IN THE HOT SEAT: Digging up business with D-Link

IN THE HOT SEAT: Digging up business with D-Link

Graeme Reardon has worn many IT hats during his 12 years in Sydney. He has worked as the ISP/ASP integration manager for NEC's Nextep broadband division, as a developer for the content provider called Kidz.Net, and a similar posting for ISP AsiaOnline.

But despite this, his first taste of distribution came after working for Lloyd Products, tasked with developing national and international markets for the soft drink spritz.

Today, with three years under his belt at D-Link, the Melburnian helped launch a new partner program, that aims to get more in touch with partners (about 900 across A/NZ) and offer them meatier incentives.

How did your path lead you to D-Link?

Graeme Reardon (GR): Because I'd been dealing with broadband products and telcos and ISPs with NEC, and bringing them onto the Nextep platform, I got approached by D-Link to head up their fledgling broadband business. That was three-and-a-half years ago and now D-Link is the leading broadband CPE supplier in the country.

What's your current role at D-Link?

GR: As national sales manager, I have 15 people that report to me. I'm responsible for the entire sales operation of D-Link A/NZ and our region. On a day-to-day basis, I make sure we're complying with the legal requirements, work closely with the marketing team, and look after the channel.

Are there any new initiatives on the channel front?

GR: The latest one is the empower partner program, which was just launched to the reseller channel. We have had our networking solutions partner program (NSPP) for about five or six years now, so it was time for a refresh. We want to revitalise the reseller channel. We weren't marketing as well as we could be to our reseller base. So with the empower program there will be a lot more communication with partners.

There's a lot more benefits to authorised partners including co-op rebates (on top of rebates generally for product sales). It's a three-tier program now, whereas before it was single tier. Now there's additional benefits with things such as international guest speakers from D-Link, free attendance to road shows, and more workshops and training (which we've been focusing on a lot over the last few years).

We want to increase the education portion especially since the technology has become more complex. Wireless products, for example, are becoming more difficult and harder to understand as the new ratifications and certifications come out. We've gone from 802.11b to g to a - n is coming out and i is out.

As part of the empower program, we want to revitalise the reseller channel.

What product categories does D-Link go after?

GR: The broadband (or telco division) takes up a lot of my time. Another top vertical market is the education division. We are also heavily focused on broad-based distribution.

We have product in several categories including wireless, broadband, infrastructure (which covers switches and media converters and what we classify as the retail product set so things like USB hubs), and IP security (including IP cameras, firewalls and VPN products).

What is the hottest area within the product lines?

GR: Broadband brings in the majority of our business because we've been developing that area for some time - and that will continue to grow as we bring on new customers and bring out new products. Wireless has been the hot one for this current year. We are seeing tremendous growth in our wireless division (with our products sets). But the key one coming up now is IP security.

We have recently released a new range of firewall products and we have got a large range of IP security cameras, and we'll start to focus on vertical markets such as security companies.

We will also see much more of a takeoff in the digital home, which falls under the retail product sets. We have released our first digital home product, the DSM320 media player, which plays MP3s, movies and digital still photos. And soon there will be online content for that as well (which we have done in the US). This product has done very well in the channel as well as through retail, which is encouraging as we thought it might be a retail-only product.

In this area, we're seeing more of a convergence in the IT and CE space. If you look at our broadband and wireless products - we're starting to see a convergence of those. We just released a wireless ADSL router and 4-port switch all in the one. So we are starting to see more and more of that, and already the product has taken off.

We are seeing a lot more focus on product segments. As we release more digital home products, we will start talking to the likes of home audio specialists.

Given the buzz about wireless technology, what trends are playing out in this space?

GR: In the wireless arena, we are moving up in the value area. We are starting to spend a lot more time with higher end customers including mining companies, who want to have enterprise wireless equipment rather than a LAN solution. We will continue to release new product for this market. We just announced our new enterprise level g bridge. At the same time, we introduced a low-cost b router to gather both ends of the market. Now that the i standard is out, and security is not as big an issue, we are starting to see a lot more corporate customers starting to look at it as a viable alternative to their wired LANs.

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