Tackling and locking down a channel model

Tackling and locking down a channel model

SurfControl's Daniel Crnkovich talks to ARN

What was your first job?
My first real job out of school was with the National Australia Bank. I lasted about three months. My career has been a bit different in the fact that I was a sportsperson. I was contracted with Parramatta Rugby Leagues. The job was interfering with training - I couldn't get to training in time from the city. So I decided to put that career on hold.

Can you tell us more about your football career and how you came into IT?
You don't choose a football career - it's something that occurred. I had about 10 years with Parramatta playing first grade [1986-1995]. When I retired, I had been working at a soft furnishing business for five years. I sold that to my partner and decided I needed to get into IT. It was pre-GST. My introduction to the industry was by setting up a company with three other guys in point-of-sale. We took some technology from the photographic industry and applied it to the retail market.

That's really where I learnt the basics of IT down to the back office, management of accounts, and some of the key benefits that systems can provide a business. That area fascinated me, because it was more about getting better control of your business life.

We ended up merging with the software developer, Whitech, and I became a shareholder. Today, Whitech is the leading photographic software in the market place. Most people would have seen their booths in Kodak, Fuji, etc. About one month ago, Fuji Xerox bought into the company. So it was a great introduction. After the merger I joined SurfControl.

What does your job at SurfControl entail?
I've been here six years, the previous five years in a management role looking after the NSW and Queensland sales teams. Over the last eight months, I've been in the partner director's role. That's coincided with a push from SurfControl to be 100 per cent channel centric. This meant we needed to start coordinating better on a national basis with partners and resellers.

What do you like about your current job?
It's very interesting in the fact that we can now run specific programs around our solutions suite. The technology we are taking to the market is always changing, and it's why I like this job. This is because the nature of the threats, such as spam, are constantly evolving and growing. It means we continually have to be innovative. We have gone to a distribution model, which is new to SurfControl. It's meant that we've had to learn different ways of managing our business and also engaging differently with the market place. And it's always good when you're learning something new.

What's your biggest achievement?
Tough question. I never think about the biggest achievements - you set yourself a task and go with that. My task this year was to select a distributor and effectively change our channel program. So if I look at this question from today's perspective, it would be achieving those objectives.

Playing first grade [rugby league] was also an achievement. I don't talk about it a lot though because it was years ago and it's not the focus now. But you take a lot away from sport, such as discipline, concentration and a will to win.

What do you dislike most about the IT industry?
I don't like the word 'dislike'. What I would say is that IT moves so fast you don't always get the opportunity to understand something fully before the market moves on to the next technology.

What's the next big thing in the industry?
If you look at people's expectations, it's all about wireless. Being able to meet the challenges it presents, as well as how we meet the needs of the next generation of users who are growing up on the Internet, is the next thing. I was reading something the other day about Japanese kids who don't know how to type because they do all of their Internet browsing off their phone. Looking at that, it will be interesting to see how the next generation workforce will adapt to meet some of those cultural conditions.

What's the main focus of your company this year?
The main focus is channel. If you look at SurfControl Australia, 98 per cent of our new business is through channels. Over the next six months, our challenge is to address our large annuity-based business. When we first started, a lot of our business was direct. It's about transferring that back into our channel and providing value.

What do you do when you're not at work?
I run. I've had two [knee] reconstructions, so while I'd love to play soccer or something, I can't, so I just run. I did a half-marathon the other week and spent time training for that. I also do a bit of gym. And in summer I have an occasional surf on the long board.

How about travel - any big trips planned?
I have a trip planned to France and Croatia, as it's been 20 years since I was there and it's time to go back. I have hundreds of relatives over there and speak the language [Croatian], so I should be comfortable. I also visited Italy last year, which was great. Europe's history and architecture fascinates me. When I started uni, I thought I'd be a history teacher. I did two years of history before transferring to a management course.

Do you like gadgets?
No, I tend to get other people to set things up for me. I'd rather do a sports activity than spend time on a gadget.

What did you want to be when you were younger?
It was a mixed bag. I just enjoyed sport and had a natural talent for it. I actually thought I'd be a cricketer, but football took its course. But I never made a conscious decision that this was what I was going to be. You just enjoy life at that age.

What is your biggest ambition?
I keep it simple. My ambition is to continually provide some value back to what I'm doing and achieve the goals I set. At SurfControl, it's about ensuring the new model we've created is actually working, and providing value back to our reseller base. Personally - if you can go and help somebody and provide value to them, then that's my objective. And stay away from ego.

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