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Gartner opinion: “You need to fire your reseller”

26 Sep 2016

This direct quote originates from a software reseller roundtable at our Dallas ITFPAM Summit on Tuesday. Whilst we at Gartner may use some dramatic terms, clients are often somewhat more dramatic in their assessments – albeit for good reason.

Context of this comment was the importance of software resellers providing advice and guidance. One attending client having only captured that Microsoft shifts Windows Server licensing models from per processor to per core with the imminent release of Windows Server 2016, in our Microsoft licensing clinic the previous day. Other clients in attendance reacted to the scenario, as quoted in the title of this post!

The lead time available to understand impacts of a licensing change in advance of it coming into effect will vary from one software publisher to another. Indeed advance notice and clarity of communications may fluctuate depending on how much ‘air’ the publisher wishes to give each change.

A key role of software resellers exists in landing understanding of licensing changes. Acting as the direct link with clients, effectively cascading information from their software publisher partners (who often lack direct touch / relationships with clients).

One might argue the more opaque the software publishers’ change the greater the role of the software reseller is in bringing that change to light, highlighting the facts, context and impact for each client. For instance price list changes that lack any public disclosure from the software publisher.

In our recently published Market Guide for Software Resellers we address the importance of advice and guidance specific to licensing being retained, despite the shift of focus to cloud services adoption.

However, in cases we come across even well disclosed changes such as that which applies to Windows Server not being captured until the last minute, or indeed until it is too late to act upon.

The concept of being a trusted advisor is quite cliché (and patronising to some) in IT Services sales and marketing pitches as  service providers seek to demonstrate value, compete and differentiate. Yet in cases, despite 10 months of information being available as was the case here, communication does not reach the required target.

So herein lies an essential consideration which applies to any effective working relationship – establishing how we as two or more parties within that relationship, will communicate with one another.

That is also to say that published information alone will likely fall short of reaching its mark. A cadence of licensing advisor updates or business reviews should be established at the outset of the reseller relationship, and performance monitored against those requirements. If expectations aren’t met, yes you should look elsewhere, and potentially ‘fire’ your incumbent.

Article by Steven White, Gartner research director.

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