The channel is in the middle of a "super cycle" of growth from which all resellers should be benefiting, according to Computacenter CEO Mike Norris.
Speaking at CRN's European Channel Leadership Forum, Norris talked delegates through the secrets of Computacenter's longevity, claiming that, despite the advances in technology over his 24-year tenure, not a huge amount has changed in the industry.
"If I look back over the last 35 years, there hasn't been a year where I haven't been told by the industry that we're in the greatest period of change we've ever been in, and that it's going to get bigger next year," he said.
"I am one of the very strange human beings who will tell you that I don't think there has been much change over the last 35 years.
"There have been a few things, but I think customers still want more for less; that's what they wanted 35 years ago."
Norris said that, as a CEO, it is his job to make sure that Computacenter is prepared for any possible game-changing technologies, while not putting all its eggs in one basket.
"When I see other resellers saying 'we're all in with that technology', I usually think ‘they're stuffed'," he said. "When you're a vendor and you go all in, that makes sense to me. When you're a channel partner, I struggle.
"There was an article on the front page of CRN recently about how 5G is going to be a big driver for our business. Maybe it will, maybe it won't.
"But I have two things to worry about. If it is, I have to make sure that Computacenter has a flexible enough playback to get more of its fair share of the market, while making sure that if it doesn't happen I haven't wasted huge sums of our shareholders' money waiting for it to happen. That's my job."
The chief exec said that his aim is to keep Computacenter competitive in an "infinite game", explaining that it is impossible for one business to stay at the very top consistently for a long period of time.
"Finite games like sport are easy. Football is finite. It lasts for 90 minutes and there are a set of rules that people usually stick to," he said.
"In an infinite game no-one ever wins. It never stops and you cannot stay ahead of the pack forever. You can be winning and ahead, and you can be behind, but you never win.
"You can stay in the game, or you can drop out. 2e2 ran out of resources and cash; it dropped out of the game. Kelway was sold for a lot of money; it dropped out of the game. But the game goes on, so long as there are at least two players left."
Norris said that businesses need five qualities if they are to succeed in the infinite game: a purpose; strong leadership; supporting teams; worthy rivals; and a flexible playbook.
"One thing you mustn't have in an infinite game is a target," he said. "'We want to get to £200m'. Well what the f*ck do you do when you get there? I don't believe in long-term targets.
"Short-term targets and pay plans for people, yes, but why set long-term targets? People like to have them, and I even do it sometimes because it makes people feel better, but I don't really care about targets. I just want to get better.
"We have been number one in the revenue list, but it's arbitrary. What does it mean? What's a year? It's a time when accountants draw a line and add up, but life goes on. It doesn't stop in December and start again in January; it's perpetual."
Norris said that the channel has been in a "super cycle" of growth over the last five years, pointing out that it is resellers that have experienced the strongest growth, not the large IT services providers.
"If you look across at Bechtle, Econocom, Computacenter, Atea and Softcat - any of the listed companies you can see - some have done better than others… but collectively they have done well over the last five years," he said.
"If you put £1,000 into a reseller, you'd have done a lot better than if you invested it in Atos, Capgemini and the service companies. Five years ago no-one would have told you to invest it in resellers, not even me.
"So if you haven't done well over the last five years then you need to look at yourself, because you should have done well. The channel is in a fantastic position."
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