Opinion

Is it a broadliner? Is it a VAD? No, it's a SuperVAD!!!

The verdict is in and it appears that VAD could well become a meaningless acronym consigned to the dust bin of channel history. There are probably some of you out there to whom this is no surprise at all because you never quite believed that VAD really stood for anything in the first place, writes Billy MacInnes.

We all know what it's supposed to stand for, Value Added Distribution, but as a term it's tended to be interpreted in widely different ways by different people. One person's VAD might well be another person's broadline distributor with a veneer of expertise spread on the top like a thin layer of marmalade on a slice of mouldy bread.

One person might well classify a VAD as a small, niche operator with recognised accreditations and expertise around a particular product range while another might think value added in this case really means small and insignificant.

Anyway, according to a survey of resellers by Exclusive Networks, as many as 42% believe VAD is a redundant term, which is a Greek election margin higher than the 39% who think it still holds true to part of its meaning.

Exclusive Networks marketing boss Barrie Desmond argued that smaller VADs could suffer because resellers were looking for exceptional market knowledge and technical expertise, the implication being that many smaller VADs might not make the grade.

Apparently, resellers are more attracted by a distributor's technical expertise than any marketing support or credit availability it can offer. I'm slightly puzzled as to why this should represent any change from what they were supposed to be looking for in VADs in the first place (and what VADs reportedly marketed themselves on to prospective reseller partners).

Perhaps the issue is not that the term VAD is no longer relevant but that resellers are becoming more assertive in expecting VADs to deliver a value added distribution experience. In other words, distributors that abuse the term VAD are likely to lose out to those that live up to it.

I'm sceptical that Exclusive Networks' decision to try and overcome the confusion surrounding VAD by classifying itself as a SuperVAD will resonate very strongly out in the channel firmament. After all, if people can't agree what a VAD is, how on earth are they going to do any better when it comes to a SuperVAD? To take one example, what extra powers does a SuperVAD possess that a VAD doesn't? Is it bigger? Stronger? Tougher? Who gets to decide whether a distributor is a SuperVAD or just a mere VAD?

I'm sure there are a lot of VADs out there who think they're super, but will any of them actually want to be a SuperVAD? If they do, will they find themselves dealing with SuperVARs rather than VARs?

Jeez, looks like we'll need superpowers of our own to work this stuff out.

This was first published in June 2012

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