In the past 18 months or so, EMC has been talking to partners about its Velocity Partner Program in an attempt to identify the parts that work and those that don’t. What have been the key findings?
Steven Leonard, EMC (SL): One was that our supply chain was a burden for us because too frequently we were unable to give partners clear visibility of when product would arrive in country for install at the customer site, the leadtime for getting product into the country was too long, and unfortunately in some cases when the product did arrive there had been some damage along the way because of points of handling.
We took that feedback and asked a very senior member of our team to lead a concerted effort around this, dedicating hundreds of hours interviewing a variety of partners in many different countries – [Local distributor] Westcon was one of the companies we spent a lot of time with. We went through the supply chain and broke it down into a variety of workfl ows so we could set ourselves the goal of reducing the meantime by 50 per cent.
We also focused on MWD [missing, wrong or damaged] because if we get the product on site in time, but a cable is missing and a $600,000 piece of equipment is compromised, it’s a problem. So we tried to drive it down by a considerable number. Even one damaged shipment would be unacceptable but we do $US1.5 billion of business [per year] in Asia so we’re not going to do everything perfect all the time. The goal was to reduce it dramatically and, when there is a problem, could we rectify it in a couple of days rather than a couple of weeks?
So supply chain wasn’t working well but we’ve attacked it. We’ve got a fairly robust group now in every country and have opened a supply chain hub in Hong Kong that stages product coming in from our manufacturing facility in Europe, which means we can react much more quickly within Asia. We’ve just opened another hub in Tokyo and are evaluating two other locations in Asia.
What other areas of the program have you been focusing on?
SL: The second problem we uncovered was that our training program was taking too long and was too costly. Partners needed to be in one of our classrooms for six or seven days but only wanted to be out of the office for three. We looked at our training materials to see how we could compress it without compromising the quality of the training. What we don’t want, and have had a few instances of, is meet a partner’s training requirement in a short period of time and then have things fall over. We’ve tried to strike a balance between simplifying those things that can be simplified and dedicating more time to things that need serious study – replication and virtualisation are not things you can learn in a day-long course but maybe installing X amount of hardware is.
We’ve also made some of our courses free of charge, which may sound like a no-brainer but for EMC it was a big deal. After talking to a number of partners I wondered why we would be charging to train them in order to make sure they’re certified to implement our technology. There are some complicated software programs that we do charge for, because they add material value to a partner’s business, but we’ve tried to look at that in the form of credits.
We’ve also tried to help partners specialise a bit because a partner that’s great at backup, recovery and archiving might not be the right one to focus on information security or authentication. If you specialise in an area that has some adjacencies then we will try to support you.