Monday, July 14, 2008

Foundations: Not for Sale in Australia?

Up until now I've been sourcing Foundations licences directly from the US since the distribution arm for Foundations in Australia was still getting itself organised. I now have another sale of ten Lotus Foundations licences so I decided to do the right thing and sign up as a reseller with the two organisations distributing Lotus software in Australia, ITX and Express Data.

Unfortunately I don't qualify as a reseller for either of them.
  • ITX insist up front that resellers have a website and don't use a Hotmail account as their email address.
  • Express Data aren't as blatant but I'm still waiting for a call back from their account approver who (I was told by the person who answered the phone there) has a problem since my email address is with Hotmail.

Reality check Number One:
Websites aren't essential for software consultants. Sure, some of us build those websites for a living and some of us use them as a vehicle for self-expression but our business is not based on sitting back and waiting for the world to google a path to our door. I've just mentally listed four colleagues who work as consultants with Lotus software and are quite capable (and willing) to sell Lotus Foundations but none of whom have their own web site simply because it isn't required for their business model.

OK, I now have a website - www.bcd.net.au - All it does is tell you how to contact me via phone or email and you had that information on my application form anyway. If my website is down it means I'm tinkering with my server trying out a few new configuration settings and normal services should be resumed in a day or two.

Reality check Number Two:
There's a new game in town called 'Software-As-A-Service'. It means that you don't run your own infrastructure if you can find someone who can do it for you at a better price. Hotmail and Gmail have a pretty good price right now for someone who only needs a couple of email addresses as contact points, and if it wasn't for Hotmail I'd have been without email for two weeks while I waited for my new server to arrive.

Reality check Number Three:
IBM already has a mechanism for checking out the bona fides of software resellers. Binary Concepts has paid the fees, passed the exams (technical and sales) and jumped through the required hoops for IBM and is an Authorised IBM Business Partner for the Lotus brand. I'd suggest those are more stringent and appropriate criteria than the identity of my email provider.


I appreciate the point that distributors need to protect themselves against scammers who sign up as a software dealer so they can supply their real business with discount software, but looking for web sites and email addresses is not the way to do it. Foundations is software targetted at small business and those kind of organisations normally uses smaller IT organisations (or even one-man bands) to support them. If those small IT organisations can't source licences for Foundations then that's another sale lost for IBM.

OK... time to send an email back to Lotus in the US and see if they can do me a better deal than the local suppliers. I've got a new purchase order for ten licences of Lotus Foundations and I want to spend my time installing that software for my customer rather than dicking around with application forms.
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3 comments:

Gavin Bollard said...

Personally I fail to see the importance of Web sites over blogs nowadays. Blogs are much easier to maintain and ultimately seem to provide more up-to-date and useful information. Insisting on a web site is a bit like insisting on having a newspaper advert. If I were you, I'd redirect http://www.bcd.net.au to http://lotusfoundations.blogspot.com. The salespeople aren't likely to be able to tell the difference and you should be able to do that with a simple DNS change.

As far as hotmail is concerned, I'd agree with that bias... Nobody wants to deal with someone who could disappear overnight and a Lotus person doing business using Hotmail... yuck... it it's going to be a free public mail service - at least have some class and use Gmail. :-)

Graham Dodge said...

I completely agree with IBM and distributors taking precautions to ensure that their products are only resold by qualified people. My point is that the qualification to sell product should not be based on the existance of an email address and website which cost under a hundred dollars to set up and provides no proof of the bona fides of the reseller.

I did consider repointing my Domain name to my blog but I'd rather see the problem fixed so we can encourage more of the smaller IT businesses to hop on the Foundations bandwagon. IBM needs the support of the independant IT consultants to get Foundations taking off in Australia like it is taking off in the US.

I'm not religious about Hotmail vs. Gmail vs. YahooMail vs. whatever, however all of these services have been around for a while now so I don't think any of them will disappear overnight. OTOH, an IT consultant who pumps all of his time and money into maintaining his flashy website might find himself out of business quite quickly.

Glenn Irvine said...

Hi Graham...

Saw this post on PlanetLotus.org, and thought it might be worth my introducing you to our Licensing Manager (Miriam Redding). I'm sure she might be able to assist you with this issue.