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Moscow Strategy Forum

by Stuart Wilson, Wednesday 7 July 2010

Channel EMEA Editor Stuart Wilson focuses on the cloud and HR issues in the second part of a commentary series on what happened at the inaugural DISTREE Strategy Forum for the Russia & CIS IT channel.

The DISTREE Strategy Forum series already holds annual events in Monaco for EMEA’s leading distributors and in the UAE for senior executives from the Middle East retail channel. Building on the success of these events, launching the event in Russia was a natural progression The DISTREE Strategy Forum arrived in Russia on Thursday 24th June, taking place alongside the main DISTREE IT Channel Week (DITCW) event, which attracted 650-plus delegates.

As an exclusive invitation-only high-level discussion and networking platform, 40-plus channel VIPs attended the inaugural Strategy Forum for a day of discussion, debate and dialogue on the major issues impacting the growth and development of the Russia & CIS IT channel.

Cloud computing

The concept of cloud computing provoked a lively discussion from DISTREE Strategy Forum delegates during a session moderated by Channel Experts’ Francis Tchertoff, assisted by Luc Brunet, VP at Russian distribution powerhouse OCS. With a mixture of vendors, distributors and channel partners in attendance, all were aware that cloud computing has the potential to reshape channel dynamics in the Russian market.

“There was a general acceptance that cloud computing will happen here in Russia,” said Tchertoff, speaking after the session. “Some distributors have already been active in this area and most channel executives are positive about its impact.”

“The cloud does not mean that business will go away for Russian distributors, but a new type of distribution will be needed,” he added. “Distribution will continue but there will also be a service discussion. Major vendors want to sell services but know that they need distributors to maintain effective relationships with all resellers – it is not something they can or should do themselves.”

The consensus view was that the channel had realised the vital role that distribution plays. This role may well change, but it will not disappear even if major Russian distributors have to evolve in order to survive.

“We were expecting more resistance to the concepts of cloud computing in Russia and the impact on the channel,” explained Tchertoff. “There was no denial that change would have to happen.”

Delegates did not believe that telecom providers would play an active role in the initial growth and development of cloud services in Russia. Many felt that mobile operators remained too focused on selling pre-paid SIM cards and airtime, while other operators were too focused on basic infrastructure, selling lines and voice services to consider moving into these new areas.

Despite the group’s willingness to embrace cloud computing as a concept that would change the channel, there were still some issues that needed to be considered in the Russian market. Many felt that while an opportunity for cloud computing and remote managed services existed, it would not and could not happen until the necessary infrastructure was in place.

Following on from the Strategy Forum, all delegates at DITCW attended a Channel Pulse session where they had the opportunity to vote live on topical issues, including the rise of cloud computing in Russia & CIS. When asked which user group would lead the adoption of cloud computing in the region, 20% reckoned it would be business users, 40% claimed it would be consumers, 27% said it would be both equally and 10% reckoned no-one would use the cloud in meaningful numbers.

Human resources

The inaugural DISTREE Strategy Forum for Russia & CIS also included a session examining topical human resources (HR) issues moderated by Rainer Staniwoga, partner at Russia Consulting based in Moscow. Russia Consulting has offices in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Kiev, Almaty, Hamburg, Paris and soon in Minsk with 150 employees, and is the biggest independent international provider for accounting, taxes and payroll services in the region.

The session on HR reached numerous conclusions including the fact that recruiting and retaining quality employees in the Russian channel was no longer only about remuneration. There was agreement that employees needed alternative forms of motivation as well and must also identify with the company’s wider goals and aspirations.

“Each company needs to demonstrate good values, strong products and a healthy ambience,” explained Stawinoga, speaking after the session. “It is important for employees to have management respect and the possibility to progress their career and earn more.”

Steps that can be taken to improve staff retention include the provision of training programmes. All delegates agreed that competition for talent would increase in the channel because of the decline of the working population in Russia. Companies that understand what this means will focus their efforts on keeping their best employees, not exploiting them.

DITCW

DITCW represents the combination of two events: Digital Consumer Channel (DCC) and Digital Business Channel (DBC). DITCW operates a unique business model based on an ‘invitation only’ event format, offering a compelling mix of pre-scheduled one-on-one meetings, keynotes, awards and networking opportunities for vendors and channel executives operating in the Russia & CIS region. For more information, visit www.distree.com/ru

DITCW took place at Le Meridien Moscow Country Club from June 23-25th 2010. For more information on next year’s event, please contact fsimard@distreevents.com


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