CA's Top Channel Executive Sets Goals, Priorities for 2006


Computer Associates' top channel executive put a formal stamp on several initiatives and practices that the global software powerhouse has been working on for some time this week in Las Vegas at CA World 2005, setting the tone for how it will engage, recruit and support partners for well into next year.

In doing so, James Hanley, senior vice president of worldwide partner sales, said his company has put a formal stake in the ground as to where it stands with third-party business allies. In an interview with VARBusiness, Hanley said CA has "the level set on exactly how we are going to market...important for the line in sand or point in time on how it is going to market. Now we are done with that part of our work. Now that we are, it gives us the ability to focus as a team on execution."

More blather from CA about its unwavering commitment to partners? Perhaps. But one senses that CA has learned some valuable lessons about introducing program after program with little to show for it. At least as far as Hanley is concerned, his company has a strategy in place that should produce results for it and its partners both, so long as execution in the field and inside down to the individual rep or salesperson level is not fumbled.

This week in Las Vegas, Hanley endeavored to showcase to partners where their opportunities lie working with CA and remind them of the solid team, programs and policies that the company has put in place. Among other things, he noted that CA has formally brought all partnering activities under one umbrella -- something it has tried before -- while deciding upon partner classifications and distinctions. That latter effort includes identifying different partner types and creating formal benefits, requirements and go-to-market strategies for each.

The latter is one of six key business partner priorities that Hanley said CA is focused on. The others include:

  • Better segmenting partners

  • Helping them with demand-generation activities

  • Improving partner readiness

  • Improving field engagements

  • And generating consistent revenue growth for all partners no matter the type, focus or geography
  • One thing CA formalized this week is the names and distinctions that it has given to partners. In the past, the company lavished the bulk of its attention on its enterprise allies. Now, however, it wants to create benefits that appeal to partners of all sizes. And it wants to build a consistent framework that can be used globally.

    With roughly 1,000 enterprise partners the world over, the company expects to see some changes within its base. Some smaller partners, especially those embracing multiple products in the CA technology portfolio, will move up while others to drop down. Instead of two classifications, CA is going forward with four: affiliate, premier, enterprise and alliance. Affiliates are expected to target SOHO customers and sell products at the lower end of the CA stack acquired through open distribution. Premier partners are expected to target small enterprises and sell more sophisticated products available through select distributors. Enterprise allies sell to customers of all sizes, but are believed to be able to best help CA increase sales by concentrating on advanced products obtained from "preferred" distributors and sold to midsize customers. Finally, CA's most advanced alliance partners are hoped to embrace the full CA product stack and target named accounts.

    The new framework is expected to help the more than 18,000 partners aligned with CA identify where they best fit in the company's global channel program, regardless of whether they sell security-management software, storage-management software or enterprise-systems management solutions.

    In conjunction with this effort, CA has established revenue targets and goals for partners, developed a services-training plan and increased sales training and joint marketing activities in the field. Still to be done: working out a revenue and licensing model for business partners who wish to use the company's products in their burgeoning managed-services businesses, among other things.

    Although much work remains to be done, some tangible results of its efforts are already visible. "Our global systems integrator business is up triple digits up," he said, adding that "OEM sales are up. As are sales through enterprise partners."

    The numbers are not yet large, he added, but moving in the right direction.