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Berzack said Extreme had been better about reaching out to eTribeca this year than in previous years, but to him, Extreme has its work cut out for it where market awareness is concerned. Extreme can't be the company that just offers "the right price to win the job" when VARs bring them opportunities, he argued.
"If I was sitting there as their chief strategist, I would be doing significant demand generation from the end-user community. Engage with marketing strategies, do severe, multi-faceted campaigns and pound away at these different markets," Berzack said. "[Extreme] is a nice-to-have. They fill a niche. They're not reaching out as aggressively as they could or should. They're under-resourced."
Tom McDougall, who heads Extreme's partner council, said that Extreme's top VARs have had several conversations with Rodriguez and that he's been receptive to concerns and clear and consistent in telling them his vision.
"Take education. We're kicking [butt] and taking names in some of the education markets," said McDougall, who is president and CEO of High Point Networks, a West Fargo, N.D.-based solution provider. "We heard from Extreme, 'We have a targeted approach and here is our go-to-market, and here is our strategy.' That's not something that's existed within Extreme before."
The brand recognition hurdle could definitely be easier to clear, McDougall admitted.
"I think it's very important we have an aligned mission, and that their channel resources are in lock-step with us," he said. "I feel as though we do have that most of the time, and I'm not a marketing expert. But from a marketing standpoint, could there be some kind of campaign, and after we could go into a customer and they say, 'You know, we've heard of you?' 'We're maybe not sure where, but we have heard of you?' Something to make enough of a pique of interest."
It's for those messages from partners that Rodriguez has one of his own: I hear you.
"Partners are not going to try to convince a customer on your behalf that you're the solution they should buy," Rodriguez said. "We, the manufacturer, have the responsibility to do the awareness generation."
Along with Extreme's technology and channel priorities, going forward, Rodriguez said he will look to strengthen Extreme's inbound and outbound OEM relationships for the market reach they can provide.
He's also continuing to make internal changes, including to bolster Extreme's executive team. Recent recruits include David Ginsburg, who was named to the newly created role of senior vice president of strategic marketing late last year. There's also Jim Judson, who this month was named Interim Chief Financial Officer as Extreme continues its search for a permanent CFO following Corey's early March departure from the company. And Edward Meyercord on March 9 was named independent board chairman, succeeding fomer chairman and Extreme co-founder Gordon Stitt. Stitt will remain on the board.
Above all, rest assured, Rodriguez said, that the channel and Extreme's market presence have his full attention.
"Extreme always believed in being on the leading edge and investing in R&D," he said. "We know we have to serve the marketing better and put the training in place, and we will be putting investments along those lines."