Jackson pledges EMC's faith in the channel

Jackson pledges EMC's faith in the channel

Gary Jackson is a man on a mission. After taking the reins of EMC's Asia Pacific operations in February he has overhauled the storage vendor's senior management in most countries, streamlined the company's go-to-market strategy, and committed to doubling the revenue contribution the region makes to EMC.

He's also taken a broom to EMC's channel and has stamped his intention to attack the government sector, which until now has all but been ignored by the manufacturer.

"I think EMC has left [government] alone a lot because it was too hard, too long and too cheap. Well I disagree with that, said Jackson. "It happens to be typically 30 per cent of the IT spend in almost any country and we can't afford to leave that alone."

His comments come after an eventful entry into EMC after leaving Cisco Systems and almost joining troubled rival Enterasys Networks before an accounting probe into its Asia-Pacific revenues landed the company in hot water with the Securities and Exchange Commission in the US.

Jackson has been quick to surround himself with new allies at EMC. In Australia he has appointed a new managing director in Steve Redman, and a new channels manager in former Tri-Point executive Michael Alp. Around the region it's much the same.

"What I want is people with responsibility in channels to understand what makes channels tick and know how to live it," Jackson told ARN. "I think EMC is like a lot of direct-oriented companies in that they have traditionally said we don't really mind whose running channels - but I do mind. I think it's absolutely fundamental to our strategy."

The Asia-Pacific region (excluding Japan) accounts for around 6 per cent of EMC's worldwide revenues. Jackson wants to take that to 10-12 per cent in the next two years.

"Looking at Australia/New Zealand, which represents about 22 per cent of the Asia-Pacific revenues, this place is important to be running well. I felt there were some changes that needed to be made coming in, so we've changed country management, and we've reduced five sales divisions to three because that's just a more efficient way to go to market."

EMC also appears to be addressing its perception in the channel. "Our channel strategies needed substantial improvement," Jackson said. "As a general high-level statement, I feel EMC has been a typical large vendor - it's déjà vu to me - very poor channel strategy, pretty arrogant to the channel and very focused on direct orders.

"We are going to be very consistent with our partners, we are going to help them become effective with our technology, we are not going to have millions of them, and we're going to be a bloody good technology partner of theirs," Jackson claimed. "That's an attitude thing, and we're not going to screw them round. We will make mistakes, but they won't be deliberate and they won't be ones that don't present a consistent message to the partners."

Part of that commitment sees the introduction of professional services and ongoing support certification in Australia. Until now, resellers haven't had the chance to figure this ongoing revenue into their balance sheets, but according to new channels head Michael Alp, that's all about to change.

"One of the reasons we were possibly considered to be complex to deal with was that we were complex in our go-to-market structure, whereas now we are far more streamlined," Alp said. "So working with the direct sales is a lot easier as a channel partner and working with the channel group is also a lot easier."

Local partners will be selected based on the particular expertise they bring to EMC's technology, claimed Alp. For example, Alp's former integrator Tri-Point will be positioned around its ECO (EMC, Cisco and Oracle alliance partner) status; Dimension Data will focus on networking infrastructure and applications; and the likes of SecureData Group and EnStore will concentrate on backup and information management.

Although EMC claims around 80-90 per cent of its business is "touched" somewhere in the sales cycle by both its direct sales team and its partners, the number of accounts has been reduced to around 80. It's a significant move, given that the previous strategy was to assign whole industry verticals, such as banking or insurance, to single reps.

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