A few weeks ago my QA manager yelled out that he needed some new software to help with testing the GP2013 web client versions of our products. I said tell me what you need. He emailed me a link to a software website with exactly what he needs priced at $3000. I browsed the site and they looked real. I read some reviews, checked that there was an active forum. I typed in my credit card number and 3 minutes later we had the software installed and working.
The way a business buys software has changed forever. Not that long ago if a business needed software to help with their integrations - they would call their VAR, set up a meeting, explain their needs, receive a proposal, see a demo, think about it a bit and 12 weeks later make a purchase.
Today with the wonderful interwebs - they want to buy software just like I did. Needs arising, purchase decisions and purchase actions can be made within the same hour. I had a question last week from a VAR "why does eOnes new website allow customers to purchase directly" - and the answer is easy, "customers demanded it - it is how they buy software now".
At eOne we have a massive respect for good Value adding VAR's and will always look after our partners. We also have a massive respect for our own business and ability to sell software and make money. If customers choose to buy our software direct, we have no choice but to allow them to buy direct.
A good VAR is invaluable to a business. The good VAR is a trusted advisor. A good VAR's advice is so good that a customer would not make a purchase without their advice. A good VAR knows software so well that they can make it do things an end customer could never imagine. A good VAR saves a customer money by doing clever and innovative things. If a VAR wants to compete in the world of Internet and Google, in the world of Saas and 'do it yourself software' they have to be good. they have to be real good. They have to be so good that their customers would not make a move without them.
So given that the way a business can buy software has changed so much - VAR's have no choice but to provide unprecedented value to their customers.