Nortel channel partners converged on the Gold Coast last month as the vendor rolled out its new channel training program in Australia and New Zealand.
The three-day Accelerator event was the first in Nortel's nPower program, which was announced earlier this year. The recognition of the convergence of voice and data networks through Nortel's Metro and Enterprise division is fundamental to the program. But nPower also encompasses a very different approach for Nortel in the way it does business with resellers.
To begin with, the vendor has culled the number of partners from 3,000 down to about 130 across the Asia-Pacific region. It seems like a drastic reduction, but Nortel is now concentrating on distribution channels to provide service and support to resellers that do not specifically focus on Nortel products.
"Tier-two distributors are really in the business of logistics and they also want to expand their business to service and training so they have a healthy base of resellers," said Bob Burke, Nortel senior vice president for enterprise marketing. "It is a good way to go and it's a lot more efficient for everybody involved."
Nortel had acquired 27 companies in three years, most with their own distribution networks, explained Barry Southern, Nortel Asia-Pacific president for enterprise solutions.
"We realised we needed to build a model that could better support the channel, but we realised we couldn't support 3,000 [dealers]."nPower partners must be able to show a commitment to both convergence and the vendor. Nortel has rights of audit to ensure its channel meets objectives and will not be afraid to downgrade a reseller that does not make the grade. "Some partners are actually under review now and we will discontinue them as partners," Southern said.
Resellers that did meet the requirements of nPower attended the conference as guests of Nortel.
Enterprise spending across Asia is expected to have a compound annual growth rate of 10 per cent to 2003, compared to only 3 per cent in the US and 5 per cent in Europe. That puts Australian partners in a good position, according to Burke.
"By 2006, Asia will be fully one-third of enterprise spending," he told nPower delegates at the conference. He said the nPower program was all about helping partners become more profitable.
"It about working so that you feel empowered to take the solution to the customer, talk about their needs and go out there and make it happen. It's about doing what you say you are going to do. Customers will come back to the partner that performs."