Westcon ups its services game

Westcon ups its services game

Cisco’s rapidly increasing product and solutions portfolio is creating new challenges and opportunities for its channel partners. Westcon Group vice-president of global strategic vendor relations, Bill Corbin, was in Australia earlier this month to engage in strategic planning sessions with Cisco and ensure global initiatives are being embedded in its regional practice. He and Westcon’s newly appointed Australian Cisco business manager, Sam Paris, spoke to ARN about how the distributor is reshaping its global programs and initiatives to expand its Cisco business.

What are some recent initiatives Westcon has been working on to improve its Cisco business?

Bill Corbin (BC): We are doing a lot of international work around shipments. The biggest thing for us right now is figuring out how we globally manage our inventory with Cisco to optimise services for our customers globally.

We're also looking at how we do global ordering and local fulfilment. We have spent an enormous amount of time and effort working on the globalisation piece of our business. Now it's incumbent on us to communicate that message out to the regions and make sure they have the resources and facilities to take advantage of something that I think gives us a competitive advantage in the industry.

Sam Paris (SP): Across the world and as a business, we want to leverage the most efficient methods of buying goods from our vendors and getting them out to where we represent managed channels. Cisco represents more than half of Westcon's business globally and accounts for about $1.6 billion in revenue. In Australia, the distributor will turn over $150-$170 million in Cisco sales this year. One of the top three business strategies for Cisco is globalisation and how they manage the top 1000 companies on the stock exchange, because they represent a number of different sales agencies worldwide. Any bank you talk of has an office in another country. Cisco is relying on distribution to provide the architecture for addressing those. There are a lot of Australian companies selling to users who have entities outside of this country as well, such as mining companies like BHP and Rio Tinto.

Is this push on globalisation tied to your efforts around global brand consistency?

BC: The brand change was coincidental. I think it's a great to have one brand worldwide. Going from LAN Systems to Westcon was one step. We currently operate as three different companies in North America and we're making the brand change there as well.

Over the last three or four years we've embraced being a global company. About a year ago we realised it was a competitive advantage if we could structure our business legally so we could take one order from someone like Telstra and transact that anywhere in the world.

SP: Another huge fundamental change is Bill's creation of a governance board specifically to represent the Cisco business to our group. And we have launched value-add programs in Europe, the US, Turkey, Singapore, the Middle East and Canada. One of my key objectives this year is to launch these programs locally. The program we're launching is called 1X and is a portal or community for resellers to allow them to sell Cisco smarter. It also provides a selection of tools around a sales cycle so they are better trained, and demand generation and marketing tools. A voice reseller or UC partner for example, can access collateral to understand why Cisco versus Nortel, or why UC versus traditional PBX.

BC: The program is Cisco-centric, but it also allows a partner to see the complementary products, services and solutions that may enhance their user experience with something like a UC500.

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