It's been an eventful few weeks for Fujitsu, following a top UK management overhaul, revelations it is in talks to sell off its PC business, and confirmation of UK job cuts. Tom Wright talked to its new head of UK&I product business, James Johnston, to find out where he is steering the business
With Kevin Matthews [UK sales director] leaving and Tom Roche [former head of UK&I product business]moving to a role in the manufacturing, utilities and services division, do you see yourself having to make drastic changes to the channel strategy at Fujitsu?
I think this is an evolution of a journey. Because of the way Fujitsu has operated historically, we have been a direct business - I think people have recognised that. The fundamentals that Kevin put in place have had a key influence on where we're going now, and my role is to refine and execute that plan. I've been very clear with some of the channel partners I've spoken to, Softcat for example, about what I want them to do and in my support for the channel business.
Will there be any changes to the way you work with partners?
Building and running a channel is an ongoing activity and needs to be constantly monitored. I think we could have done a better job of making sure we're growing that base organically, with a clear expectation of what those partners are doing.
A partner I spoke to at Canalys [Channels Forum] told me that they were very interested in helping us build our presence in insurance. We have a very limited footprint in insurance so I was delighted to hear that. This is not about my reducing and segmenting the cake; this is about how we grow that marketplace by having more partners focused on marketplaces in which historically Fujitsu would not have played.
Secondly, how do I continue to build that ecosystem to engage those partners into some of our direct accounts? You'll hear me talking more about indirect. Fujitsu has an indirect structure and I want to look to accelerate that. Many of the channel partners are really encouraged because the nature of how the market is developing [means] partners can support our direct ecosystem - that, for me, is the big opportunity.
Are you looking to increase the number of partners you work with?
The strategy that has been put in place is the right strategy, but we are however looking to increase our focus on a select group of partners.
Part of what we're doing around recruiting partners is identifying the gaps that are in our portfolio. My message to partners is: as we go through the next three to six months, I'm looking for them to clarify to me and my leadership team what role they want to play in our mutual success. Having a broad approach can sometimes divest how you operate as a business but I think having that focus will give us that level of increase in growth.
Fujitsu was going through a distribution review earlier this year, part of which saw Ingram and Arrow signed up for a further six months. Do you have any updates on this now that management has changed?
It would be remiss of me not to review our distribution strategy, but I have no plans to make any changes until I have had a chance to look at that in more detail. I will probably have a clearer view in two or three months' time, but it's about growing the business as opposed to recognising that only three partners are key to us. It may be three, it may be four. The Ingrams and the Tech Datas have ambitions with Fujitsu globally, which help me ensure that I am aligned with my European colleagues.
With Fujitsu confirming that it is considering selling its PC business to Lenovo, how do you see the PC sector in the UK?
It's a very important part of our business, in particular notebooks. Based on the past 12 months we've seen through distribution a 22 per cent increase in client computing device sales, a lot of which is attributed to our tablets and notebooks. The R726 [Fujitsu's detachable notebook/tablet] has been incredibly successful and we've seen a lot of organisations looking at that as a solution because of the way that their consumers are looking to try to leverage that technology.
At enterprise level we've seen a significant increase on Eternus [Fujitsu's storage product] at 42 per cent, so we've seen growth; I just want it to be faster.
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