Channel partners need to adopt more flexible procurement models and a heightened awareness of cultural business expectations in different parts of Europe in order to be more successful, according to Getronics' Benelux boss.
Irene Veldstra is a Dutch woman running Getronics' Benelux region from Belgium.
For many outsiders, there may not seem to be much distinction to note there. Not so says Veldstra.
"What some US vendors may be struggling with is something that we have here in Europe that they don't have, which is a set of countries that are as close together as state lines for them.
"They have to understand that we have different cultures, ways of doing business and languages that you have to respect…This is actually important...Trust has to be built."
She added the philosophy of grounding business in each country with local, personal connections is the key to Getronics' success, despite its mammoth size at $1.3bn revenues and 9,000 employees.
"What I like to tell people is that I see that I am running this company here locally as my ultimate integration!"
2019: What's ahead?
When asked what tech trends will be influential in 2019, Veldstra said that firms will need to have an even greater focus on data to stay competitive.
"The trend that is most top of mind is what are we doing to capitalise on all the data that we collect with the services that we have and the systems that we own? How do we turn that into value for our customers and ourselves?
"Then of course innovations in the services that we offer in terms of AI and cloud services that is becoming much more prevalent."
She added that procurement will have to become much more flexible in 2019.
"The way we do services for consumers and businesses is clearly becoming very focused on this… So that's pay-per-use models, pay-as-you-go models, pay for device models.
"Customers no longer want to have fixed prices for services…They want to have full flexibility for them to scale within their digital transformation. Suppliers have to be aware of that."
Computacenter's entry into the Netherlands
Focusing in on the Benelux specifically, I asked Veldstra what she made of the UK's biggest reseller Computacenter entering the market with its 2018 acquisition of Misco's Dutch business
"Of course it's going to change the dynamics…It's a major acquisition so they've put themselves in the market with an expanded scale," she said.
"Everyone will be curious to see how far they realise the synergies… How will they integrate? And that's when we will see how the competitive landscape will change. I'm anticipating that we will have a much larger player of scale in our market."
However, Veldstra was clear that Getronics welcomes the extra competition.
"There is no hostility in the Netherlands from bigger companies entering the market. It's generally seen as a welcome development to have larger players investing in the economic region."
She added that if Computacenter intends to use its Dutch business to bid on European tenders for institutions that are based in the Benelux region such as the European Parliament and NATO HQ, Getronics and Computacenter could find themselves working together.
"The European political institutions creates a very interesting dynamic with other players around you because they have very large public tenders. It means that you often must work together with other firms in conjunction in a consortium," she said.
"If that is their strategy, then we will probably have opportunities to partner in some of those bids."
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