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Not 'getting' the channel

Why is it that very smart, MIT-educated technologists cannot answer a simple question when it comes to the VARs and systems integrators that often implement the products they build?

It never ceases to amaze. Earlier this week, a very smart Oracle technologist was asked what about the new Oracle 11g R2 will particularly please Oracle VARs. His answer was that customers will love the stuff it does to lower the cost of ownership, its new advanced compression technology that helps reduce storage costs etc., etc. 

The fact that this guy could not talk about how a VAR could parlay those technology strengths to satisfy a customer need is almost stupefying.

Say what you will about Microsoft–and I myself have written some very negative things about it– but Microsoft execs–both on the marketing and the technology side–are able to turn on a dime and talk about the VAR benefits of an upcoming product.

This is not rocket science, it’s a tacit admission that for many IT vendors the VAR community is the first line of communication to customers and that VARs themselves constitute a large subset of users.They USE the technology they sell.  But what VARs really want to know is how they can make money and serve customers with the new features and functions of products.

I can think of one exception to the Microsoft-execs-know-the-channel rule:  A few years back the company brought in a big wig from Adobe Systems. Faced with a  panel of reporters covering channel concerns, he quickly showed he had no idea what the channel was. Some of the other Microsoft execs present were visibly steaming. Not sure how much that damaged him in front of the other Microsoft execs present, but he was gone within months.

Now everyone knows Oracle has had its issues with the channel, but one thing it could do to remedy the situation, is make its own executives aware that there is a channel out there and what it does.


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Does your organization have a formal technology roadmap?
I'm the first CIO for a small non-profit group of medical clinics - Hired to develop strategy and roadmaps.
We are in the process of creating one.
I haven't seen any Agile shop that would bother with that. Large companies typically do; the staff is typically unaware of it.
My "pet peeve" about technology road maps is that they are often out of touch with the industry advancements. It's not for the company, really, to decide when they start supporting mobile or new browsers. That's what customers decide nowadays.