May 27, 2014

Forget VARs – We’re Going to See VIDs

First off, my apologies to all the net heads in the crowd. I am from a past that is in rapid decline and I expect will not last another 10 years. I refer to the role of the value added reseller (VAR). In the past, VARs were the glue that brought the network into the application and added whatever integration was needed to make the solution work.

The problem is today we are at a point where many of the solutions are now directly from the Web, so the dumb network has been replaced by intelligence in the cloud.

Now, a lot of VARs made their money on supporting hardware. Like BYOD experience with smartphones, the need for integrated services has become something over the top. Except for sales and face to face meetings, more and more of the integration can be sourced to an individual or well-managed team.

Unfortunately, many VARs have been caught in the innovators’ dilemma and have not made the transition. In some cases, they have stayed loyal to a company whose products have not transitioned. In other cases, they have become so enamored with the open source movement they have built their own platform. Now some of these I believe will succeed, but the ones that just replaced legacy do little to help make the transition.

So what replaces the VAR?  My answer is the software developer. Crossfire Consulting, our parent company, continues to receive position openings for Web developers that have experience with Java. In other words, the front end Web development has gained momentum, but showing enough programming skills that the Web can be integrated to the back end systems.

That integration often can be outsourced to specialists, which is the point of this article. The value is in the connecting the dots.  Individuals that understand the nuances of a given platform and have the programming skill can in effect be the integrators of the future.  

In the past, VARs had a strong local presence in order to make the sales efforts happen and to hold the customer’s hand.

Going forward, if the customer’s hand needs to be held, it is going to require a special relationship between.  Candidly some developers will have the skill set to build a company around this, while others will need to have a strong sales lead in front of them.

However, the point is the old model of truck rolls with logo signage is gone, and a new era is coming. How the Value Integrated Developer [VID] puts out a shingle is not exactly clear to me.  For many of the VIDs I know today, it’s primarily word of mouth. In Silicon Valley that may work, but as the industry rolls out to the full market, new approaches will have to be found.



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