Selling a new channel strategy

Selling a new channel strategy

Channel director for Hitachi Data Systems, Steve Kelly, was one of several new recruits brought in this year to drive indirect business. He spoke to ARN about the challenges vendors face developing the right partner strategy, his love of start-ups and touring the globe.

What is the biggest achievement of your career?

Clearly some of the wins along the way are rewarding. Quite often it's the smallest wins too - it's the fun of doing it. One highlight was winning a deal at Vodafone selling Websphere against a competitor.

What is the focus for you over the next year?

The biggest thing for me is how to build capacity with the channel we have got and what levers can we move to drive that capacity. Once you build the ability for partners to sell autonomously, the rest follows. We're a long way from that and part of this capability is being able to understand who our channel is and then work out a plan for each partner to help them get where they need to go. As a vendor, you have to acknowledge that channel partners are running their own businesses and you need to fit in with that. That takes humility and common sense. We want to build that culture but also set goals and be aggressive.

What do you dislike about the IT industry?

I'm in IT because I think it's the best industry to work in and because you get to be a fl y in the wall in some of the biggest business decisions that get made by companies.

It's not so much a dislike as a challenge, but I'm watching the activity around the behemoths in terms of vendor consolidation and who's buying who. It's what fuels the organic growth but a lot of that is artificial because it's like mining - you strip out all the coal and then the ground collapses around you. What I like about this industry is the innovation developed by small companies.

What's the next big thing in the industry?

Virtualisation and cloud computing. Anyone who disputes that it isn't here already is silly. What we need to do is to stop talking about products and look at the benefits for businesses.

What do you do when you're not at work?

Play with my children - it's all about the kids on weekends. I also read and take pictures. I used to mountain bike a lot and would like to get back into that more. I also love travel - I've just come back from four years in a job travelling in Asia-Pacific. At some point in the future I'll probably do that again.

Do you like gadgets?

Yes. I love my Blackberry. I used to run the pervasive computing business for IBM which included things like speech recognition and in-car navigation and it was a cool business to be in.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

When I was five I wanted to be tree climber.

What's your biggest ambition?

My ambition at some point is to throw all this away and run a start-up again because it's great fun. But there is no grand plan.

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