Traditionally a stalwart of the direct sales school, Siemens is building a channel for its new line of business telephony products, which will include experts in the data field.
The telco product manufacturer is under a global directive to move 70 per cent of its sales through the channel within the next two years. Its current channel volume is around 20 per cent, including handsets, headsets, communications servers (PABXs) and cordless phones.
Greg Bezuidenhout, general manager of sales for he vendor's information and communication division, said the initiative signals a fundamental change in mindset, with Asia-Pacific leading the way.
"A lot of the products we typically sold in voice now have a significant data capability. The most logical way to address this is to secure the services of data specialists. For the guys typically doing LANs and WANs, voice is just another feature," he said.
Bezuidenhout plans to take a broad channel approach, recruiting organisations like Logical and NetStar, as well as initiating strategic alliances with services giants like IBM GSA and EDS.
In exchange for Siemens' vast expertise and technical backing, IT partners provide customer contacts and data knowledge, he said.
Siemens has formulated its partner program into a tiered structure that recognises the different levels of partnership and includes training, pre and post-sales support mechanisms, mutual business planning and access to knowledge.
Bezuidenhout said he is scouting for partners based on vertical and geographical coverage. "We're not signing as many as we can. I don't want to create competition for my own product, I want to create it for our competitors' products."