EMC has given partners a glimpse into what its new channel strategy will be once Dell has acquired it, claiming a new-look, merged partner programme will be in place by the start of next year.
To begin with, EMC's Business Partner Programme and Dell's Partner Direct programme will remain in place in order to cause "minimal disruption" to partners and customers. But eventually - by 1 February 2017 - a new combined partner programme will be in place.
EMC broke the news to partners at the Global Partner Summit event, part of the EMC World event which is being held in Las Vegas this week.
Dell's acquisition of EMC is expected to close some time between now and October, with certain countries' regulatory approval and a shareholder vote left on the to-do list.
EMC's channel chief Gregg Ambulos told partners what will happen as soon as the deal closes, or "Day One" as it is referred to internally at each company.
"[When] the deal is signed, the ink is dry and we are ready to go, what can all of you expect?" he said. "Minimal changes and minimal disruption on Day One. Secondly - you're going to have access to the whole portfolio, as long as you're authorised to sell Dell and EMC. This will give you the ability to upsell and cross sell like you've never seen before.
"We're going to continue to have two separate partner programmes. Along those same lines, we're going to maintain separate deal-registration programmes. We are going to cross check those and address any conflicts head on. We're going to put processes in place to protect the integrity of the deal registration process. That's a glimpse into Day One."
He said more significant changes will take longer to materialise.
"Obviously there is a lot more work to do now, but you can expect our partner programme to come together into one next year," he said. "We'll have one common approach to deal registration to make sure you're protected. We'll offer robust incentives to drive cross-selling and net-new accounts.
"Finally, we're going to have a centralised global channel structure to ensure consistency worldwide.
"We're going to have field-based channel resources that will be aligned with our direct sales organisations. This is similar to the way in which EMC goes to market today."
EMC's EMEA channel boss Philippe Fosse told CRN that the new programme will be in place on 1 February 2017 to coincide with Dell's new fiscal year. EMC has recently overhauled its partner programme, with the Business Partner Programme coming into force last year after years of planning.
When asked if the February deadline means there will be enough time to fully integrate the two programmes, Fosse told CRN the similarities between them will make the process simple.
"I think it is going to be easier than what you think," he said. "The reason for that is that the feedback we got from the people who are already looking at the two programmes is that they are not conceptually very different. They all have thresholds, certification requirements, and both look to reward incremental business in new accounts. So I am not worried about our ability to merge the channel programmes. We think it is going to be easy and not complicated. We are going to take the best out of the two programmes."
On a global basis, about 40 per cent of Dell's business goes through partners, and 60 per cent of EMC's sales go through resellers. Both firms have had a strong history in selling direct, with Dell only having operated in the channel for about five years.
EMC's Ambulos acknowledged this during his speech to partners but insisted that the new company will look on the channel favourably.
"Here's something we have in common - we both began as direct-selling companies," he said. "Our founder coined the phrase ‘a pitbull would let go before an EMC [direct] sales rep'.
"And on the Dell side, Michael Dell literally wrote the book on direct selling. A best seller, by the way. It's called Direct From Dell.
"The direct model worked because we were pretty much one-product companies and all of our sales teams were subject-matter experts. They were trained from day one to control every aspect of the deal. This was our model - our way of life. And it worked! Money was flowing in.
"But you know something? The mark of true leadership is knowing that success can be your enemy if you become complacent. Our businesses began to shift and both companies realised we needed a change in selling models. We couldn't be experts in everything and we knew if we combined our strengths with all of yours, we don't have to. We began to transform our businesses.
"It was tough moving from direct to channel - we had our bumps in the road. In the early days, we were voted - by all of you, by the way - as the worst partnering organisation in the industry. With Dell, there was a lot of scepticism about if Dell could change. But if there's one thing I can honestly say, it is that we listen. Today, the channel is not just important, it is essential to our business models."
During a media Q&A session, Michael Dell was also keen to commit to the channel.
"In both companies we have a number of people who have very significant experience in the channel," he said. "One of the interesting things we have observed is that channel partners have already completed the integration. They're out there selling EMC, Dell and VMware as one solution. As you know, in the last six, seven or eight years, the channel has become an increasingly large part of the Dell business."
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