Heads roll at 3Com

Blood is on the streets at 3Com following the vendor's decision late last month to sack seven members of its Melbourne operation, ARN has learned.

According to Australia and New Zealand managing director Gerhard Rumpff, the decision is part of a worldwide restructuring effort that will see operations streamlined in parallel with a fully revised market focus.

In effect, the sackings represent the fallout from the company's local logistics division that is slated for absorption into global operations. The company has also resolved to eliminate existing staff and infrastructure overlaps between 3Com and US Robotics (USR) - a wholly-owned subsidiary of 3Com -- in Australia, he said.

"We had a lot of duplication because of the two offices," he added.

Rumpff said that the situation was regrettable but views it as the inevitable result of necessary rationalisation on the local front. Australia is the last country to mesh the respective operations of 3Com and USR according to 3Com officials.

Rumpff rejected the suggestion that the layoffs reflect a shaky financial situation for the company.

He said the decision was timed to roughly coincide with the end of the company's financial year this July, by which time he is confident the company will report global revenue increases of up to 30 per cent over the previous financial year.

The company is "still growing and still hiring", Rumpff said, a fact supported by the recent appointment of two new sales directors to the company: David Higgins and Ray Whitfield.

Rumpff claims that 3Com is readying an all out attack on the SME, enterprise and carrier/service provider markets in Australia, but concedes the company is entering these areas on the back foot.

While 3Com has been very successful in the consumer market with sales of its modems and Palm Pilots "going gangbusters", it will have to fight harder for high-end networking business, Rumpff said.

But the company won't go it alone he admitted, recognising the need to strengthen ties with its existing channel partners as well as follow the example of Cisco and others by forging strategic agreements with systems integrators and professional services companies.

"We must expand in the partner area," Rumpff said, adding: "We are totally committed to the channel and will fulfil via our partners wherever possible."

As part of its revised market focus, 3Com is separating its product segments into four key areas: consumer and SOHO, SME, enterprise, and carrier, Rumpff said.

"We are moving away from a product focus to what we call 'served' markets," Rumpff said.