The Exclusive Group Project – how to do what has never been done before

For years, the choice facing vendors was to compromise scale for value, or value for scale. Now they can achieve both – value and scale – together!

With the global IT market being such a dynamic and volatile place, it’s a good time to remind both ourselves and our partners why we opted to hook up together in the first place, what attracted us to each other and what keeps the spark in the relationship!

From the start, the Exclusive Group has been restless and unpredictable; we have not conformed. Indeed, we have been daring and audacious. Vendors have always loved this, but while in some quarters their lust for change and disruption has faded, we still hold true to the principles that brought us together.

We’ve stuck to our principles of valuing entrepreneurialism and relationships over imitation and centralisation. We’ve continued to experiment with new technologies and techniques whilst investigating exciting shifts in the market. And we’ve extended our footprint globally whilst keeping local relevance. Above all – we continue to add value-based services.

VAST vision pays dividends

Our unique business model has brought unprecedented growth and success, both through organic growth and astute acquisitions. We’ve complemented our cybersecurity focus with a bold foray into the rapid growth market of hybrid cloud with our web-scale business –BigTec – and we’ve massively extended our overall services capability.

But our project is far from over. The global technology market is such a fickle mistress that we can take nothing for granted.

But look at the facts and our VAST (value-added services and technologies) model is undoubtedly working. The people who matter seem to like what we do.

To examine the Exclusive Group project in more detail, consider the traditional models of value-added distribution that we disrupt.

The ‘unattainable’ top-right of scale and value

There is a niche for small, specialist national VADs in our industry. Built around a handful of good commercial and technical people with strong local channel relationships, they prosper through the value they create. Vendors like them, to an extent. For all their specialism and local relevance, they lack scale and resources, and the prospect of having to manage them all to achieve major channel rollouts is becoming even less of a turn-on.

By contrast, broadline distributors have plenty of scale and reach. They give the illusion of pressing all the right buttons. They can supply global projects through a single point of contact with comparative ease, and there are few limits to credit and logistics. Their Achilles’ heel is a distinct absence of true value. Vendors grudgingly accept that the broadliner doesn’t go the extra mile for a deal or to find innovative solutions to market problems. They won’t adapt quickly. Being corporately run, rather than by entrepreneurs, the broadliner’s biggest drawback is its lack of local relevance.

For decades, these approaches polarised the distribution market. Vendors chose either to compromise scale for value, or value for scale. More often than not, they would outgrow one for the other once market adoption of its emerging technology had reached its inflection point. Resellers who enjoyed good margins on emerging technologies from local VADs watched them vanish overnight when the broadliners moved in and commoditised the market.

For some of our vendors, the security and predictability of these steady-going, conservative suitors may offer the promise of short-term benefit, but I ask them, “If you still value your technology, if you still aim to disrupt and re-invent yourselves, if you still desire excitement and risk, then why would you align with a partner that is so incompatible?”

By any measure, these are partners that are shrinking, not expanding; that deliver declining or stagnant revenues and profit; that are extracting local value and retreating to so called ‘low-cost economies’!

Is this what they want? Decline, stagnation and the status quo? I sense this is exactly the opposite to what they want. What they really need is our project!

Go global, stay local, add value – this is our project. It’s one that has never been achieved by a VAD before. This is why it is so important to continue reminding people of this; why Exclusive Group and its vendor partners were drawn together in the first place, and why we will continue to succeed in the future…