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Zyxel’s David Soares: VARs Need More Help to Compete with e-Commerce

Q&A

…a VAR installs a network and something goes wrong in the network, and you have to phone the VAR and the VAR has to come out and fixes it for you, and you have downtime because of that. When a VAR is providing a network managed service, the chance of the network going down completely is greatly reduced because of the constant monitoring and maintaining for the customer, and also a lot of times the VAR gets alerted by our cloud software ahead of time that something’s wrong so that they can fix the problem for the customer ahead of time so the customer has minimum downtime. So in providing a lifeline to VARs, we’re also providing a better network to our customers.

CP: How are you using your prior experience with Netgear in your new role?

DS: At Netgear, we sold through the channel as well and I was there for 16 years. And in all of that time running channel I also ran product development as well when Netgear switched to the business unit structure in 2011. On the channel side, we saw it evolve and change over the years, and I learned a lot about the channel, but quite frankly, even from when I left Netgear the channel has evolved since then over the last three years. There’s more that needs to be done to help the channel even from what I learned at Netgear. It was really a process of understanding what’s the value that VARs are bringing over e-commerce, what’s the benefit e-commerce is bringing over VARs and how you address their needs and help them address their needs. So it was really just the years of experience with those two channels combined with all the new things that are happening and new things that need to be done. So it’s not just about what I learned with Netgear about the channel, but also the channel has moved on since then. It’s not just about your channel program. You have to deliver in your product as well. It’s a two-pronged approach. One is through products and the other is through your partner program.

CP: What are the biggest issues facing Zyxel and what will be your role in addressing them?

DS: At Zyxel, the biggest issue is how do we as a vendor best serve our channels to market, VARS, e-commerce and retail. As the world evolves, how do we best address their needs? And I think that’s where things were falling down a bit in how we address those needs. So my mission is to help our channel, especially the VARs, develop the services that they deliver to their customers. And in fact, we’ll have a drive to help our VARs do that. And so my measure of success is how well we succeed in doing that over the next year.

Part of what I want to achieve in the first half of next year is to recruit at least 30 new, solid MSPs. So these are organizations that used to be VARs that are now dedicated to purely providing network managed services along with the hardware to their customers. It’s about recruiting those by helping our channel partners evolve into MSPs. That’s the main mission and the main challenge for Zyxel. As the world changes, how do we evolve with that? And that’s how we’re doing it, we’re helping our channel to provide more services to their customers, which makes their customers’ lives a lot easier as well.

CP: What do you plan to accomplish during your first six months to a year in your new role?

DS: The new partner program with the two levels of discounts … and then the lease-financing that goes along with that … we’ll be launching it and it should be running in about two weeks on the website. And then next year, a measure of success is going to be the number of VARs that are using and selling our cloud network management services. We need to see that component of our business grow much faster than the traditional controller-based network management. And if that happens, then that’s an indicator that we’re being successful in helping the VARs to deliver network management.

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