14 SONATA SOFTWARE:Expansion Of Channel Base

Sonata’s clear focus on adding new channel partners yielded good results during 1999-00. From 500, the number of partners rose to over 900. The company tied up with Computer Associates for the distribution of its enterprise management products expanding its product portfolio.

Sonata tried to reduce the risks involved in the software distribution business. It did not aim at heavy top line growth. Instead, it took initiatives to add value instead of being a mere box pusher.

Resellers were encouraged to provide solutions to customers based on the Sonata product portfolio, which included Microsoft, Oracle, Lotus and SCO. Sonata resorted to bundling products to make them more attractive to partners.

To boost sales, Sonata worked out its own as well as vendor-driver target-based incentive schemes for the channel. Training programs were extensively conducted to keep the partners updated on latest technologies and products.

Sonata is looking at products that would give it better margins. It has plans to have in place at least three tie-ups every quarter this year to shore up the turnover. Talks are on with Seagate for Crystal Reports, Trend Micro for Internet security products and

Major initiatives are being planned to leverage the Internet this year. A Web store is being planned to be uploaded in the next six months. Company sources are quick to point out that the Web store is not meant to replace the existing channel but to deliver a much bigger product portfolio to users.

The Web would also enable Sonata to reach end-users much more quickly with new products. Overheads would be lower, marketing cycles would be cut down and there would be very little human interface. The company is in the process of negotiating with banks and financial institutions to work out the payment modalities.

Workforce has been stable at Sonata with attrition rate being around just three per cent. This is attributed to the various career options that Sonata offers to its employees. For instance, promising professionals are offered positions in international marketing since Sonata is a prominent software exporter.

Sonata is spinning off a separate company called Sonata Information Technology Ltd to focus on distribution work (for details see Channels News on page ……). Sonata’s ambition is to become South East Asia’s biggest support and training intensive software distribution company.

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