Distribution Round-Up

Distribution Round-Up

Amanda Giddins of Nortel

I had an interesting conversation last month with Graham Allen, VP of Alcatel. He told me that he was concerned over the number of products that distributors were taking on that competed with each other. It was a strategy in essence, according to Allen, that stifled competition since the distributors in question had a set of resellers for each product and ‘nether the twain should meet’.

It’s an interesting observation and I see where he is coming from although I tend, as I said to him at the time, to be a tad cynical about his arguments. My cynicism is based on having, in a previous life, worked for both a couple of PBX vendors and a distributor.

As a PBX vendor sales manager I was under serious pressure to deliver the numbers every month, quarter and year – no matter how well I beat target last

month/quarter I was expected to come up with the goods this month. I well remember being told by a board director in the last month of the year to “stuff the distributors with so much stock that he could see it overflowing on the pavement as he drove by in the morning”. I duly did the stuffing and we ended up about 110% of a ridiculously high target. I banked the bonus. Next month I did 75% of target and got the rollocking of my life and was told I had let the PLC board down.

75%! That was frigging amazing considering my distributors had just shifted the last pallet of our gear off the drive and into the warehouse. To no avail I defended my corner. Suffice to say that I was still there two years later and reporting in to my third change of board director.

Are you telling me that does not still happen today? No you’re not are you; for after said PBX vendor I went to work as SD of a distributor where I was learning a new meaning of the term ‘stock options’. Look, we all know, even if we only did GCSE Economics, that the first rule of logistics in our business is that ‘stock is for somebody else’. It ain’t no use in our cupboards is it?

So, you fill up one distributor and you move on to the next one? As a distributor we had vendor after vendor walking through our door asking us to take on their product so it’s no use complaining that distributors have ‘multi-vendor’ strategies when as a vendor you are adding to that so called problem is it?

OK, with that said and off my chest let’s talk to a vendor with more than one distributor in the UK – Nortel.

Amanda Giddins, Nortel’s Director of Distribution Business, Enterprise, EMEA says her company has a clearly defined go-to-market strategy with its distribution partners in UK and Europe. “This is to ensure we align new and existing resellers to those distributors that offer the most value in servicing our Enterprise and SMB business for voice, data and converged applications. We work closely with our lead distributors who are strong in their own market segment; Crane for mid-tier enterprise, SMB voice and applications; Westcon for converged voice and data; Clarity for security and data infrastructure; and Azlan for SMB data networking.” We seem to be talking sense here n’est ce pas? Giddins continues, “With the huge margin pressure on all channel partners, Nortel is selective in its recruitment focus, we value our channel partners and encourage additional profit margin incentives to grow the business. In 2006, for distributors we introduced our Recruit & Reward programme, providing distributors with a growth margin on driving incremental reseller business. For our SMB Business Partners, we introduced a cross-portfolio selling incentive, Building Blocks, whereby resellers can make an additional 15% on top of their existing sell through on Nortel solutions.

“The distribution landscape in 2007 will continue to consolidate; I expect to see increased joint partnership or acquisition amongst the leading distributors. Many are developing capabilities to offer more value-added services, higher margin and higher-touch sales models, a very difficult balance to move from their current business model to one of increased investment and longer return. Gone are the days of just moving boxes and having a great logistics service, Distributors are skilling up with solutions teams offering pre and post-sales capabilities for unified communications and converged applications offerings. Nortel is investing heavily in developing the skills of our channel partners for the future.”

So there you have it from the horse’s mouth, ‘Gone are the days of just moving boxes.’ With Giddins mentioning Crane why not make them the next point of call at the start of the distribution activity round-up.

 

Crane Telecommunications:

In 2007, a major drive for the Crane Avaya team will be channel education. The team is looking forward to some exciting new products and services from Avaya including Customer Interaction Express (CIE), Communication Manager 4, IP Office 4.0 and the latest release of Quick Edition and Crane will soon be launching new training initiatives and events to support them. A range of new product collateral is planned as well as a brand new Crane Avaya web site. Crane Avaya will build on the successes of last year by holding another Avaya Reseller Conference which proved extremely popular and educational and of course, 2007 will continue their legendary reseller incentives.

Crane marketing manager Faith Wheller says events will include Crane hosted sales and engineering forums as well as Mitel sales and marketing events, culminating in the Mitel Annual VIP Forum.

Wheller adds, “The Crane-Samsung Business unit will continue to run their incentive that rewards Resellers with a range of quality Samsung products, from MP3 players to 50-inch Plasma screens, against sales of the OfficeServ portfolio.

“As the Samsung business continues to grow Crane will be actively promoting its range of Professional Services across all Business Units including, Pre-staging, installation, maintenance and project management to the channel. By utilising these services Resellers can extend their geographical coverage, provide out-of-hours support and manage seasonal peaks. When combining these services with the awardwinning Crane vendor product portfolio Resellers have a truly compelling and competitive proposition

“In 2007 Crane Nortel will have a much stronger focus on SMBs. Supported by Nortel programmes such as Building Blocks and the BCM Fast Track programme, Crane will continue to create tailor-made campaigns which benefit their Resellers, The value-added distributor will launch their data portfolio designed for SMBs, that complements BCM and shares a common management interface across the whole range.

“At the Enterprise end, Crane Nortel will introduce the Mid Market Starter Packages targeted at 100-User CS1K partners and continue to promote the Nortel alliance with Microsoft.

“Crane Avaya will continue with their legendary incentive programmes with an announcement on a future sporting event. In March Crane will hold their annual conference for Resellers which will give them an informed view on future products and applications from Avaya such as the Customer Interaction Express (CIE), Communication Manager 4 software release, IP Office 4.0 and the Quick Edition 3.1 software, as well as the opportunity to mix with elite of the Channel!”

Crane will be re-launching their popular IP Office and Multi-vantage Express ‘Tell Me How” guides completely revised and refreshed. Crane will also be pushing their Converged Solutions division on new and existing vendors such as Trapeze, Spectrum and Spectralink.

 

Computerlinks

Carly Stevenson, product manager at Computerlinks (formerly trading as Unipalm) says although her company is best known for the value-add they provide around security vendors such as Checkpoint, Nokia and Websense, they see IT infrastructure and convergence two of their fastest growing areas in 2007.

“Computerlinks last year moved further towards this area by signing the market leader in IP PBX extensions for the SME Sub 100 market in Western Europe, Swyx. According to MZA Swyx has overtaken Cisco, Avaya and Siemens in this area and expects Swyx to continue its year on year growth in 2007. The unique opportunity we can provide resellers by our partnership with Swyx is a software-based solution, which works like any other software application. For Computerlinks it is key to providing a solution that enables voice as an application and integrates seamlessly with existing IT infrastructure. This is a solution that our reseller partners can provide to their customers VoIPenabling their network, without having to learn and invest in a completely new skill set.

“Coupled with other leading IT infrastructure and convergence vendors such as Aruba for secure wireless networks, Packeteer for WAN optimisation, and Citrix for access infrastructure and application delivery, Computerlinks can provide solutions to your customers real business issues such as the need to provide users with multiple collaboration services direct to the desktop allowing users to optimise their workflow and communicate how they want. This addresses an organisation’s need to securely run voice (or future-proof for running voice) over wireless LAN and to integrate its telephone system with its core business processes enabling productivity gains and improved customer services.”

 

Dacon

“2006 was a very successful year for Dacon” says Roy Strutt, Managing Director at Dacon. “We overcame an interesting challenge at the start of the year, caused by the Buncefield oil fires, which, being very close to our Hemel Hempstead headquarters, had a major impact on us. We’re very proud of how hard everyone at Dacon has worked to ensure our customers were not affected. We also completed an MBO last year from our former parent, Cognitronics, giving us a greater flexibility and the ability to offer our broadest range of best-of-breed contact solutions yet, into our reseller base – notably BT Global Services.

“Our close partnership with BT Global Services continues to bear fruit and we expect a significant amount of activity in the multi-channel contact centre arena through BT as this year progresses. We are also seeing a far greater move in the market-place towards the utilisation of multi-channel contact solutions and the greater efficiencies which can be gained from organisations providing ‘self-service’. The increasing use of the Internet has been a great driver of this. Most of us now go on online as a first point of reference when gathering information and then use web facilities in the hope of getting a faster and more efficient service. In many cases this suits both the customer and the companies that offer these facilities, enabling customers to find information quickly and easily, while organisations save a small fortune in the process.

Roy Strutt, Managing Director, Dacon www.dacon.co.uk
 

“As the market for multi-channel contact centres and self-service continues to grow, we’re not only seeing more sophisticated products but also increasingly sophisticated buyers, with a greater level of understanding as to what their requirements are and what the capabilities of their contact centres need to be. Working with these types of buyers is more challenging and ultimately more rewarding when you can see the significant benefits provided to their business.”

 

Hugh Symons

Marios Ktisti, Commercial Product Manager, Hugh Symons Telecom believes there has been much confusion within the market in relation to the term ‘convergence’, understanding convergent products and solutions and their true commercial benefits.

“Convergence has also been interpreted as anything from simply fixed and mobile services on the same bill, right through to complete voice and data integration.

“We take the approach that convergence simply uses the latest technologies, whatever they may be, to simplify business practices for true commercial benefit. For example, using the latest Nokia WLAN/GSM/SIP phones as part of the SIPtrix IP PBX solution.

“Convergent technology crosses all traditional channels, fixed line, PBX, IT, cellular, and with the traditional reseller typically specialising in their own chosen field, they will need to change to address convergence.

“As technology evolves, additional business benefits are derived, necessitating an even greater need for resellers to embrace the different technologies and new areas of specialism.”

Ktisti sees fixed mobile to dominate the 2007 agenda, “According to a recent Avaya global user survey, 60% of mobile phone calls are made from within a building. Therefore field-based staff with a Nokia WLAN/GSM/SIP phone would continue to use it out on the road as normal, but when back in their wireless office environment, the handset seamlessly becomes part of the telephone system, with its own extension number.

“With the handset now part of the telephone system, the business benefits from the best least cost routing. Additionally field-based staff no longer need a desk-based telephone, saving on the hardware, cabling and maintenance costs.

“Convergence is no longer hype. Hugh Symons Telecom believe that all reseller types can make upfront and ongoing margin with the right support, education, portfolio and services; all of which are already in place and being utilised by a number of our resellers with the commercial benefits being enjoyed by the customer.”

 
Icon

Icon is the leading UK distributor for the VoIP PBX Televantage, the Kirk DECT system and the unified messaging solutions from Message manager.

Marketing manager Ray Pitchforth says these products sit alongside a range of complementary products in a portfolio which is clearly aimed at “maintaining Icon’s position as a solutions-based distributor in the converged VoIP market-place.”

Underpinning its role as a solutions-based distributor is its in-house technical support team. The support includes dealer training in the technologies and a network of account managers who act as solution and marketing consultants for dealers.

“The next 12 months will be an exciting time for Icon as it takes on a new principal and pushes forward with developments of existing distributed products. Icon is launching the Fusion range of alarm and messaging products in the UK. These offer instant alarm notification via DECT and email. Icon also sees great opportunity in 2007 for its VoIP products. It expects that the strengthening trend for companies to implement IP telephony across the office LAN will open up opportunities for its Kirk and TeleVantage products. Icon is already seeing growth in FoIP (Fax over IP) in the channel. With the Kirk VoIP solution Icon sees opportunities arising from companies setting up comms services for remote offices using Kirk IP DECT servers and continued growth for this solution in the CISCO reseller market-place.”

 

Magirus

Magirus is one of Europe’s largest IT systems and software distributors. Privately-owned with UK headquarters in Bracknell, Berkshire, the company has an international distribution network with 24 offices in over 14 countries across Europe, serving more than 150 active resellers in the UK. The company has group revenues of approximately 700 million euros – with the UK representing the largest market outside Germany.

With over 50 employees in the UK, Magirus provides a portfolio of integrated IT solutions encompassing hardware, software and services to resellers serving small to large-sized enterprises. These include: enterprise servers; storage; intelligent network; middleware; groupware; IT management; security; information lifecycle management; and virtualisation. Magirus is a leading partner of: IBM; EMC; VMware; Vizioncore; DataCore; PlateSpin; Redhat; PolyServe and Microsoft.

It has a ‘consultative distribution’ approach from strategic business planning to marketing support – enabling resellers to drive growth, new business and greater profitability. Magirus’s account managers consult with resellers on their

Andrew Binding of Magirus

business objectives and work together to develop joint business plans to achieve them. For example, it can be supporting resellers, with market knowledge, initial sales support, training and lead generation to enter a new business area.

Commenting on what they see as hot products and applications for 2007, Andrew Binding, managing director of Magirus in the UK says, “Security has increased in prominence however it has now reached a point where businesses have to consider it as a company-wide issue with a cradle to grave solution rather than a departmental, silo’d approach. The integration of existing storage and security solutions will be critical in 2007 as vendors move to consolidate their solution portfolios.

“Also, compliance for different vertical industries is coming more to the fore as companies have to satisfy these various and often complex requirements. Security issues will still dominate the landscape for 2007 and the partners with the right skills to solve the business needs of their customers will be the ones to benefit from these new opportunities.”

IDC has reported the 12th consecutive quarter of year-over-year growth in the third quarter of 2006 for the worldwide storage software market with revenues of $2.5bn. With such growth, Magirus is bullish about opportunities in 2007 for UK resellers capable of providing total storage solutions to meet the broader needs of the business rather than providing single products.

 

MTV Telecom

Distributor MTV Telecom say that their resellers should be looking forward to the prospect of selling the latest generation of systems from their PBX vendor partners this quarter.

Newly appointed Sales Director Siobhan Morey sees a number of opportunities ahead for her channel partners.

“Avaya one-X Quick Edition which was launched at the end of 2006 is a feature-rich system for smaller users wanting to deploy applications more sophisticated than the ‘standard’ small PBX products have to offer whilst the new Avaya IP Office 4.0 is a very exciting new prospect indeed.”

Morey sees the new features of IP Office such as SIP trunks and Enhanced Small Community Networking which provides hot desking across network, distributed groups being real business winners for the product and has arranged a number of training courses for sales and technical people to get up to speed with the system.

“We also have the new Panasonic TDE system ready to go to market. This is the first IP PBX from the company and with their legendary reputation for getting product releases right first time resellers will be confident their customers can look forward

Andrew Binding of Magirus

to another great product from Panasonic.”

Morey is also conscious of the growing market for applications and in particular wireless connectivity and the opportunity it affords her resellers.

“The recently introduced Siemens HiPath 2000 is just a perfect system for users wishing to integrate Wi-Fi with a strong brand telephone system. Siemens own HiPath Wireless applications, introduced in 2006, have been scaled down from their enterprise origins to become far more affordable to the SME and now represent great value as well as providing good margins to resellers looking beyond the PBX for value-added, feature-rich sales that further lock in their customers.”

 

Nessco

Marketing Manager Caroline Merson says that in 2007, Nessco will continue to focus on the Mitel portfolio of products with particular emphasis on new releases and applications for resellers in 2007.

“Nessco will also continue to run with their current monthly and quarterly incentives for existing resellers. As part of their recruitment programme, Nessco have developed a unique reseller accreditation programme called, ‘Accelerate’ which offers dedicated support, discounted training, financial assistance and funding to new resellers committed to selling Mitel solutions and applications. The programme is divided into three accredited tiers; Silver, Gold and Platinum – full details will be promoted to resellers throughout the year.

“We are also on the look-out to recruit new resellers for NEC Philips Unified Solutions and RAD in order to sustain the level of success experienced in 2006.

“Nessco has witnessed a ‘boom’ in IP sales recently with a number of resellers performing far better than expected. Nessco are also in the process of evaluating

Caroline Merson – pictured at a recent reseller race day.
opportunities for SIP and Hosted Solutions to determine whether to partner with a provider or host their own solution.”
 

Nimans

Julian Niman says his company continues to broaden its systems portfolio with traditional hybrid and IP solutions enhancing its reputation as one of the UK’s largest telecommunications and data distribution specialists where structured cabling solutions and all ancillary items form part of an extensive product range.

“Nimans works with six major phone systems manufacturers – Avaya, Ericsson, Mitel, NEC, Panasonic and Siemens and is also looking to encourage dealers to broaden their existing portfolios. They can achieve this by offering more bundled products such as cordless headsets with systems so that they become complete one-stop shops of telecoms solutions for their customers.

“As the largest distributor of headsets outside of America, Nimans is experiencing significant sales growth in the office sector compared with the virtually static call centre market as headsets near saturation point. In addition, ancillary IP products to support the latest systems such as more IP DECT phones and more VOIP-enabled headsets are also being generated.”

With regards to hot products and applications for 2007 Niman says he is working with vendors to bring to market the next wave of IP products, Siobhan Morey of MTV Telecom in addition to existing offerings such as Avaya’s Quick Edition and Siemens’ Biz IP. “Manufacturers are also introducing cordless headsets with an electronic hook switch that cancels the need for a traditional handset lifter. These are currently available for Avaya and Siemens systems, with more expected to follow.”

 

Rocom

Recently acquired by AT Communications Group plc, Rocom has now realigned its channel strategy and is now 100% reseller focussed as Sales & Marketing Director Phil Hambly explains.

“A true value-added distributor, Rocom has developed a unique support wrap around our core distribution function. From a £5m stock holding we provide next working day delivery for all the major system brands including Siemens, Mitel, Ericsson, Panasonic, Samsung and NEC all of which are brand managed by telephone and fieldbased specialists, backed up by an in-house technical support hotline.

“Rocom is also able to provide the broadest range of peripherals including handsets, headsets, call recording, audio conferencing, faxes / MFCs and more from all the leading manufacturers. We also supply high margin products to its reseller base under its own Fortune brand.

“What makes Rocom different is our ability to truly provide a single touch point for resellers requiring a complete service: Rocom’s network division was recently awarded BT’s ‘Distributor of the year Award’ and provides network solutions from BT, COLT, T-Liason and SiNet (our own recently launched hosted VoIP solution); Rocom’s highly successful leasing operation provides a cost-effective method of funding to resellers for system, equipment and other capital spend purchases, including fleet vehicles; but perhaps most notable of all is its link to Servassure – the Group’s Service Company – with more than 150 engineers available as an outsourced resource to support its reseller base.”

In terms of future development, Rocom already provides voice, converged and hosted solutions and is now building its own data division to support the increasing number of voice resellers wishing to migrate into data. Beyond this Rocom sees partnership and collaboration as key business drivers for 2007.

Hambly, “It is clear that convergence, BT’s 21CN initiative and the increasing pace of technological change are driving the need for resellers to up-skill or partner. Rocom aims to be at the forefront of reseller support during this transition.

“Rocom’s Dealer Support Charter will be available on our web site by the end of March 2007. Shown will be Rocom’s various reseller benefits including its lead generation programme; its awards and incentives activity; its training support calendar, and its marketing support capability using its own award-winning design studio and New Media division. Additionally Rocom’s 2007 Reseller Portfolio will be available this month.”

 

Westcon

Westcon is a bigger company these days so to get an update requires quite a few phone calls: Neil Moulton, Head of Voice Sales, Westcon Group UK says he has seen a significant increase in sales and interest for IP-Telephony in the SMB sector during 2006.

“I would predict that 2007 will see an increase in this trend. All the major vendors have introduced or improved their product and service offerings to the SMB market – end-users are now spoilt for choice with Nortel BCM50, Mitel CXI and Cisco Call Manager Express.

“For resellers targeting SMBs with IPTelephony, we are seeing a growing application attach rate in the hospitality and business service markets and also from businesses looking to establish virtual call centres. SIP-based peer-topeer solutions such as Avaya one-X Quick Edition is set to grow as it offers rich functionality for the end-user and quick set-up for the reseller.

“In 2007, I would also expect to see further consolidation in our industry between vendors, distributors and reseller channels offering distinct convergence, security and mobility today but who are responding to changing end-customer behaviours and business needs.”

Dawn Fenton, Head of MobilityPoint at Westcon says that at any one time there are possibly hundreds of vendor promotions and incentives available to a reseller.

“It is hard to keep track of them all, and especially to work out the incentives that are of particular interest. We have created a portal as part of our VoicePoint programme simply called ‘Bulletin’ – which offers our resellers a single point of access to information on vendor promotions, incentives, new and end-of-life products. As a result, it is now much easier to search by vendor or product type – plus the information can be printed in a clear format ready for use by reseller sales teams.

“We’re looking forward to supporting all the key vendor incentive programmes in 2007, and making sure Westcon resellers get the most out of them, such as the Mitel ski and sun holidays promotions.

“Mobility solutions offer a great opportunity for our resellers in 2007. With the recent launch of our Nokia E-Series secure mobility proposition bundled with a host of IP telephony and security applications, Westcon is adopting a leadership position in this high growth market. We will soon be able to offer the same level of enterprise telephony features and functionality on the Nokia handsets in conjunction with Nortel telephony solutions as we currently offer with Avaya, Cisco and Alcatel. Deployment of telephony over WLAN also offers a significant upsell opportunity for VARs, Systems Integrators and vertically focussed WLAN solutions providers to revisit their clients’ network infrastructure in order to validate capability and capacity to support these types of deployments from a QoS perspective. Westcon are already engaged with a number of specialist channel partners who see the exciting incremental service and product revenue opportunities this represents.”

 
 Crane Telecommunications www.crantel.co.uk
 Computerlinks www.computerlinks.co.uk
 Dacon www.dacon.co.uk
 Hugh Symons Telecom www.hughsymonstelecom.co.uk
 Icon www.icon-plc.co.uk
 Magirus www.magirus.com
 MTV Telecom www.mtvteleco.co.uk
 Nessco www.nessco.co.uk
 Nimans www.nimans.net
 Nortel www.nortel.com
 Rocom www.rocom.co.uk
 Westcon www.westcon.co.uk

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