BT's resellers are facing competition as the telco's small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) division launches its Clearsky programme targeting small businesses with IT products and services.
The telco launched the strategy to supply technology-dependent SMEs - including ISPs, media enterprises and science parks - directly with end-to-end IT consultancy and products.
But resellers contacted by vnunet.com's sister title Computer Reseller News said they were not aware of this BT initiative.
George Sanger, sales director at BT reseller Xpert Systems, said: "It is strange that BT has set up this entity that competes with the channel, and clarification is needed."
John Thornhill, managing director at BT Indirect Channels, said that because of the complex nature of the rollouts "it is quite likely that our [resellers] will be asked to work with us".
Sanger enphasised a need for clarity. "It would be useful to know BT's final channel strategy and how direct sales teams will interface with resellers," he said.
BT Clearsky, claim suppliers, fails to understand the specific needs of businesses operating in newer technology-dependent companies.
But Gordon Davies, commercial director at BT reseller Compusys, said the so-called new wave SME businesses make up about 25 per cent of his business.
"I'd like BT to show me the customers who think we do not know what we are doing. BT has been thrashing around for a strategy in the SME market but it is the indirect model that has prospered when others haven't," he said.
"You have to have a close and trusted relationship with SME customers to succeed."
Pravin Patel, head of marketing at BT Clearsky, said: "Over the last 12 to 18 months we have developed a small team of people trained to provide end-to-end IT consultancy."
He said the division would deal mainly with BT products, but would also sell those from other vendors, ranging from Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and firewalls to basic ISP services.
BT predicts that the market in the UK is worth £500m now and will be worth £814m in 2004.
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