium sized businesses for the entire fanfare. Every IT vendor and their sister it seems has developed an SMB strategy. This is not news, but the fact that previously direct-only firms are now interested in dealing with the channel is news.
I have to commend companies such as Dell, yes Dell and companies such as SAS Institute. They have stuck to their direct guns. However, they have done it in a hybrid sort of way. Dell, has in the past contacted VARs to help them in its quest to penetrate the middle market in Canada. Thankfully, VARs have told Dell to take a hike. VARs still do a majority of the break/fix repair work for Dell in Canada. SAS Institute works with VARs, but does not give them any money for reselling its products. The VARs who I have spoken to about this, in the past, really don’t mind because the margin off the product itself is not exactly where the money is. Also, SAS products work in an end-to-end solution the VAR has created for its client. So really the credit goes to the VAR who decided to forgo the dough and think about what was the best fit for the client.
So for those direct vendors who want the channel now I wish them luck. It will be a tough road to cross. VARs have a long memory.