With the IT market consolidating and convergence forcing previously disparate areas of technology to come together, resellers are finding that markets they previously dominated are becoming more diluted as new competitors come on board.
As such, many resellers have had to move outside of their traditional comfort zones by generalising their focus and upskilling their technical resources in new areas of expertise.
This trend is driving networking as one of the most sought after new areas of focus, since communications of all kinds are intrinsic in South Africa's vision of transformation and more specifically, are providing the infrastructure needed to support the upcoming 2010 FIFA World Cup.
"The great news is that besides the opportunity that exists in the networking market today, the barriers to entry have been lowered to such an extent that there literally hasn't been a better time to get into this market," says Alan Hawkins, sales manager at Tarsus Technologies.
"With a commitment to becoming an expert in networking and a little capital, literally any reseller can build a sustainable business out of communications today – the opportunities in the SMB space are particularly attractive," he adds.
Hawkins cites the work being done by Tarsus and Cisco in upskilling its partners as a clear example of just how the low barriers to entry are.
"Together with Cisco, Tarsus has developed a fast-track of sorts, focusing primarily on getting the right training to partners as a starting point and then guiding them through the ranks of specialisation, based on where their expertise lies," he continues.
"With this approach, the barriers to entry both from a cost and an expertise perspective are extremely low.
"Today it will cost a partner as little as R2 000 to complete Cisco's certification exam," he says. "And for partners who need assistance with upskilling their technical staff before the examinations are taken, we've developed a programme that takes a reseller's general-expertise technician and converts them into a networking specialist."
Hawkins notes that after this initial qualification has been achieved, resellers can choose to become specialists or remain generally focused. "We are, however, finding that there's a huge demand for SMB-focused resellers on the front of converged communications, and to play in this space, resellers must become specialised.
"Similar to the programme we've put in place to accelerate resellers into the general networking market, we're more than happy to assist interested partners in becoming specialised in converged infrastructure solutions," he adds.
Hawkins is quick to point out that the huge interest in networking solutions for the SMB sector is not temporary, however.
"It's not as if the SMB market will become saturated overnight," he says. "As the major proponent of any economy, the SMB sector is the catalyst for growth of the South African GDP. This means that the volume of SMBs in the local market can only continue to grow.
"With that kind of opportunity looming and communications so high on the agenda of all businesses today, a reseller would be crazy not to begin thinking about making an entry into the networking market, especially considering that they could have the backing of Cisco, the undisputed leader in the sector," he adds.