Computer Associates (CA) has scheduled a channel shakeup, including a probable cull of distributors from its business channel ranks and investment in a new national approach.
Chris Wilson, regional manager at CA, said an annual partner review concluded in January had found that its channel was over-distributed.
'We have spoken to all our distributors,' he said. 'It prevented a lot of distributors from investing more than they might, because they could get shopped around on.'
The vendor has four distributors -- Tech Pacific, Express Data, ACA Pacific, and Ingram Micro -- in its small-to-medium business and enterprise channel.
CA also has two distributors in its retail channel -- Adelaide's Saratoga Distribution and Tech Pacific, which has been a CA distributor for eight years but signed a contract for retail distribution four months ago.
However, although a cull of an unspecified number from the business channel was 'probable' it was still 'very much' up in the air, Wilson said.
CA was re-tendering for distributors and invited expressions of interest from all distributors, not just the four currently contracted.
'We are looking for consolidation, so it is most likely. However, we have a fairly rigorous process we are going through,' Wilson said. 'We haven't got any set number. What we do have is new products coming into the channel that are quite complex.'
The tendering process would seek to hire -- or re-hire -- distributors that best met CA's projected needs around new, complex products that needed a certain level of training and services capability, such as its eTrust range.
However, CA also sought partners that could offer the vendor something new. 'We don't want to restrict anybody from the process,' Wilson said. 'For example, some of our distributors focus Australia-wide, whereas some focus on capital cities.'
Results from the tender process were expected 1 May, he said.
'It's been a little bit delayed, because we have got a whole lot of new products coming to take into account,' Wilson said.
The January review had also suggested that CA should re-focus resources on its direct and channel sales forces.
'We needed to provide a better alignment between our direct sales force and our channel,' Wilson said.
CA had a large direct sales force but said ownership of deals had been sorted out. What the review suggested was that CA needed to build a better nationwide base for its business to build on.
He said that CA had one channel sales manager each in Queensland, NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia but may hire more.
'We'll probably be looking at a 50 percent increase in channel partner managers,' Wilson said.
Further, the vendor would introduce a new channel partner program on 1 April to reflect an increased focus on services, business development assistance for its partners and smaller business.
'We'll be working with people like Microsoft to deliver solutions specific to small business, even micro-business, and that is going to be a collaborative effort with our partners,' Wilson said.