VAI Nets U.K.-Based Kingfisher for Reseller Partnership
January 12, 2009 Alex Woodie
New York-based VAI continued its thrust into international markets last week when it announced a new reseller agreement with Kingfisher Associates. The English software consultancy will sell and service VAI’s ERP software, and perhaps provide a jumping off point for continued European expansion by VAI in the future.
Founded in 1988, Kingfisher Associates provides custom RPG and Java programming services to companies that utilize the IBM Power Systems server (formerly AS/400). The company, which is based in southern England, primarily serves small and mid size businesses, and targets the AS/400 (Power Systems) industrial strongholds of manufacturing, distribution, and retail.
These factors–Kingfisher’s programming expertise and target customer base–fit in quite well with VAI, which, it just so happens, is in the middle of a push into international markets with S2K, its RPG-based suite of enterprise applications. “One of the reasons we were very interested when Kingfisher came to us is they target our sweet spot, which is the SMB,” says VAI sales director Dan Bivona.
Kingfisher already has experience with the S2K product, which was used by one of the founder’s in a previous job at a VAI customer in England. The consultancy will utilize that familiarity with one of the first tasks: localizing the S2K product, or translating it from American English to the King’s English, as it were.
The consultancy will also modify S2K as required by demands for custom, or “bespoke,” programs, according to Roy Mollet, the business development manager for Kingfisher. “We believe VAI’s S2K product suite will further strengthen our position in the U.K. SMB space, where historically, competitive ERP offerings running on IBM platforms have found it hard to penetrate the mid-market due to the relatively high costs and implementation times,” he says.
While the economic crisis is slowing down business around the world, it’s not preventing VAI from following through on its plan to expand its channel of resellers to overseas markets. Last fall, the company announced a partnership with a Panamanian consultancy that will sell S2K (parts which were translated to Spanish with the latest 5.0 release) to companies in Central and South America.
The Kingfisher partnership could likewise lead to further VAI expansion into continental Europe beyond, according to Pete Zimmerman, VAI’s manufacturing segment manager. “This relationship will provide VAI with a springboard to launch our product portfolio to new markets in Europe,” he says.
VAI finished 2009 on an up note, but the economic slowdown is causing companies to rethink their priorities for 2009. In many cases, IT budgets are being scaled back in lockstep with spending in other departments, which makes Bivona’s job a challenge. His response is to focus on the return that technology investments can make in business environments.
“Companies are looking at their inefficient systems, and looking to see where they can benefit from putting in new technologies,” he says. “It’s true it costs stuff to implement a new ERP, but we think in the long term, it’s gong to save them money, and we can prove that through ROI.”