Change was the message at the recent PCA conference, held in Warrington last month.
Among the most eagerly anticipated speeches was Dell's, with UK channel director Andy Dow explaining the vendor's plans for resellers and VARs. Dow moved to address many of the concerns that had been worrying resellers and VARs about exactly how the relationship between Dell and themselves would work, stressing that the channel was no longer viewed by Dell as "a bit on the side."
"At the corporate and Government level, we find it easy to maintain and develop relationships," he explained. "Areas where we can't say the same are in the SME and enterprise markets. We can provide the box product, but in order to provide a level of value added service, we need your help." Dow went on to say that the key for Dell wasn't finding box shifters, but firms that can add value to its products.
"It's important to us, as we know it is for you, that there are margins," he said. "That's why out discounts won't be determined by the volume that a partner purchases; rather the value of the 'wrap' that they place around our products, such as after-sales care and SaaS, will determine the price they pay.
"Dell is committed to solid fixed trade pricing. If Dell wanted to sell at cost could you compete with them? The answer is yes." Dow continued: "We are looking for a finite set of partners; around 60, to become partners."
On the subject of distributors, Dow was keen to stress that Dell was interested in maintaining a direct relationship with partners. "It's not that we've said we won't ever deal with disties. It's just they need to add value to our propositions in some way. You have to bear in mind, we have our own credit facilities, and we have the systems in place to bring value directly to you."
Allaying fears that some attendees had, Dow warned that any attempt by partners to use the discounts to become sub-disties, would see that company be stripped of its partner status if found to be doing so.
"This isn't a move by Dell to attract box shifters. We already do that ourselves via Dell.com and our telesales teams. This move is all about finding partners that can help us add value to our products so that the end customer benefits," enthused Dow.
"For a while now, people have been asking us, 'the channel is adding value that you aren't – can I buy a Dell from them?' Well the answer is now yes."
FixITlocal took the opportunity to address recent criticism from some quarters of the press that the initiative was failing to drive the traffic some members had been expecting. "We're working hard to promote the scheme to SMEs and prosumers," said DMSL's John Carter, clarifying exactly who FixITlocal is aimed at.
"The point we're working to at first is one where every member receives at least one call per day. We're well on the way; at least one of our members is receiving five to six calls a day."
Speaking about the conference, PCA CEO, Keith Warburton (pictured) said: "Another superbly successful event for the association. By choosing a PCA conference to reveal the detail of its channel plans, Dell joins illustrious company such as Intel and Microsoft who have also given our members first views of their new products and channel promotions.
"The audience viewed Dell's offering in a positive light, as they did the presentations and announcements from the other key players who were there."
Commenting on why he thought events like the conference were important, Warburton added: "Because we operate on the basis that we, as a trade association, are not beholding to any one member or player. Our events are always dynamic and egalitarian, with lots of audience involvement, and frankly this was one of the best that we've done."