Fair play

Last week Oracle unveiled to partners its new rules of engagement—the contractual agreement that sets out where and how Oracle will deal with customers directly, and where business will be done with the channel.

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By  Mark Sutton Published  January 19, 2002

Last week Oracle unveiled to partners its new rules of engagement—the contractual agreement that sets out where and how Oracle will deal with customers directly, and where business will be done with the channel.

The program is far from unique—most of the big vendors have similar rules, and to US partners they are regarded as essential in ensuring that all parties know where they stand.

In the Middle East of course, no such rules exist. This has not been a big problem for a long time. All the while vendors had a skeleton crew in the region, they had to rely on partners. There are some lucrative contracts, notably oil companies and government that have been serviced directly, and there have also been some complaints from partners that they would like to share this business.

On the whole though, vendors have not had the presence, and the channel has not always had the expertise meaning that both parties have had to rely on each other. But is it time to have more formal rules in place for the Middle East?

The market is slowly approaching a more developed channel. The vendors are here, in force, and with services arms that are looking to take more of the market. Vendors are also under more and more pressure to perform in terms of margins, and if those service arms are going to be able to justify their existence, they need to take more and more project business.

Partners are also being asked to invest even more in their own skills base. But what guarantee do partners have that their vendors will still share the business? Or that vendors won’t then try and hire the skilled staff that the partner has invested in—something that has always been a problem in the Middle East?

While not all aspects of the vendor/partner relationship are able to be governed by a legal agreement, there are plenty of existing models that vendors can use. We may be a way off a truly developed channel here, but it is better to have the agreements in place before conflict arises, rather than for them to be put in place once the damage has been done.

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