Belkin, the consumer and business networking, storage and electronics provider, is readying a major SMB market push, anchored by its newly acquired Linksys business and a new SMB-focused partner program.
Belkin's SMB offensive comes roughly seven months after the Playa Vista, Calif.-based company acquired Cisco's Home Networking Business, which included the Linksys line. And now that the dust from that deal has settled, Belkin says it's shaking Linksys of the primarily consumer-focused brand it developed under Cisco's rein and returning it instead to its SMB-focused roots.
"There are customers that, even though Linksys had exited this [SMB] space, are still asking for the products and are still affectionate toward the brand. That's where our strategy of Linksys in the SMB space comes in," said Ben Thacker, global vice president of Belkin's Business Division. Thacker said Belkin will remain committed to the Linksys consumer brand moving forward, but that it plans to "bring back" a purpose-built Linksys portfolio for the SMB market, as well.
Thacker said re-introducing Linksys to the SMB market complements Belkin's own drive to grow its business footprint.
"Most people, especially on the global side, look at Belkin as more of a retail-centric company," Thacker said. "But we have been in the B2B segment for 30 years, and we have been working with VAR partners and DMR partners for many, many years."
Thacker declined to give the size of Belkin's business division from a revenue standpoint, but said it is "statistically relevant" to Belkin's overall business.
"We're definitely in the double digits of in-house share, if you talk about the percentage of revenue and profit that we bring the Belkin international organization as a whole," Thacker said.
To grow Belkin's commercial footprint -- particularly in the SMB space -- Thacker plans to leverage its partners. Belkin's B2B unit sells 100 percent through its channel, which consists of roughly 4,000 solution providers in North America.
Although Belkin has a formal North American channel program, Thacker said it has been predominantly focused on Belkin's 75 or so top-tier partners. But by April 2014, Thacker said Belkin will roll out a new, SMB-focused partner program to formally house its thousands of smaller or so-called "breadth" partners, along with those from the legacy Linksys channel.
The new SMB program, Thacker said, will be modeled after Belkin's European partner program, including components such as deal registration, partner incentives, asset libraries and partner training resources.
"This is going to be a key focus for us in making sure that, as we roll our products out, we put our marketing focus on developing a great channel program," Thacker said.
NEXT: New Belkin, Linksys SMB Portfolio
The new Belkin SMB partner program will be complemented by a new SMB product portfolio, Belkin's Thacker told CRN.
The new products will be rolled out in a phased approach, with the first group consisting largely of infrastructure-focused products. These, Thacker said, will include a series of switches, ranging from five to 24 ports, along with Power-over-Ethernet switches. The first phase of products is expected to hit the market by February 2014.
The second phase of products, Thacker said, will focus predominately on wireless, ushering in new dual- and single-band wireless Access Points (APs), along with VPN and stackable routers that can accommodate up to 99 seats. Thacker said IP surveillance equipment will also be part of this second-phase launch.
These products will all be manageable by an upcoming Belkin and Linksys smart cloud solution.
"If you are using video surveillance or any of the VPN routers, you also have a cloud you can access to better manage all your Linksys equipment over that cloud," Thacker said.
The third phase of the new Belkin SMB portfolio will focus on what Thacker called "automated office" solutions, which will leverage the cloud to automate office functions, ranging from wireless access to the use of a coffee machine to lighting controls. These solutions are slated to launch in 2015.
"We're extremely happy with where we are going," Thacker said.
PUBLISHED OCT. 28, 2013