The world of e-business has become an increasingly important focus for 3Com, with the launch of its new e-Network strategy last week by 3Com Australia's recently appointed managing director, Archie Wilson.
The strategy is based on providing networking solutions specifically designed for the e-commerce world. 3Com is using the strategy to build on its success in the market, focusing on high growth and high-value market segments.
The four key areas of focus are: larger enterprises with converged voice/ data/video solutions and 'intelligent' edge networking solutions; carriers and ISPs with wireless and remote access solutions; SMEs via 'business creation partnerships' with major carriers, ISPs and channel partners; and key vertical market segments including education and health solutions.
Wilson said two major driving forces are mobility of the workforce and the need for Internet dial-tone. 'These key business shifts underpin the e-Network strategy. The need for ubiquitous access, allowing people to work anytime, from anywhere, is the foundation of the company's new marketing push.'
3Com sells solely through the channel, and Wilson emphasises the vibrancy of this approach. 'I think it makes sense,' he said. 'We're very channel-centric here.' But he believes the role and the focus of the channel is changing, evolving away from simply providing products to giving them context by providing services to customers as well. He believes the result of this is that vendors now have to work with the channel in a different way.
Wilson said he was certainly looking at how 3Com's products were currently distributed. He said being new 'gives me a mandate to have a fresh look at the channel structure'. Plans for the future include the launch of a major 3Com partner program shortly - probably before Christmas. This will include having a tier system and recognising the different depths of relationship between 3Com and its partners. There will also be tiering based on product specialisation.
One recent program launch has been the EIP Business Partners initiative, which aims to provide networking solutions tailored to meet the specific needs of the education sector. These partners get exclusive benefits such as education sales leads, marketing support, access to special EIP product and service pricing and access to key decision-makers in educational institutions. Resellers who want to become EIP Business Partners need to have at least one 3Com MNS technical specialist and one 3Star sales specialist on staff.
As well as maintaining its position in existing markets, 3Com is aiming to become a force in what it refers to as 'contestable, high-growth markets'. These include convergence, LAN telephony, wireless/mobile computing, broadband, and Gigabit Ethernet switching.
Wilson is especially excited about wireless. He said 3Com sees wireless LAN as being a high-growth area and thinks it will take off when there is higher bandwidth and greater functionality. '3G I think will be the watershed period in wireless communications.' He also believes the completion of the move from analog to digital will have an impact. Wilson uses the term 'ubiquitous' as opposed to remote access - with the idea of being connected anytime, anywhere. He places a lot of emphasis on wireless and mobile access, and said that as the market matures and grows 3Com will be looking for bigger successes there.
Wilson certainly is a man with a vision. He believes that now the corporation has a clear global focus and direction it will be looking back at its successes in three years time.
He believes that it is going to be dictated by market forces as well as how well 3Com executes. Wilson said one of the measures of success will be that wireless data traffic exceeds wireless voice traffic and that 3Com establishes and maintains its number one position in that market segment. He also said being the number one provider in carrier access was also a success factor.