Editorial--If the shoe fits

One of the cornerstones of leadership is accepting blame for something that goes wrong, even if it isn't directly your fault. Attempting to pass the buck makes you look weak and out of control.

When it comes to some of the mishaps that occur in the channel, we as journalists are in a privileged position to observe and evaluate the different responses of resellers and other parties under the microscope.

I'm referring to events such as Compaq going direct, Edge Technology going bust, and the outcry over the GST. This week we have serious complaints against the ATO.

The Federal Government's tax police are making life miserable for a few, if not a lot, of resellers. As reported on page 1, withholding up to $14,000 in refunds from one channel company for apparently no valid reason is, in my mind, a crime against Australian business.

How will thousands of small businesses, notably resellers, who credit customers with their measly $200 worth of GST-related goods or services survive if the ATO defies its own promise of a 14-day reimbursement?

The small resellers are the real victims here, and the Government needs to know it. I find it laughable that the ATO can claim it "didn't anticipate demand" when the claims started rolling in. If the Government sent out over two million $200 cheques, there's a pretty good chance they will be spent.

Of course when you are in a large Government bureaucracy it's easy to pass the buck and deny all knowledge. After all, who's going to police the ATO?

It's time the ATO and the Government realised they serve the channel, not the other way around.

Are you in the same boat? Let me know.

Go the innovator

On the subject of leadership, the view from atop an e-tail startup operation can't be a pretty one. I speak here of our friend Tony Gattari and his still-to-launch Smartbuy site.

When Gattari joined the e-tail race greed was king, good ideas were worth a bucketload and anything with a dot in the middle was rising faster than Gerry Harvey's temperature when discussing online catalogues.

My, how times have changed. Survival is now the priority, good ideas allow you to keep your job, and dots either find a sound business plan or get rubbed out.

Gattari's plan to use Australia Post for e-commerce fulfilment is not a new idea, but it's a good one. This move raises a very important point for our IT distribution collective, and it's one I've commented on before. If time and place distribution is your game, the real competition is not other IT distributors, but the logistics and freight companies such as TNT, UPS and FedEx. You've got trucks - they own the airplanes. You use one courier - they employ thousands of them. You get the idea.

So Gattari should be given the thumbs up because building a company like his is not easy, and we need more innovators like this in Australia.

The only problem he foresees is an industry-wide concern. With the advent of broadband and high-speed Internet, e-commerce is expected to take off within the next two years. From here on in it's survival of the fittest. I wonder how many of our country's Internet execs have gym memberships?

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