Global technology provider, Dell, is considering the establishment of a distributor tier to help and support its interaction with partners in the A/NZ region.
"The Partner Direct program has been in place for around five years now. We have three levels of partnerships, which is registered partner, preferred partner and premier partner. We don't necessarily drive revenue through distribution today. All these partners deal directly with us.
"What we do with distribution is under review, both in Australia and NZ. So perhaps there will be more announcements in the future. Certainly this year we will make decisions about what to do," says Peter Murphy, MD at Dell NZ.
Dell has around 2000 resellers across both geographies, with around 40 per cent of them active at any point in time depending on the quarter.
Speaking to Reseller News Murphy states that the firm does have distribution agreements in place for products and solutions that Dell acquired, and which came with an existing channel pedigree. This includes the likes of SonicWall and Wyse.
"The benefits that we think a distributor can bring to us are a couple of things. In Australia, if you talk to some of the larger distributors, they would tell you that they have around 8,000 to 10,000 partners. Some of them are small and some large, but clearly, there is a large percentage of the market that we are not talking to. So reach is one of the things that has potential for improvement.
"Obviously distributors can provide credit, hold stock, and there are a variety of other value adds that they can bring that we don't necessarily have or offer to the same extent today. So yes there are a number of benefits to having a distributor, but in terms of who we would select - we are in the process of going through that," says Murphy.
Murphy adds that there are likely to be multiple distribution agreements across solution sets.
"There are certain distributors out there that focus on more transactional products, and there are those that focus on products that may require some deeper knowledge in how they are positioned, scoped and provided. So not all distributors are the same. To give us the right coverage we would probably need a couple of distributors to give us the reach.
"It remains to be seen whether these would be trans-Tasman in nature. Part of it has to do with the appetite of the distributor in both geographies. Some of the larger distis report from NZ into Australia, and others report directly to Singapore or elsewhere. The level or appetite for partnership is different among them," adds Murphy.
Dell A/NZ reflects its global nature in having four business units, including end-user computing, enterprise systems group, service storage and networking and software and services. In the region, most Dell partners are typically focused on the first three pillars, and not so much on the services end, according to Murphy.
Regardless of their focus areas, Dell continues to invest in training and enabling them.
"We have a variety of education offerings both online and instructor led. We have got some significant events. We have a partner sales summit, which is scheduled for this month, and where we will have roughly 100 different partners and members of the sales community attend that event for two days of intensive training.
"We have another four day event later in the year for the technical community. Around 120 engineers will attend for a technical deep dive," says Murphy.
Dell NZ has around 25 people in the country, with roughly the same number supporting operations from Australia. According to Murphy, growth in personnel will depend on the growth in solution sets, and will be done in combination with partners.
"We launched a programme in A/NZ about two months ago, where we are funding headcount for our partners. That means personnel are on their books, but I pay for them. Obviously that investment needs to come with a return. But if return is where we anticipate it to be and where we want it to be, I am sure we will quickly replicate that elsewhere," says Murphy.
Currently, three partners with three personnel are supported by Dell in A/NZ with the funding program.
"There are a number of partners that have a great deal of credibility and capability in the market. So I take a view of, is it easier for me to do it through partnership or have them as Dell badge? I guess it came down to a judgement call about which one would give me the best return, and so it is partly an investment which we fully expect to get a return upon.
"But it is also about supporting our partners to the fullest extent. It is about enabling them to be successful, which will have longer term benefits over and above just a raw return on investment. It builds a lot of good will. It is a demonstration to the partner community that I am deadly serious about partnership," says Murphy.
The parameters for funding personnel remains linked to the RoI that they can give the firm, though Murphy says specifics can not be shared at present.
Speaking about trends in the marketplace, Murphy shared his thoughts on the advent of the cloud and stressed on the need for partners to provide consulting services, to rid clients of ambiguity and help them gain the best from their investments.
"We make no apologies for wanting to be the best technology company out there in the marketplace. We have intentionally not built our own cloud platform. We want to power the cloud, we don't want to provide the cloud to people," he concludes.