APC To Unveil New Channel Org That Gives Hardware R&D To Global Chief

Data center power protection and management company APC by Schneider Electric this week plans to unveil a reorganization of its channel business that puts research and development (R&D) and product responsibility under its global channels boss.

APC on Thursday is slated to formally introduce its new global IT channel organization, headed by Rob McKernan, senior vice president of global IT channels. Before January, McKernan, a 17-year veteran of APC's channel, was senior vice president for APC's IT business in North and South America.

In the past, partners would tell APC how it could better enhance its products, and those ideas were then passed elsewhere in the company to prioritize them into its R&D plans, McKernan said.

[Related: APC Beefs Up Partner Support, Adds New Incentives]

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"Now, I have full control of the path for products that our partners enjoy, and I'm really focusing on enhancement of the products," he said.

McKernan now oversees a global channel organization with more than 100,000 partners accounting for more than $2 billion in sales. APC receives about 64 percent of its North American revenue via channel partners -- a number that has been fairly consistent in the past couple of years.

The new global channels organization brings together several groups from within APC, including regional commercial sales and marketing teams for partners, its global channel marketing and channel program teams, product marketing, channel operations and the customer care center.

The biggest change, however, was bringing the product line and related R&D for APC's home and business network products into the global IT channel organization, McKernan said.

McKernan said he firmly believes that the changing channel and business landscape makes it imperative that channel partners be more involved in helping drive product, service and solution decisions.

"And the more we can bring channel partners into those conversations and those meetings, I think the better we'll be able to drive solutions and revenue streams both for us and our partners," he said.

It is a move strongly supported by partners.

It is often too easy for vendors to operate in silos when it comes to understanding what customers need next, or need the most, said Paul Cronin, senior vice president and partner at Atrion, a Warwick, R.I.-based solution provider and APC channel partner.

"Vendors who meet with us gain a perspective of customer needs," Cronin told CRN. "It helps in the delivery of new services."

Ashley Garrison, inside sales manager, Howard Technology, an Ellisville, Miss.-based solution provider and APC channel partner, said that bringing APC's R&D under the channel organization gives her company the chance to represent customers in helping develop new solutions.

"Channel requirements often differ from what vendors sell direct," Garrison told CRN. "Channel teams often spend much time at customer sites and leverage relationships with customers. When we walk in with a vendor rep, the rep may hear many things that are helpful to developing new solutions."