Presented by Axiz

Good business practice – the responsibility of ethical corporate citizens

Value-added enterprise technology distributor Axiz is a channel-friendly organisation which is invested in its partners and customers. This is according to Executive at Axiz, Traci Maynard, who plays a key role in the success of the company.

Responsible for several tech vendors including Microsoft, Maynard manages the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), Volume Licensing, and cloud businesses across South Africa and Africa.

As a Microsoft distributor, Axiz goes the extra mile to understand and address the challenges that its partners face in the channel and the concerns they may have in order to help them get new business.

Axiz recently conducted its 2019 Margin Channel Survey in association with Dell Technologies and Microsoft, which revealed the most recent challenges that the channel is facing.

Uncertain economic and political outlook

One of the prominent challenges according to the survey is uncertain economic and political outlook.

“The percentage of channel respondents who had a positive outlook on the economy in 2018, has dropped from 63.6% to 48.3% in 2019 – more than 15 percentage points,” said Maynard.

Uncontrollable exchange rates

Another challenge in distribution, according to Maynard, is with regards to the importation of products and the volatile exchange rate. The reason for this is because these variables cannot be controlled.

This means a focus in distribution needs to be on what can be controlled – which according to Maynard is making sure that the products in their portfolio are those which are in demand, and that they are competitively priced. “And, that’s exactly what we do for our partners,” said Maynard.

“As a 30-year-old company, we have the experience, knowledge, and tenacity to ensure that we continue to offer leading edge vendor technologies to our partner channel,” said Maynard.

Compliance and good corporate governance

Another challenge area is compliance. As a longstanding Microsoft partner, Axiz fully advocates action to promote good business practices.

According to Maynard, Microsoft took a stance earlier this calendar year involving a large long-standing Microsoft partner, which pointed to fairness and transparency and got Maynard thinking whether partners are always aware of the vendor rules.

A portrait of good corporate governance

Here’s a scenario: It’s common business practise for a partner to be working with an end customer to fulfil a business need, which includes a vendor technology, either software or hardware, by way of example.

That would mean that the partner reaches out to their supplier/distributor for a quotation; one which the partner wants elevated to the highest vendor contact, to ensure that the deal is very aggressively priced.

Once the quote is in hand, the partner then adds on their margin including their services, thereby firmly placing that partner in the front line of winning that business.

A round of quotes can be provided to the end customer and then, as is customary, a decision is made based on the RFP criteria on which partner wins that business.

“That may sound easy – but to what point do businesspeople drive the request for more discount from all the parties in the chain? The vendor needs the dollar revenue, the partner’s business needs the revenue and the end customer wants to continue with their business,” said Maynard.

“However, sometimes a practical choice feels like it may not be the most ethical one and achieving business success sometimes seems to be in conflict with ‘doing the right thing’,” said Maynard.

Further to this, the reputational impact of being associated to any kind of bribery or corruption can be catastrophic.

The news in South Africa continues to highlight the levels of corruption in our country, from high profile politicians to state owned enterprises, which is why this is a particular sector area to beware of.

Traci suggests following your company’s code of conduct, which is often a set of principles created as a framework for all employees to follow – including the impact of bribery and corruption on a business.

“King IV on corporate governance makes us all aware of what is expected, and as a South African IT distributor, holding many international vendor contracts, our compliance is paramount to our relationships with these vendors,” said Maynard.

To this extent, Axiz’s role in the channel is to be compliant.

“By default, if we are compliant, our partners are compliant. To remain complaint, we regularly complete ethics and integrity training as part of these vendor contracts. In addition, our own internal ethics awareness is a core pillar of our employee code of conduct,” said Maynard.

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Good business practice – the responsibility of ethical corporate citizens