Building Long Term Partnerships

Having co-founded distributor Pragma in the middle of last year Will Morey has joined a handful of channel start-ups that sees huge opportunity in the current market. Comms Business caught up with Will Morey to ask him what he has been up to in his hiatus from the UK comms channel and what pulled him back to start-up life again in a tough economic environment.

By Will Morey

Since leaving Westcon in 2008 I have spent some time in South East Asia, Australia, Japan, the US and Central America and worked with a number of start up businesses. On returning to the UK I established a consultancy practice working with clients like UK Trade and Investment and Channel 4.

With UK Trade and Investment I worked with British consulate teams across the world and supported technology start ups and high growth organisations investing in the UK and establish or grow their European business. It was a great chance to work with tech companies from Silicon Valley, New York, Australia, Japan and across the world and to be involved in shaping policy and improving government relations with business. However working with a technology start up is not as rewarding as working in a tech start up so I jumped at the chance to work with Tim and David again.

The UK technology market is at an incredibly exciting point. Technology is starting to have huge impacts on every aspect of our lives. We are at a tipping point where really disruptive technology becomes an increasingly normal part of our lives, from self-driving cars, 3D printers that can print human muscle and big data technologies that can predict where crime is going to happen before it happens. Those are mind-blowing technologies that already exist. I am not saying we are going to see these entering the UK channel any time soon but I am saying technology is more powerful and more pervasive than ever before and the opportunity for technology to support every facet of our business life as well as our home lives is phenomenal. All of this means even greater growth opportunity for the UK technology channel.

To take a simple example that we are all familiar with, technologies like unified communications are starting to make a real and meaningful impact on how we do business. There seems to be an increasing cross-over between unified communications and social collaboration technologies. Unified Communications offering a technology led solution and social collaboration taking a people led approach. Both approaches are seeking to improve company communication, support knowledge sharing and innovation and bring remote workers and other stakeholders closer together. They are just two approaches to the same problem and I think we will see these technologies being better integrated and crossing over to really solve people’s needs in the workplace. As businesses adopt UC technologies it accelerates innovation and helps businesses grow faster and deliver better products and services to their customers. It is the consistent use of these technologies that will help bring about the innovations that are going to continue the disruption we see around us.

With all of this new technology you may be asking, why distribution? At Pragma we have a strong belief that even as the technology landscape shifts the reseller will remain a central component of how small and medium sized businesses will adopt and procure new technologies. Once you understand that our business model becomes very simple. By recruiting great technology resellers and providing them with great support, great technology and the margin to build their business the growth opportunity is massive. At Pragma we place huge emphasis on the importance of relationships and being open and honest with our customers. We seek resellers who understand what it takes to make a partnership work and who see working with Pragma as a long-term opportunity based on mutual success.

Since launch, about five months ago, we have recruited over 50 resellers, many through recommendation, word of mouth or historic relationships. These resellers have seen confusing channel strategies from major vendors and distributors and seen their businesses suffer as resource is withdrawn, web only models are deployed and vendor taxes (support charge for this, license for that and accreditation cost overkill) are applied to shore up poor corporate performance. Resellers are struggling with a challenging market, changes in technology and skills gaps in key areas. We feel the reseller needs more support, more margin opportunity and stronger relationships, not just a partner portal login and a premium rate number for support.

Timing wise, starting Pragma has been really good with a number of dynamics converging to create a huge opportunity for us, Ericsson-LG and our resellers. In the last few months we have seen credit being increasingly available to small and medium sized businesses with lease providers starting to help drive market growth. We have also seen Ericsson-LG release some fantastic new technology and competing vendors flip flop on their channel strategy, increasingly withdrawing support and losing focus.

In the long term we see a bright future for the channel and we intend to leverage new technologies and platforms to help us, and our resellers grow.