Phil Teague became Hitachi Data Systems’ ANZ industry and alliance solutions director in June 2013, and then turned the vendor around from a predominantly direct sales operation to now a majority-channel company.
I’ve always been channel-orientated. Prior to this role, I was general manager of channels at RSA and spent three to four years there rebuilding and structuring the channel business. Before that, I was at EMC where I played a number of roles, with the last one managing global strategic partner accounts within ANZ.
After 13 years at EMC and RSA, I went across to Hitachi Data Systems. I came here to rebuild our indirect partner business. I’ve made no bones about it and neither has my boss [ANZ general manager Neil Evans]; we didn’t have a very functional channel then. We wanted to transition to a partner-centric and solution-orientated business.
Prior to my time, Australian sales were around 20–25 percent indirect. At the close of last quarter we were around 50 percent indirect and I’d anticipate that when the books close for this quarter, we’ll be 50–60 percent. We now have a 100 percent indirect corporate sales team, which is our largest sales team nationally.
There’s currently 130 to 140 resellers, in platinum, gold, and silver levels. Last year I introduced a higher level of requirements to get to certain levels – not just around revenue but behaviour, commitment, and planning together.
We have two platinum partners and another moving up soon. At gold, there are 12 or 13, with a couple more moving up. Silver is increasing considerably, with Avnet playing a big part in that.
What’s created a lot of interest and prompted new partners come onboard is the white-label wholesale cloud through Avnet. We’re deliberately not selling this to end customers – we’ve put it there for our business partners to take on a monthly basis and provide their own service on top of it.
We’ve re-defined our True North partner program, with clear rewards and benefits for achieving targets. Business partner managers now proactively manage the channel, and have effective national coverage in each state.
Aside from our own product portfolio, we’ve leveraged our [technology] relationships – the likes of SAP, Symantec and CommVault. They support our converged solutions, contact management and mobility solutions. That’s created new opportunities for existing and new business partners.
Events and awards
We have a yearly Australian partner conference. That’s really important for re-establishing our presence in the Australian channel and recognising our partners. We introduced four awards. The conference gives us a forum to speak to partner executives, both formally and informally, and we have a bit of fun along the way too.
We’ve also initiated Partner Connect, where we run informal, regular sessions to give solution updates and socialise with partners. Similar events called Technical Expert Forums have also started, which are focused on business partners’ pre-sales and technical community. We want to have regular communications and relationship building with our business partners.