VARSIG, a UK Computing Services Association special interest group that looks after the interests of value-added resellers, has launched a charter which suggests a set of guidelines for vendors and resellers to follow in order to improve relations between the two camps. Terry Forsey, new chairman of the VARSIG consortium, launching the charter at Comdef […]
VARSIG, a UK Computing Services Association special interest group that looks after the interests of value-added resellers, has launched a charter which suggests a set of guidelines for vendors and resellers to follow in order to improve relations between the two camps. Terry Forsey, new chairman of the VARSIG consortium, launching the charter at Comdef ’92, the reseller forum on board the Canberra last weekend, said the new charter should be seen as a very positive step in trying to rebuild vendor-VAR relationships, which in many cases are far from satisfactory. Many of the grievances that resellers seem to have relate to the vendor’s perception of the VAR: during the Comdef weekend, comments abounded to the effect that resellers are not being treated as serious partners, or even as customers. Account management emerged as a recurring source of disappointment – in many cases there is no single person assigned to the reseller’s account, and when there is, it is often a relatively junior member of staff. Disgruntled resellers feel they are being seen as merely a cheap means of shifting boxes, rather than a valuable partner that can add value to a vendor’s products and take them into new markets. Now resellers are demanding a better level of support, access to suppliers’ demonstration equipment and facilities and more insight into their long-term product strategies. The VARSIG charter is an attempt to establish a set of standards to which both parties should adhere – the idea is not so much that a small reseller approaches the likes of IBM Corp with an ultimatum, but rather that vendors are invited to VARSIG meetings to discuss the issues raised by the charter. In base form, it is an awareness campaign. Forsey does not want VARSIG to be perceived as a group of whingeing resellers, rather he sees it as a forum for grievances to be aired and discussed, to result in more effort being made on both sides. VARSIG, which currently has some 50 members, has been in existence for about a year. Computer Services Association directors Doug Eyeions and Tom McCafferty took the idea from an equivalent organisation in the US, which had drawn up a vendor-reseller charter. Interest in drawing up a similar charter in the UK turned out to be plentiful, and so VARSIG came into being. Neilson Kite, deputy chairman of the consortium and director of a company called Minerva Group Plc which sells bundled IBM and Data General Corp Unix systems and Dell Computer Corp personal computers into the charities market, says his own participation in the group came about not through his having a particular personal grievance, but rather through a recognition that the roles of the various distribution channels are currently undergoing change. With open systems, for example, products are becoming harder to differentiate and vendors are losing their claim on customer sites – it is the value-added reseller that can make that product differentiation, with application-specific and bespoke software and customisable services. Thus, says Kite, the reseller should be entitled to own customer sites, and by banding together in an organisation such as VARSIG, are in a better position to do so.