After heading up the UK division of Dell's PartnerDirect programme since its inception, Andy Dow left the firm earlier this year. Andrew Wooden talks to his replacement Paul Harrison about the future of the programme and its successes so far...

Changing the channel

You recently took up the position of UK channel head following Andy Dow’s departure. What do you plan to do differently in terms of running Dell’s channel program?
I’m looking at it now and asking what are the opportunities and challenges for the next 12 months? There have been some major changes within Dell about the way we sell as an organisation. The key thing is how we synchronise our business and integrate our partners.

The division was set up just over a year ago, what lessons have been learned since then and have any operational changes been needed as a result of them?
The backdrop to everything going forward is that we now have this integrated P and L (profit and loss), Partner Direct is here to serve the partners and their segment and make sure we facilitate an acceleration of collaboration between our partners in the segments. That’s the fundamental change we’ve put in to place after the first 12 months.

How has uptake of the programme been? How many retailer/resellers have signed up?
Uptake has been good, we’ve been delighted with how ready the partners have been to engage with Dell. The Partner Portal, which is the partner’s first access point with Dell, has been very successful.

In the last few weeks since I’ve been in the position, I’ve met with a selection of partners. We have a wide variety of them, some specialising in storage, virtualisation and server consolidation.

We’ve got a good mix, what we need to make sure we do is ensure that, once the partners are on board, we manage that relationship and support them in terms of reaching the right levels of accreditation that they want.

How are you convincing more to sign up, and how many more do you want?
What we’re really doing is making sure that the partners that we have on board get the right level of support, the right level of engagement and that we are continuing to work with them in order to promote growth. A lot of the partners that we have on board may not be dedicated solely to Dell, but sell other manufacturers’ products as well.

What we need to do is help our partners progress into the right areas to support their business. I’m getting different feedback from a wide variety of partners that are keen to accelerate their accreditation. We’ve got other partners that are keen to move into our laptop offerings, or our desktop offerings. So the whole thing depends on where the partners want to go.

I don’t want to put a vanilla programme onto each partner. We need to build business cases and support programmes to meet the specific needs and aspirations of different partners.

What are the long terms plans for the channel business? Where do you see it in five years?

I can’t give specific figures, but what I can say is that we’ve all just returned from a sales conference in Madrid, where all of the Dell sales businesses were together. It was hosted by the VPs who lead our European organisation. From that it was clear that the channel is one of our top three priorities going forward. So there’s a massive amount of internal marketing, collaboration and education.

As I understand you’ve signed a deal with storage distributor vendor Hammer, will Dell be working with more distributors in the UK?
For storage we’re working with Hammer and for imaging we’re working with Micro P. PartnerDirect was built around giving the partner an ability to have a direct plug in with the manufacturer. We need to be watching the market, and depending what our partners expectations and requirements are as their needs evolve, if distributions needs to appear in our plan, then we would certainly look at that. I can’t say we’re definitely going to sign up X amount of distributors, that wouldn’t be correct at this stage.

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