New Citrix Canada chief looks to fix High Touch model

Michael Murphy

New Citrix Canada country manager Michael Murphy

SAN FRANCISCO – Michael Murphy is on his 17th day as new Canadian country manager for Citrix System as he sits down with the Canadian channel press community at this week’s Citrix Summit event here. Okay, maybe he’s actually on his 18th day, depending on whether you define a pre-employment day spent getting to know his new workmates at the company’s Mississauga, Ont. Canadian headquarters.

Despite his short tenure in his current job, the executive (best known, of course, for spending more than a decade and a half at the helm of Symantec Canada) already has his first major initiative for the company’s partner community.

He’s got to refine the company’s controversial High Touch program, and make it more suited for Canada.

Introduced at the start of 2012, the High Touch program is one where Citrix owns the sales process – but Murphy stresses not the fulfillment process, that’s still 100 per cent channel – for a named account list of top enterprise customers. It’s a program that Murphy supports: there is a need for the company to be able to play orchestrator for the very largest of its customers, to make sure Citrix has “a deeper relationship” with all of its top customers, many of whom may work with multiple solution providers in various departments or on various projects.

Beyond the typical – and healthy – channel antsiness anytime any vendor does anything that even remotely looks like a move to take any portion of the business direct, Murphy cedes there is a problem with the way High Touch was initially rolled out in Canada. Put simply, there are just far too many companies on the company’s High Touch list.

“We need to revamp the High Touch threshold,” Murphy said. “We need to refine that down to a truly manageable number.”

What is that number? Murphy admits he doesn’t have all the data yet – but he said he believes it’s less than half of the current number, and possibly as low as just more than a quarter of it. He’s promised to get it fixed, and he said he’s committed to getting it done as quickly as possible, once he has all the feedback he needs to make the right decision.

“I only get one chance to make it right with them before they won’t believe me next time,” Murphy said.

Just a fortnight into his new role, Murphy’s got another channel-facing change in mind as well. He said he’s got a plan to increase the number of partner-facing resources on staff at Citrix in Canada. Currently, the company has just one person focused on managing channel relationships, largely focused on managing the company’s top partners, and Ingram Micro, its exclusive distie. But he feels that there’s another layer of smaller partners – its Silver and Registered tier partners – who would benefit from more direct attention from the software company, along with ongoing attention from distribution.

How many more resources are coming? “Well, that depends on my boss,” Murphy said with a smile.

He may be new in the role, but there are a lot of familiar faces as he goes out and meets the company’s partners.

Well, that’s not entirely true. There are a lot of familiar faces in the company’s channel ranks – Murphy estimates that about 50 per cent of the company’s VARs were also Symantec VARs, and there’s complete overlap between the two companies’ LAR communities. But while Murphy has been busy taking phone calls from those familiar partners, fielding their e-mails and LinkedIn requests, he’s focusing on Citrix VARs with which he does not have a previous relationship for his introductory tour of Canada.

His questions for partners: “What’s in your opportunity pipeline?” “What’s going in in your business?” “How can I help?” “What do you need from me?”