The business of selling IT products in the country followed fairly simple
rules. You had a clear set of vendors, an identified distributor and reseller
network and more or less clear discounting practices. Every body was comfortable
in their respective comfort zones. But all that is changing, and sometimes
I am able to discern five major changes that are taking place in the horizon
that can have a major impact on the way tech business is done in the country.
To start with, we are in for shorter buyer-seller relation-ships. Gone are
the days when a vendor, once he sets his foot inside the custo-mer's doors is
home for good. With a plethora of choices available, both the seller and the
buyer are keen to scout for fresher pastures, to try out new stuff and above all
to keep their options open.
Partly as a response to this trend, some, if not all, vendors are trying to
move away from a buy-sell positioning to a service levera-ged one. While this
has been around and talked about for some time now, I am beginning to see
acceleration in the pace of its adoption. The increase in the user's
propensity to outsource IT infrastructure-related work is only driving this
further, with the bigger vendors taking on the role of infrastructure service
providers and not just hardware, software or solution vendors. For every big
deal that gets talked about, there are many more that are happening every day.
Along with shorter buyer-seller relationships, buyers are also getting more
aggressive in driving the best pricing deals, and they are using technology to
the fullest in driving better bargain. Inter-net-based reverse auctions is a new
trend that is catching up in this area. Briefly, vendors are invited to bid over
the Net for equipment purchases. The bidding window is kept open for a
predetermined period of time. The vendor with the lowest quote gets the order.
Like with reverse auctions, more and more applications are moving on to
hosted environments, partly so that geographically spread out offices can access
the same application. One of the benefits that the buyer gets is the need for
lesser number of licenses and lesser hardware to run the applications on. The
more-or-less abundant availability of bandwidth is only helping accelerate the
move towers hosted applications. Such hosting is happening not only at the
third-party data centers, but also on servers owned by the user organization,
hosted at the end of fat pipes.
For a long time, IT purchase decisions were the exclusive domain of the IT
departments within user organizations. To that extend, sellers knew whom to talk
to, and what to talk about. But not any longer. Line managers are fast getting
tech savvy and are increasingly becoming key and know-ledgeable decision makers
in IT purchases, with the IT departments playing suppor-ting roles. The problem
for the vendor is that they talk comp-letely different languages. They talk the
language of plastics or medicine or oil or the stock markets and not that of IT.
The prospective vendor has not only got to understand those businesses, but also
talk those very same languages.
Users and vendors who understand these changes in the landscape and are able
to leverage or ride on them stand to benefit as the next cycle of IT purchases
(The author is Editor of PC Quest)