Tongue in cheek: Sell the farm!

If you're an Australian IT company and you want to make a real buck out of this business, your best bet is to forget about being an Australian IT company.

Sell the farm. Herd up your intellectual property, your technology, market share and experience, drop a few buzzwords that position you as being a leader in one of the markets of the moment and get out.

That's what JNA did last month to the tune of a tidy $114 million.

And you can wager with certainty that they won't be the last.

Maybe it's because the Yanks have too much money. Maybe it's because there's only so much intellectual capital you can cram into one valley. Whatever the reason, the big US giants seem to be increasingly eyeing international companies. And Australia seems to be high on the priority list for good places to start looking.

I edit Australian Reseller News (http://arn.idg.com.au), a weekly channel newspaper.

For the last couple of months, one word has dominated our news. Globalisation.

It has become blatantly obvious that a number of very large international distributors and integrators are looking to enhance their global presence by snapping up some of Australia's more successful local players. They need to do it, and they need to do it quickly, because if they don't their competitors are going to beat them to the punch. The race to establish a global presence is on and the stakes -- worldwide market domination -- are high.

Perhaps it's a shame that the measure of success for Australian IT vendors is whether or not you're good enough to be acquired by big international competitiors.

The reality is, though, that it's almost impossible for any smaller company to take on the massive international giants. It's even harder if your headquarters are thousands of kilometres away from the world's most significant market. It's becoming increasingly the case, that the only way to really crack the big time is to be absorbed by one of the larger players.

It's not surprising then that JNA went looking for international partners. Or that some of Australia's most successful distributors and integrators are putting their hands up as willing takeover targets.

I for one would rather be sailing around the Pacific, rather than fighting a losing battle in a war between David and Goliath.

In saying that, though, you have to admire the companies that want to do it themselves. I recently spoke to NGD, an Australian developer of network and Internet management Web tools. A commercial spinoff from Curtin University in Western Australia, NGD has scooped a number of prestigous international awards including being a finalist for Best at Comdex. The company has now set up a US operation and wants to make it by itself. It will be interesting to see if technical superiority in a fast growing market is enough for a little company from Australia to crack the big time.

I actually think that it's time I make a buck out of this business myself, so I've decided to make myself available for acquisition. I reckon I'm a chance because I can drop more buzzwords that a bandsaw manufacturer.

How does this sound:

For sale: Journalist.

Intranet, voice/data integration, Windows NT, Layer 4 switching, Web-development, thin-client, Internet, wave division multiplexing, network management, information appliances. Is capable of writing about any of the above.

Philip Sim is the editor of Australian Reseller News. E-mail him at philip_sim@idg.com.au

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