Dell is trumpeting their 78 Net Promoter Score from Canadian partners as proof of their successful transition to a more regional coverage model. ChannelBuzz talked with two key Canadian channel partners about how today’s partnering model impacts their business.
TORONTO – At their annual Dell Canada Partner Summit here on Tuesday, Dell exhorted the channel partners in attendance to collaborate early and often with Dell, and improve their go-to-market alignment with the vendor. Wednesday, ChannelBuzz talked with two of Dell’s major Canadian partners about their relationship with the vendor, and how it is evolving in light of broader changes to the IT economy and Dell’s own channel strategy.
Dell’s move to a much more regional market coverage strategy has had a huge impact in the Canadian market, resulting in a Net Promoter Score [NPS] of 78 from Dell from the Canadian channel, a very high score that would not have even been conceivable several years back, when Dell still had significant channel conflict issues despite repeated company efforts to remedy them.
“The path we followed was a journey,” said Andre Valiquette, Dell Canada’s channel chief. “Four and a half years ago, we made the decision to go regional in our coverage, to double down on our partners, and to be much more partner-centric. A lot of partners are regional in nature. A few are multi-regional and a few are national. You have to have those regional connections, or you miss out on strong local partners. The new model allowed us to foster relationships at a much deeper level.”
These changes were complemented by broader developments.
“With the EMC merger, the saturation of revenue made all relationships better,” Valiquette said. “So has the growth of the cloud. We ourselves play in only two parts of the cloud. We need our partners to be the glue with the other providers. That means that they have a bigger seat at the table.”
Valiquette also noted the significance of the leadership changes in the last year within the Canadian organization.
“These changes all came from within,” he said. “I came from the core infrastructure side, to a channel role. There is alignment across every single leader. That’s why sales and account management are what’s working. It’s not whether there is conflict or not – it’s how you address it.
“We just made some coverage changes in Q3,” Valiquette added. “Now my field channel people wear two hats – the hat of the partner and the channel revenue of the field user organization. What has been added is another pillar for channel revenue alone tied to a region. We wanted something to create a bit more agility. This allows us to make sure that we always have coverage if we didn’t have a partner named. We are hoping that takes us to 80 NPS!”
Sal DeMasi is Director, Data Protection Solutions at Teknicor, which is based in Woodbridge in the Greater Toronto Area, and which just won the Shining Star award for the most all-in Dell partner in Canada.
“We have been Dell EMC only since Day One,” said DeMasi, who was employee number five at the company.
DeMasi emphasized the high degree of alignment between themselves and Dell.
“We see ourselves as a smaller version of Dell EMC,” he said. “A lot of the NPS score results come from the constant collaboration. We get regular updates, and people coming into our office all the time.”
This includes people from other Dell Technologies companies like VMware.
“We have direct lines of communication with the engineering teams for all the different verticals in the portfolio,” he said.
Emily Martin is President of Northern Micro, a venerable Canadian solution provider based in Ottawa with a strong emphasis on the Canadian federal business. They are now part of Converge, a Toronto-based company which has acquired 11 North American solution providers, to leverage their combined specializations.
“Ottawa is a very noisy market, and a very challenging place to operate,” she said. “For example. deal registration is difficult in Ottawa because of the government procurement process. Our relationship with Dell is definitely a people-driven thing, with many people dedicated to the partnership. That need for people with specialized knowledge about what the customer is trying to achieve is one of the little finesses that take a project from funded to successful.”
Martin cited the new AI Source List vehicle for government contracts as an area where Dell relationships bring value to them.
“Lots of small startup companies are involved there,” she noted. “Dell plays a role in bringing about introductions on multi-partner deals.”
“That’s an example of the need for agility,” Valiquette said.
Similarly, DeMasi said that the Dell relationship also expands their reach.
“Our home base is in Woodbridge, and we are a national solutions provider, but the partnership with Dell allows us to stretch to all parts of Canada,” he said. “Our Dell partnership was important there in making the government of Nunavut a customer.”
Last week, Dell made a major new solutions announcement with the Dell EMC PowerOne autonomous infrastructure. It unites PowerEdge compute, PowerMax storage, PowerSwitch networking and VMware virtualization into a single system, with a built-in intelligence engine that lets users choose an outcome, and have the system automatically create the workload to achieve it.
“I see that as a more modernized offering of what VBlock once was, bringing 3 great technologies into one,” DeMasi said. “We found that was always very welcoming. But I believe this is very customer specific. If you have a large infrastructure that is very bespoke, consisting of many point products, even from the same vendor, you have contract due dates all over the place. You need to find a balance. We’re really happy it is an option. Some customers are purposely gearing themselves up to co-terminate due dates so they can have a fresh look.”
“We are a big VBlock partner, and one of the few who still do deployment services,” Martin said. “What will be most interesting about this, since everything in government is about procurement, is how they will consume this. The government now has a cloud-first IT strategy, but getting that capability on-prem is critical to them for long term strategy. This gets that with a cloud-like consumption model.”