IN THE HOT SEAT: Macromedia's value proposition

IN THE HOT SEAT: Macromedia's value proposition

Despite his ascent to the managing director's position 12 months ago, Macromedia's John Biviano is as focused as ever on partner nous. The former channel director, who's CV includes stints with Adobe Systems and Sybari, said the software vendor is now looking to increase its value-added reseller ranks. He also pointed to a greater focus on the government and corporate sectors as the top priorities on Macromedia's charter this year.

Tell us about your role at Macromedia.

John Biviano (JB): I started at Macromedia about 18 months ago as the channel director for the Asia-Pacific. On April 1, I moved into the managing director role for A/NZ. This role is fairly similar in a lot of ways when it comes to the channel, but I'm also now responsible for the whole business. In the last 12 months I have seen the business grow about 20 per cent year on year.

What's the most significant initiative you've undertaken thus far?

JB: Getting closer to the channel has been a really big improvement for us. I don't mean so much the distributor level, as we've always had excellent relationships with Express Data, Tech Pacific and Scholastic, but more so with the actual resellers. We launched a preferred reseller program in January/February last year which was geared towards our volume resellers such as Harris Technology and City Software. We have seen that program develop over the last 12 months and our level of engagement with the reseller channel improve.

Our marketing strategy - and being able to execute and deliver against that strategy - has also been fantastic and a pleasing part of our performance. We have hired a marketing manager, Greg Olsen, to help coordinate this.

How many resellers do you now have participating in the program? When Macromedia launched it you were looking for 10 partners.

JB: I think we have exceeded that figure, but it's the style of reseller that we're now appointing to the program: our recent appointments include integrators Data #3, Software Spectrum and Corporate Express. And whilst continuing to have our volume movers, we've also seen some very education focused resellers like Software Time and Edsoft Australia scale up the volume they are contributing.

Last time you spoke with ARN, Macromedia was trying to broaden out from its software developer user base. How is this progressing?

JB: If you look at our product mix and historically where our revenues come from, it's still about 80 per cent geared towards the designer/developer. It's our core business, what we've been known for and what we'll continue to be known for. But we've seen several new growth areas emerge. One is the business user. We have been able to gain penetration around solutions like e-learning. Our Breeze, Captivate, and RoboHelp products have really assisted us in that area. We've also seen products like Contribute grow in the business space. This allows people to update content on the web with the skill set of a word processor user.

The third part to our business now is the consumer user. This comes from the advent of flash on mobile devices. Nokia and Samsung have announced flash player will be available globally on their high-end phones. This means that a lot of the content being developed on the web can be repurposed for those devices.

What are the opportunities for the channel to work with these new technologies?

JB: We have a large percentage of revenue coming from education because people want to learn web design and development. But with flash penetrating mobile devices, you'll start to see some courses around designing for mobile devices.

The other sector of growth for us will be government. It hasn't been an area we've focused heavily on historically. This is mainly due to resources - if you are going to focus on government, you need to resource it properly, not only in terms of headcount, but also marketing spend. But I think we can learn from how successful we've been in the education sector, as well as by sponsoring the right events and engaging at the right level. We've got the technologies there - ColdFusion at an applications server level, or those technologies I spoke of earlier like Breeze. With elearning becoming a hot topic, as well as compliance and IT government accessibility, we're there. We've got the key technologies we just haven't had the right messaging.

We also need to identify the key channel partners that we can leverage in our target key verticals. We are looking for a mix of those who focus on enterprise and government and who have mature marketing and sales engagement.

Piracy continues to present big problems for software vendors. How is Macromedia working to address this? And how much responsibility do resellers have?

JB: Both sides are responsible when it comes to piracy. We have introduced activation technology to our products to try to combat this. But we are also working with partners to implement awareness campaigns. This includes information about the implications of 'under licensing'. We are providing support and resources to help with software audits, compliance management and staff training.

Last question: What would you do if you were not working at Macromedia?

JB: A lifetime of sport commentary in cricket or rugby, two sports that I am particularly passionate about. I did some commentary work for Rugby Heaven during the 1999 world cup and developed a desire for it.

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