If you think the online vs. offline battle doesn’t exist in the technology channel space anymore, you may be highly mistaken. The recent allegations against software giant Autodesk has created uproar in the Indian channel community, with regards to price difference in the online and offline space. In the past one week, the entire social media of the Indian channel partner community has been going gaga over the differences in partner-pricing and purchase of a product directly.
“The customers might be thinking we are trying to cheat them with higher rates,” says a partner selling Autodesk products, who argues, “Autodesk India should maintain price parity among the channels.
Another reseller mentions, “What has happened to hardware channel partners years before, is happening to software today,” as he regrets that this way, channel will be impacted big time.
Many WhatsApp groups were filled with allegations leveled against the OEM and their India team on the discounted pricing available in the website.
While the major issue is the pricing, another key allegation leveled against the OEM is sudden appointment of distributors without prior intimation to the partners working at ground level. According to media reports, FAIITA, the national IT forum having all the IT associations across the country calls it an unethical business practice had come out with a statement considering a boycott of the OEM. “We had communicated with the OEM on the issues of the channel partners. In an exclusive interaction with Channel Times, Alok Sharma, Country Manager, Channels (India & SAARC), Autodesk, speaks on the pricing issue and channel plans across the country.
CT: Are some products of Autodesk online pricing is cheaper than the partner price? Don’t you think you are making your software a commodity and not a solution?
Alok Sharma: Autodesk’s business model across all key global markets is through partner-led customer engagement. Autodesk has an omni-channel system for reselling of software that provides easier access to a broader portfolio of technology for business owners and enhance access to the best of 3D design software for Indian customers.
In India, we have an e-store and sell via channel, which provides our customers great convenience and choice. We sell on-line in many countries in which we operate, as do many multinational software companies.
All our channel partners are independent and free to determine the retail prices at which they want to sell Autodesk software to their respective customers. Hence, reseller prices may vary and is also subject to currency fluctuation.Customers are free to negotiate price and choose from whom they purchase.
CT: A partner is sitting with a customer who has been working for Autodesk for some time and when the closure is happening, all of a sudden there is information about the change of distributor. While it is your internal policy, don’t you think that your channel partners who had built the software from the Day 1 should have been informed well in advance?
Alok Sharma: We greatly value our partner community and work closely with them to drive adoption of 3D Design software in India. Our customers are free to choose which partners they wish to work with and purchase from
CT: While there are many national distributors are in India, again why one distributor? What is wrong in having two or more emerging distributors to avoid monopoly?
Alok Sharma: In India, we have three distributors: Redington India , TechData and ARK Infosolutions. We work closely with a strong and trusted network of channel partners to provide greater affordability, availability and accessibility to our best-in-class design technologies. Our channel ecosystem in India includes, 40+ partners (both VAD and VARs). We have 2 Platinum partners in India, MicroGenesis CADSoft and Capricot Technologies.
We work very closely with our distributors on business growth and are highly optimistic about the future of our business in India. Our partners continue to grow with us and we are excited about the future growth opportunities. In fact, sales from indirect channels have grown 30% worldwide Year-on-Year. Our partner ecosystem continues to grow as we increase our footprint in India. Recently, we added 15 partners to our India channel ecosystem with Tech Data being the latest addition to our partner network.
CT: What measures do you take to ensure the smooth business happening between an Autodesk partner and your new distributor?
Alok Sharma: From ongoing trainings and resources to sales and technical teams to access to Autodesk sales, and marketing resources and support, we help them to thrive and succeed in the era of cloud-based technologies. Our partners continue to grow and we are happy to add value to their business.
In addition, our partner ecosystem is heavily invested in promoting adoption of Autodesk software. For example, software Implementation services, software adoption programs to name a few are important revenue streams for our partners besides selling our products. Customers routinely reach out to our partner community for such services.
Autodesk is also investing to help partners build services muscle. As recently as Aug 2019 alone, 5 Autodesk partners have announced new services offering build with Autodesk products & technology. We also recently completed 5 cities partner enablement workshops which was attended by more than 150 partners, sales and technical resources.
CT: Is the double pricing is only for a limited period or will continue for some more time?
Alok Sharma: All our channel partners are independent and free to determine the retail prices at which they want to sell Autodesk software to their respective customers. Hence, reseller prices may vary and is also subject to currency fluctuation.
CT: As an alternative for this sale pricing, is Autodesk planning to increase the service margins of your partners?
Alok Sharma: All our channel partners are independent and free to determine the retail prices at which they want to sell Autodesk software to their respective customers.
CT: What is the market roadmap for India business?
Alok Sharma: We have democratized the adoption of design technologies with a highly effective and flexible subscription-only licensing model. Customers can choose from quarterly, or annual lengths when they purchase a subscription via their local reseller and partners.
India is one of the most successful markets for Autodesk in terms of synergy with the channel community to drive holistic business growth of the entire ecosystem. They continue to trust, thrive and grow with us, as we continue to scale new heights of business growth and momentum in India. We are confident that by working closely with our partner community we will be able to provide greater availability, accessibility and affordability of advanced design technology to our customers in India.