In the initial days of my starting work in Cybermedia, I was sometimes amazed
at how much lack of communication there was between the vendors and the channel
partners. At one after the other IT Panchayat or in a meeting with any channel
partner I would only hear complaints about the treatment that was being meted
out by certain vendors to the channel partners.
Then after a while the din subsided and there was a scenario in which truce
was called between both. However, the daggers are out in full force these days.
Blame it on the market scenario or the current economic situation; things are
going from bad to worse across the country.
Most complaints are directed at three biggest vendors in the country and
hardware and software giants whose policies are not considered very partner
I, personally, know of so many complaints against these vendors. Only last
week a partner was telling me about a partner in Jaipur who has almost Rs 14
lakh payments pending with one of these three. A similar instance was reported
in Bhubaneswar where while the amount was Rs 2 lakhs it has been pending for
more than a year and a half.
Now these are not big amounts for a vendor who is the world leader, but for
the partner concerned it makes a huge difference to his bottomline especially
when the times are bad. Also news has emerged in North India where the same
vendor is said to have formed a cartel and imposed working rules on the channel
The other instance is how this software major is clearly indulging in what
partners think is arm-twisting. While partners in South India have raised a hue
and cry about the whole issue, there are others who are speaking about it also
but in hushed tones. Then there is this one partner who, in a typical David
versus Goliath situation, has done what would have been unthinkable in normal
circumstances, taken a vendor to court. The owner of the company alleges that
the software vendor has been filing false cases against partners who do not fall
in line; the vendor on the other hand claims that it is protecting its IPR.
While it is left to the court to decide which way this battle goes, what will
be interesting to note is how long the partner is able to sustain the might of
the vendor which has at its disposal a team of lawyers and unlimited resources.
But what really amazes me is that this is a one-off case. Ideally speaking
there should have been a barrage of cases, and public hue and cry about it, but
is it there? Actually no, most partners are unwilling to even discuss their
problems. If they do, mostly it is off the record for fear of repercussions. And
what is more astounding is that they still keep on doing business with the
vendor on the terms and conditions that are laid by the latter.
So why is it that while some will come out in the open and discuss their
issues, others will not-lack of unity, a support system that will back you up
are the two things that come to mind. So it brings me back to what I have been
saying in the column and even offline to many association presidents and even
influential channel partners-unite. If you want to tide over the hard times,
unity is what will take you place, and make you stay afloat.
(Write in your comments to me at email@example.com).