Talking of the north-east, Guwahati is definitely the big boss of the region from all perspectives; be it commerce, connectivity, offices, economy, population or related parameters (except education where Mizoram ranks first) and thus channels is no exception.
With a population of 60 lakh, Assam has a well-structured channels hierarchy in place ranging right from the tier 1 to tier 4. Distribution and sub-distribution business, so far comprises of the major revenue spinners in the region as Guwahati caters to 5 of the 7 north-eastern states. The strategic location of the state' capital places Assam atop the list as the entire connectivity to north-east India depends on the functioning of Guwahati.
National distributors operate from the region at ease and 5 major houses have their own warehouse in the city. The total channels strength in Assam comprises of nearly 400 of which about half of the number has a mix of business with automation, light electrical, stationery and consumer electronics. The only city in the state where IT doesn't feature as a sub-strata is Guwahati which houses 94 channel partners. In the entire channel eco-system in Assam, only 18 firms majorly control the IT channels market and fluctuations within these company market-shares leads to turmoil and imbalances in the market.
Although the state is the stronghold for distribution, solutions business too has become important generating Rs. 68 crores of annual business. Majorly the solution segments becoming important are network integration, LAN connectivity solutions, web hosting and integrated external security. Advanced concepts and other revenue spinners are still at a nascent stage in the state.
Distribution and retail business, on the other hand accounts for Rs. 357 crores annually. On the aggregate, channel strength of all the other 6 states combined wouldn't even come near to that of Assam.
In terms of verticals, retail and distribution (combined) takes up the majority of the slot followed by the state government and SMB projects. Revenues, however, often overlap between retail and distribution as each of the regional and sub-distributors have their own retail outlet. Also, the corporate segment has evolved into a revenue generator in the region but supplies and contracts to these firms are limited to just 5 channel companies only.
"Although the market is distribution driven, retail takes up a majority of the revenue earnings. A distribution line ensures growth and retail ensures a good profit", said Kishore Agarwal of Infotech Solutions.
The boon for solution partners as well as distributors, however, is state contracts from Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh where Guwahati firms enjoy a near monopolistic situation. However, in their own state, channel partners are not able to fully leverage the government projects.