Centralisation provides a niche opportunity

The need for companies to centralise IT operations and standardise computing environments is growing as the pressure to align IT with business processes increases.

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By  Matthew Southwell Published  December 6, 2003

The need for companies to centralise IT operations and standardise computing environments is growing as the pressure to align IT with business processes increases.

Companies want to wring maximum value from their technology centres while generating the sharpest competitive edge possible for business users. While this goal is a lofty one, it is not unachievable.

However, it does cause problems for end user organisations. It is much harder to centralise disparate operations quickly, efficiently and in a manner that delivers the desired result than many think. The trend also raises a number of issues for the channel. If IT operations are being centralised, then surely technology procurement will follow?

After all, does a newly centralised technology department really want each of its disparate parts to bring their own suppliers with them? No, of course not. Instead, centralised IT departments want to consolidate supplier bases, both to increase negotiating power and economies of scale and ease management and support. This means many channel partners are going to miss out, as centralised technology divisions opt for the few suppliers they believe deliver on their technology requirements.

So, what's the solution for the local channel? The obvious answer is to be one of the select band chosen by a centralised IT division to continue serving its needs. If this is achieved then great, there's no need to worry and the partner involved can look forward to an increase in business as it takes its share of the business removed from the hands of others.

However, for those partners facing the cull, there is another way to stay in the game. The secret is to go niche. If a partner provides a product or a service that no one else in the Middle East delivers then it doesn't matter which aspect of a disparate IT department it currently serve. If the offering is something the end user cannot do without, then when IT becomes consolidated business will continue and the money will still roll in.

Furthermore, there may even be an opportunity to expand the business opportunity by offering the same niche to others within the newly centralised department. While this sounds like a wonderful solution, it is not easy to identify a niche.

It may even be a tougher job than centralising and IT department. However, channel partners have to sit and plan and work out what sets them apart from the competition. When they have, they need to refine this skill, product line or whatever it may be. Only by doing this will they remain one of the select few suppliers chosen by centralised IT divisions.

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