The In­ter­net Pho­bia

DQ Channels - - Channel Pulse - RA­JNEESH DE/ ra­[email protected]­ber­me­

No words of praise would be enough to laud the re­silience of the In­dian IT chan­nel com­mu­nity. The gen­eral mar­ket slow­down, neg­a­tive cash flows, credit crunches, sti­fling tax and duty regimes, ven­dors chang­ing dis­tri­bu­tion poli­cies overnight—noth­ing seem to faze them for long. One or more of th­ese would put them at dis­com­fi­ture for some time, but be rest as­sured they will find some way or mech­a­nism to not just wrig­gle out of the sit­u­a­tion but even carry on their busi­nesses nor­mally.

How­ever, the same can­not be said about the chan­nel com­mu­nity's re­cep­tive­ness to new things, ei­ther tech­nol­ogy or strat­egy-wise. In fact, there is a def­i­nite aver­sion to­wards adop­tion of any new form of tech­nol­ogy, es­pe­cially if it has to do with how they con­duct their business. Quite an irony, con­sid­er­ing that they be­ing in the business of tech­nol­ogy are not keen to use it. Noth­ing il­lus­trates this bet­ter than the chan­nel com­mu­nity's gen­eral an­tipa­thy till now to­wards us­ing the on­line medium ac­tively to con­duct their busi­nesses.

Not too many part­ners have till now con­ducted any se­ri­ous amount of business on­line, nei­ther have they used their web­sites to un­der­take any con­certed mar­ket­ing ex­er­cise till date. In fact, many of them have them per­func­tory web­sites, which for­get be­ing equipped to han­dle on­line trans­ac­tions (ecom­merce), do not even have ba­sic in­for­ma­tion up­loaded reg­u­larly. They have been quite brazen about it till now—and the pre­text is sim­ple, there is not enough business gen­er­ated on­line, so it does not make business sense for them to fo­cus en­er­gies on on­line as a medium.

Even the var­i­ous chan­nel as­so­ci­a­tions do not fare much bet­ter on the on­line stakes. Con­sid­er­ing that the pri­mary role of th­ese as­so­ci­a­tions is to take up the cases of their mem­ber part­ners and of­ten ne­go­ti­ate on their griev­ances against the ven­dors, it's quite sur­pris­ing that even they have re­sisted us­ing the In­ter­net op­ti­mally till now.

For­get go­ing on­line, the chan­nel part­ners and as­so­ci­a­tions are more keen on com­plain­ing about on­line busi­nesses and that they are can­ni­bal­iz­ing the tra­di­tional chan­nel. This is ei­ther be­ing too naive or not at all read­ing the writ­ing on the wall. On­line is here to stay and dom­i­nate, thanks to mar­ket eco­nomics; tem­po­rary at­tempts to stall them with tech­ni­cal­i­ties might work in the small run, but the ul­ti­mate re­sult is ev­i­dent.

To be fair, there might be def­i­nitely some gen­uine rea­sons for this on­line an­tipa­thy. In many cases, the small chan­nel play­ers do not even have man­power with the req­ui­site skillsets to han­dle or man­age web­sites or con­duct trans­ac­tions through them. In many cases, par­tic­u­larly in the up­coun­try mar­kets, there are of­ten se­vere con­nec­tiv­ity and band­width pres­sure; last but not the least, it's the non-avail­abil­ity of lo­cal lan­guage in­ter­face on­line that acts as a hin­drance. You would ex­pect a part­ner from Mehsana or Tirunelveli to be com­fort­able deal­ing only in Gu­jarati or Tamil re­spec­tively. Till that hap­pens, the wide­spread us­age of on­line by the en­tire chan­nel com­mu­nity will re­main a chimera only. The ven­dors and the NDs and RDs do have a ma­jor role to play to help in the on­line tran­si­tion.

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