The Federation of All India IT Association (FAIITA) was established to unite partners and highlight the significance of the channel. FAIITA has emerged as a strong voice of the channel fraternity which is vocal against the anti-channel elements. It has not only brought a ray of hope among partners, but brought a sense of unity in the entire fraternity. FAIITA has taken channel’s expectations to the next level and now it will be very critical for the apex body to deliver on its commitments.
The formation of the Federation of All India IT Associations (FAIITA) is one of the historical movements in the IT channel fraternity. A group of like minded people came together in early 2014 to take united efforts against the unfair trade practices in the channel business. After several rounds of discussion, the idea of a national federation evolved and supported by partners. The national forum was constituted in February 2015 with a vision to safeguard to promote healthy business practices. Today, FAIITA has emerged as an apex body of the channel fraternity which is acknowledged by vendors as well as the government.
Need for National Federation
The aggressive price war among the online marketplaces and vendor’s alleged mute approval to the excessive price cutting were the major reasons behind the need for a national federation. A Delhi based Progressive Channels Association of Information Technology (PCAIT) took the initiative and organized the meet of all the major IT associations in August 2014. After rounds of discussions in the national capital, the partners unanimously vowed to form a national federation.
“OLS portals are engaged in heavy discounting and price cutting. This is not an ideal way of doing business. We, as IT associations and state federations had several times raised the issue with vendors and the authorities. Unfortunately, nobody seemed interested to listen to us. Therefore, we strongly felt a need for a unified body which would represent us at a national level”, said Alok Gupta, president of PCAIT.
However, the regional associations and state federations have been already aggressive on the issue and time to time marked their protest through means like boycotting the brands. So can the evolution of a national forum be called as some sort of failure of regional federations? Saket Kapur, General Secretary of FAIITA doesn’t think so.
“No doubt that IT associations and state IT federations are very strong in their respective regions, but there are some common issues of the channel partners which needs attention at the national level”, Kapur said.
Endorsing similar thoughts, Arun Kumar Dey, president of IT Association of Orissa (ITAO) says that FAIITA doubles the power of the regional associations and the united forum has a larger impact on the fraternity.
Change in Vendors’ perspective
The biggest success of FAIITA is that the apex body of associations made vendors to acknowledge the importance of the offline channel partners. The purchase refrain in December 2014 proved milestone in giving the federation nationwide visibility. According to FAIITA, the purchase refrain was successful across the regions and major success was seen in west and north regions where associations overwhelmingly supported the strike.
However, according to observations, the agitation lost its momentum shortly as the significant chunk of non registered dealers did not support the strike. The difference of opinion was also seen among the parent federations and associations on the total purchase refrain. Though the success of FAIITA’s purchase strike is debatable, it tried to shake vendors to some extent. Those vendors who were earlier ignorant about the channels’ problems, started connecting with their partners. Vendors like Canon, HP, Asus, Acer, Toshiba, Dell, Quick Heal etc opposed the predatory pricing policies of OLS. They also issued an advisory denying support to unfair business.
Tushar Sighat, Executive Director and CEO of D-Link India said, “We are the channel centric company and always routed our sales through the channel. We don’t support predatory pricing and always request our partners not to be predatory by themselves.”
Similarly, Lenovo India issued an advisory that states, ““E-commerce companies like Snapdeal and Amazon.in are not authorized Lenovo resellers.” Whereas Sony stated, “Any Sony product purchased from an unauthorized Sony reseller may not be eligible for any of the benefits above, including manufacturer’s 1 year limited warranty.”
Significantly, for the first, the channel fraternity witnessed togetherness among partners across the regions. The refrain call fetched fruits for the tiresome effort of bringing all together.
“The purchase refrain showed the strength of unity among the channel partners. We are not against the online players, but we opposed their business practices. The strike was to make the vendors realize the gravity of our concerns. Channel partners across the country set aside their difference of opinion and joined hands to make this movement successful and that was a big achievement for us”, said Champakraj Gurjar, president of FAIITA.
Sanjeev Walia, Senior Vice president of the Punjab Association of Computer Traders (PACT) said the purchase refrain showed the strength of the offline channel partners and compel the vendors to acknowledge their prominence.
Will Conflict of power spoil the efforts?
Unlike any other organization, FAIITA cannot separate itself from resisting forces within the body. Many people with many opinions may make a room for conflict of power which can be a major obstacle in the journey of the federation. In such a situation, it would be a Hercules task for FAIITA to bring all the member associations at a common level of understanding. Sanjay Chhajer, Vice president of Compass says that the national federation needs, identify the non conflicting areas to avoid the clash of opinion.
“When there is an association, there is a scope for difference of opinion. FAIITA will need to focus on more empirical ways and the representatives will have to scarify their personal interest and think beyond their respective regions”, he said.
However, Senthil Kumar M, president of Tamil Nadu based CONFED ITA feels that such conflict of interest will not create any hindrance in the activities of FAIITA.
“FAIITA has been structured in a very professional way. It has defined rules and regulation on the basis of incentive ground work and feedback. The rules and procedures are set and all are bound to follow it. Therefore, I do not see any conflict of power between the national body and state federations”, he said.
Promote Make in India in Channel
The ambit of FAIITA is not restricted only to channel partners. It looks beyond the distribution and build the strengths of all the stakeholders in the channel. FAIITA aims to build a strong support system for SMEs and to promote the “Make in India” vision among the small entrepreneurs. The federation has very ambitious plans like B2B portal and international tie ups.
Gaurang Vyas, president of Gujarat based FITAG says that FAIITA can take a lead in promoting the domestic manufacturing in a big way.
“Small and Medium enterprises have a lot of potentials to fulfil the dream of PM Modi. FAIITA will support SMEs and build their capabilities”, Vyas said.
In a major achievement, the federation has entered into a strategic partnership with the Computer Association of Taiwan to facilitate exchange of technology and skills between both the countries. Both the associations have signed up and MoU to work together for the growth and betterment of the channel business.
FAIITA is contemplating to introduce its B2B portal to compete with the OLS. The dealers’ portal aims to assure delivery of services at the doorstep of the customers. The idea of online platform for the members at its initial stage and the federation hopes to come up with a concrete plan shortly.
However, some of the members of the federation are little apprehensive about the ambitious idea. A senior IT veteran from an influential association in East India says that having a B2B portal is an ambitious idea. However, FAIITA needs more brainstorming and ground work to come up with its own marketplace.
“Having a B2B portal is a very ambitious thing. However, FAIITA needs to have more thought process on what kind of value addition, will this platform, offer and how it will benefit the small partners”, he said.
The future roadmap
The formation of the Federation of All India IT Associations (FAIITA) is one of the historical movements in the IT channel fraternity. The federation not only made vendors acknowledge the significance of the offline channel, but brought all the IT associations under one umbrella. For the first time in the history of channel business, collective efforts of the partners got recognition on a national platform. However, FAIITA has to go a long way to maintain the momentum in the future.