IN THE HOT SEAT: Bringing ESP to the channel

IN THE HOT SEAT: Bringing ESP to the channel

The effervescent Vicki Bain brings a lot of experience to her new role at Computer Associates (CA). On top of her three years as Australian channel sales manager for CA, Bain has also amassed 18 years of experience in similar roles with Mitsui, Toshiba, Adobe and Network Associates.

What are your responsibilities and main focus in the new role?

Vicki Bain (VB): CA has five key partner programs - channel, alliance, education, service and technology. My responsibility is to look after the alliance partner program and the channel partner program.

My key focus in the short term is continuing to develop the relationship with CA franchising - I want to foster those business partner relationships that are doing great things for us.

It's an exciting time at CA because globally we are going from this large organisation with a direct sales focus to one that integrates with partners because that's what our customers are asking for. We've worked with partners in product silos in the past but this wasn't efficient so we brought in the partner group last April.

As a reseller you now have one contact rather than one person for storage, someone else for security and so on.

CA still gets about 50 per cent of its sales from mainframe products but you have said you are looking at the smaller end of the market. Why?

VB: We need a different strategy for both the SMB and SOHO spaces. Especially the SMB strategy - that is something I want to do because I think it's really important for the partner community.

CA sells direct and indirect. How is this broken down?

VB: We have group of products that we only sell through the channel - the more mature products such as eTrust antivirus, BrightStor backup and security products. We still work direct with larger companies but as soon as they place an order they have got to go back through a business partner.

We have rules of engagement where our direct sales force get paid more commission by making sure they push more products through the channel and that has been a major change for CA.

Our aim is have our enterprise and premier partners purchasing our products through distribution. So if Volante or Commander or Software Spectrum has an opportunity with a customer for antivirus they procure that product through distribution. We will provide pre-sales and marketing support.

Who does your distribution?

VB: We now have two broad-based distributors, Tech Pacific and Express Data, and a third, Saratoga in Adelaide, which focuses on consumer products such as antivirus and Pest Control spyware.

Are there any new CA initiatives for the channel?

VB: We are rolling out an enhanced version of the enterprise solution training program (ESP) in February for our enterprise products. Our channel enterprise program wasn't successful in the past because we were missing training and certification.

Are you looking for new channel partners?

VB: Yes, the goal is to run a recruitment drive during the next six to twelve months because we only have a couple of ESP partners signed up. The good part about this program is that you can sign up to be an ESP for security, storage, enterprise management or all of the above. It depends what makes sense to the business.

How do you support the channel?

VB: We mostly offer first-line technical support for all our products. Some first-line calls are taken in India - we have spent a lot of time training the staff. For enterprise products the first call goes to our office in Frenchs Forests [NSW].

We've got our Computer Associates Expo 2005 coming up in February. We do a day in Sydney [February 14] and a day in Melbourne [February 15]. We have key speakers coming out from the US as well as some of our customers coming along to give case study presentations. Our goal is to get 1000 people per city to attend. It's free to resellers, end-users and distributors.

How do you see CA progressing in 2005?

VB: Our security business is continuing to grow rapidly and, through our channel partners, we are in some great markets like security, storage and enterprise management.

We continue to grow our sales and channel team so that we can bring more ESPs on board with different levels of skill set.

Even if you halve [market growth estimates] what the analysts are saying we are in pretty good shape. I hope they are right because I might not be here in 12 months if I don't do a good job!

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