Computer Associates ends channel competition

ORLANDO, Fla. — In order to help avoid conflicts between its direct sales force and its channel partners, Computer Associates International Inc. has morphed its business model into a more channel-friendly one.

The Islandia, N.Y.-based

e-business management software vendor introduced on Monday its Channel-Preferred Program for the BrightStor brand of storage management and backup solutions.

According to CA executives, the program is designed to help drive the sales of BrightStor products through the firm’s reseller channel by providing financial incentives to CA’s direct sales force.

In a press conference, Russ Artzt, CA executive vice-president and co-founder, said that instead of having both direct sales reps and channel partners trying to call on a customer, members of CA’s direct sales force will now be compensated more if they sell through the channel than if they don’t.

“”That means that in the past, where they used to feel that they had to compete with a lot of our channel partners, they don’t have to do that,”” said Artzt, adding that it also works vice-versa. “”A lot of our channel partners who have wanted to make use of the resources of our direct sales force and our technical field organization can now do it freely. They know the direct sales force is compensated while they’re doing it, and they don’t feel like our sales guys are going to take their business away.””

Ira Simon, CA’s divisional vice-president of channel marketing, explained how the process would work if, for example, CA has an existing account that it manages through the direct sales force.

“”The direct sales guy that’s working on that account — as he does every day of the week — will then work with someone in (the channel) organization to engage the right channel partner to help on the assessment, the deployment, the services and the whole sale,”” he said.

Anthony Ferringno, chief technology officer of AlphaNet Solutions Inc., a solution provider in Cedar Knolls, N.J., who was one of the panelists at the storage briefing, said incentives drive behaviour. “”When you incent the direct sales force, when you incent the partner representatives and everyone gets paid based on closing business, everyone’s in the same boat together,”” he said.

In interview with Canadian journalists on Sunday, CA’s president and CEO Sanjay Kumar told Computer Dealer News that in order to relieve channel conflict, the company last year gave two of its executives specific responsibilities to handle VARs. The company’s vice-president and general manager of business storage, Mark Milford, was given the task of building a storage partner channel, for example. Meanwhile, Gad Tobaly, general manager of the firm’s direct sales organization, was commissioned to spend a year figuring out how to build a channel-neutral program that would not interfere with the direct sales force.

“”That’s a very complicated thing when you have a direct sales force,”” Kumar said. “”I took one of the best direct sales managers we had, put him in the channel and said, ‘You’ve got a year to figure out how we build the program’ — which he did.””

Kumar said CA reviewed the program in January, tweaked it in February, finalized it in March and announced it internally on Saturday.

At his opening keynote Sunday, Kumar also introduced a new brand management team which he said will change internally the way CA deals with its customers.

However, Simon said the firm will retain the same channel management structure and the relationships with reseller partners.

“”From a product management and brand development standpoint, we’ve created more focused groups,”” explained Simon. “”The units within CA are going to be focused entirely on developing the technology, positioning the technology and managing the brand. There will be a focused line of business around storage, around security, enterprise management.””

But in terms of the channel organization that faces the customer, said Simon, “”there are absolutely no changes.””

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