The Internet is our universal excuse for everything that's right and, often conveniently, wrong with the IT industry.
Sales booms and new market opportunities are attributed to the Internet while industry problems, such as the dark cloud over e-tailing, reflect the harsh economic realities of totally relying on the new technology.
The problem we have with the Internet is it feels like we have a horse tied to each limb.
Normal competitive and channel-specific business issues such as margins aside, I want to know if you have figured out exactly how your business is going to adapt and change around the Internet?
I think resellers and distributors fall into one of three camps when it comes to change induced by the Internet: the bleeding-edge risk takers, those keeping up with the Jones' (ahem), and the wait-and-see-ers.
Strathfield's acquisition of ozbuy.com marks an important development for an e-tailer, arguably one of the few companies in the bleeding-edge category.
The channel has been fascinated watching the rise, and occasional fall, of such companies. And the reason why is relatively straight forward. Most of us are happy to sit on the fence and watch as e-tailers become the guinea pigs of e-commerce.
Strathfield is taking a leap towards the bleeding-edge side of the IT business and should be recognised accordingly. As a result, I think it's worth noting Strathfield is not just buying a new channel to funnel commodity products, but a stake in an evolution spawned by believers of the Internet's "new economy" religion.
Will the gamble pay off? I don't know, and I don't think they do either. The point is I think the move is one of many to come as traditional retailers discover they can no longer ignore the impact the Internet will have in the future, whenever that arrives.
ARN Net takes off
Meanwhile, here at ARN we're making our own aggressive step towards embracing the Internet as a medium for communication within the channel.
This issue of ARN coincides with the official launch of our new Web portal, and I use that term deliberately. Static Web sites are passe, as are the dedicated news-only Web sites that serve the IT industry.
A portal by definition recognises you need more than news to run your business (a concept that doesn't sit easily with certain egotistical journalists).
ARN Net offers you access to a range of services including product, distributor and career information. In addition, it provides access to other services such as the IT marketplace e-exchange (more details on pages 28 and 29).
So does that mean we're taking our ball off news? Not at all! ARN Net also includes a Reuter's business wire feed in addition to our daily news and archive service, supported by our ARN Daily e-mail service.
The important message is ARN Net represents our commitment to building a home for the channel. And like physical homes, we will continue to add new services and features as time progresses.
I encourage you to e-mail me or ARN's online producer, Tamara Plakalo, at firstname.lastname@example.org, with your feedback so we can incorporate your ideas into ARN Net's development.