Columbus Technologies, South Africa's leading local developer and marketer of systems management software, is expanding its channel presence in a drive to increase its footprint in the private sector market. The company's channel-driven market strategy has seen it post sterling growth in the public sector over the past two years, growth it now plans to duplicate in the private sector.
Columbus's desktop and asset management technologies have become well entrenched in the public sector due to the efforts of its five channel partners: Telkom, GijimaAST, XON, Eclipse and SourceCom. Over the past year, Columbus has seen its products rolled out in the Department of Minerals and Energy and the Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office (CIPRO), with the Department of Communications rollout due to start soon.
"Columbus initially followed a dual approach to the South African market, selling directly and through a number of partners," says Ferdinand Mabalane, channel manager at Columbus Technologies. "We found this was inappropriate as the attention of all parties involved was not fully focused and we could not ensure optimal customer service in support of our product.
"Columbus therefore decided to adopt a channel-only sales strategy and to focus its energies on assisting partners with training and technical support. The issuing of government's Tender 543 proved this strategy correct as Columbus was able to gain and expand a foothold in the public sector."
This indirect strategy leaves the sales and customer relationships to the company's partners. Columbus, in turn, provides free sales training and technical certification courses to its channel.
Columbus has three categories of partners: Bronze, Silver and Gold. All five South African partners have achieved Gold status due to the sales and technical skills they have dedicated exclusively to the product as well as their national footprint Mabalane says the company will expand its private sector presence by the appointment of two new partners. "We need to limit the number of Gold partners we appoint to ensure we provide the required support to our channel and assist them in delivering the optimal service to end-users."
Having established itself as the leader in desktop lifecycle management in the South African market, Columbus will also expand its African operations over the next few years. The company already has partners operating in Uganda and Namibia, with more to come as its continental partner base expands.