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Distributors become enablers, not just product providers, says new Nuvias MD

The channel and distribution face a period of major change if it is to adapt to market forces and the evolving requirements of customers. IT Europa met up with Executive Chairman, Paul Eccleston and newly appointed Managing Director, Simon England to find out more about their development plans.

According to Simon England “there's major change coming to the channel which has to do with more than just different consumption models, it has to do with the requirement to sell or a requirement to create budgets, versus just responding to budgets, a challenge that not every channel partner can easily do.” What he thinks is required is a move towards a solution and services-defined distribution model. This he believes will require “changing engagement on the vendor side, changing engagement on the partner side and a distributor who is willing to step up to that change.”

For Paul Eccleston “it is about building a business that helps our partners solve their customers’ problems with the technology of our vendor partners – and how do we help them to enable that to happen? And that's how the role of distribution is going to continue to morph itself. We need to be the enabler of the solution rather than the provider of components of the solution.”

Simon England believes that Nuvias’ heartlands are key battlegrounds that are ripe for this transformation in approach: “advanced networking and cyber-security are the two key areas in terms of technology focus for this new solution. The third is unified communications.”

Over time he believes these changes will be more far-reaching: “I think we're going to see the as-a-service consumption moving to the whole of the industry. It's something impacting some areas more than in others, but I see it as happening everywhere. I don't think it will take away from the product side, but I think it will be a big chunk of the business,” he says.

This move towards a consumption-based sales model requires a fundamentally different approach focused on customer success and satisfaction and that in turn will require a change in focus within distribution: “We have to be offering partners help to understand how they need to sell differently and let them know how we can support them in going about that change. I think it's looking towards that role of a channel enabler, a channel engagement partner, for solutions and services requirements. Right now, I think that is the biggest potential value and opportunity that a distributor could provide to the channel, but it steps us into more of a services partner role and it challenges all other distributors in a similar way. Just providing kit alone doesn't actually solve the problem.”

With regard to the impact of new technologies Simon England sees lots of potential in such areas as the development of artificial intelligence and IoT but is not sure if the conditions required for rapid growth yet exist. “Every case is still a unique customized case. Every case is really an integrated unique affair. But we do have, especially on the on the security side, vendors who are keenly interested in getting entry into the IoT products that are out there because IoT without security won't work. With more connected devices the threat surface is just exponentially increasing. Lots of the security vendors will be addressing AI as a qualification for their offering but it is also as a danger. And likewise, IOT and the need to make IoT secure is an opportunity and also a danger.”