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Prosper in tough times

I promise, this won’t be another “2009 is going to be full of doom and gloom” post! You don’t need to be told the obvious; you’re living it right now. What you need to know is what you can do to come through the economic downturn better than ever. My next round of blog posts will focus on what you should be doing to not only survive, but to prosper and grow in 2009.

First, know thyself. As an integrator, you have plenty of partnerships, and while you need to be constantly reviewing these, you should be paying closer attention to them. What do you really want from a partner? Do you simply want a great product that allows you to add value and grow profits? Do you also want marketing and/or technical support? Do you want to represent a well-known market leader (and thereby tolerate overdistribution and conflict)? Or, do you want a lesser-known partner that requires more sales work but has less competition?

That’s a ton of questions. The answers depend on who you are now and who you want to be as an integrator in the coming years. Are you focused only on services, or do you want to sell a mix of products and services? Or do you just want to sell a bunch of products and let someone else deal with the technical headaches?

And, don’t try to be something you are not. For example, if you can turn product at razor-thin margins and have a respectable bottom line, do that! For some reason, there is a constant disrespect for organizations that know how to do this — and much of the lack of respect comes from within the organization itself. Someone gets the idea that they need to start adding value, profits sink and eventually so does the company.

Next up: Now that you know who you are or want to be, let’s focus in on your suppliers, what you want out of them and what to look for to determine whether they’re going to survive the storm.

George Crump is president and founder of Storage Switzerland, an IT analyst firm focused on the storage and virtualization segments. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland, he was CTO at one of the nation’s largest storage integrators.

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Interesting comment, and sage advice. The natural tendancy in a challenging market is for a VAR/ISV/SI to offer to do anything for a buck. Sticking to your core model is important. Also, leveraging your partners & vendors is essential too. In many cases, they are in the same boat as everyone else, so they are willing to go the extra mile to make sure you are successful. They win only if you win. Check out this podcast for one vendor's view on this: