Poised for Battle

Anthony Byford took the helm at Westcon UK&I about six months ago and has come in with a clear mantra of making effective change. In this interview, Byford talks to David Dungay about his restructured team plans to take on the market and grow his strategic vendor’s market share.

Sitting in front of Byford I was keen to find out what he had achieved in is relatively short tenure.

Byford commented, “Coming in to the role Weston had the UC business in Crawley and the security division which sits in Slough. We had account managers going in to customers to talk about Checkpoint and then another one go in and talk about Avaya, we were doubling up everywhere. I don’t want two expensive people going in to the same customer. The customer essentially only wants one account manager so we have delivered that. Customer Experience is one of the big things people are talking about right now and I spent some time before coming into the role asking customers what kind of experience they have with Westcon.

I have reorganised the business to pull down that wall between Crawley and Slough so we are one Westcon, we don’t have a UC and Security division team now, we have one account manager per customer but they are supported by a huge product overlay team. For example, our Avaya team has ten people in it. That means any of our customers can have access to ten subject matter experts on Avaya.”

Byford has almost double the amount of product specialists than account managers which will help him deliver his united Westcon vision.

Byford hinted we could see some additional vendors added to the roster this year but essentially will continue to focus on a select few. Avaya, one of Westcon’s most important vendors is one area where Byford see’s further opportunities for partners.

“I have just made some big bets with Avaya as part of my restructure. We have 10 people dedicated Avaya here (Crawley) who can support Avaya customers with any questions or technical query, we also have another 10 sales people which live and breathe Avaya and it is literally 80% of their number they need to hit their targets. We’ve backed Avaya through Chapter 11 and they have backed us through some of our challenges too. Through the tough times though, the numbers weren’t really affected. We didn’t grow much but more importantly we didn’t decline either. We took a little bit more share from the marketplace.”

Nidal Abou-Ltaif made it clear at the latest Avaya roadshow that if you were loyal to Avaya then you will be fine. That’s exactly what I would have said. It’s like any relationship, you can’t just be in it for the good times. You have to take a bit of rough with the smooth. Avaya will invest in those loyal partners and give them opportunities. Ioan (MacRae) has been really clear about his remit for his sales guys, he will go straight to the enterprise with, or without, partners but pass opportunities back through resellers.

I have just made a £50k investment in Avaya technology which will go into our Leap Centre, partners can come in with their customers and play with all the latest Avaya kit and see how it all works. We’ll do some official days but partners can book times to come in through our booking system.”

One of the other key areas of investment for Byford this year is in his Global Deployment Solutions (GDS) Practice.

“I’m building a UK GDS UK team, which are completely aligned the current GDS team. When they are doing business with the big vendors then the local resource is there help them. The GDS team has been there for some time but what they haven’t been doing is realising the opportunity with some of the UK names. They don’t have the resources I have, so we are giving them access to my 49 specialists and some account managers.”

We can take partners into new international markets and break down the barriers to entry which typically sit around tax, customs, currencies and exchange rates etc. We can still manage that end to end, for a global brand that wants to procure products and have them delivered its perfect. It’s also good for that VAR that has ambitions beyond the UK, they can now become a global brand.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine