EMC Southern Africa is positioning itself as a vendor of choice for the channel through an aggressive business partner programme that drives most of its sales through a network of resellers, systems integrators and consulting partners.
Over the past seven years, EMC Southern Africa has transformed from a primarily direct sales organisation into a company that conducts nearly 80% of its business through the partner network. Just in the past two years, the local EMC subsidiary has doubled the amount of revenue it pushes through the channel every year.

EMC has embraced the channel as it has evolved from an enterprise storage vendor into a data management solutions firm with a product portfolio stretching from the small and medium enterprise (SME) market to the high-end corporate market, says Nick Christodoulou, regional channel manager at EMC Southern Africa. This has created a wealth of opportunities for the local channel.

“We’re a very different organisation today to the one we were six or seven years ago,” he adds.
“EMC is no longer just a storage vendor, but a company that offers a plethora of data management technologies including data storage, retention, security, digitisation, backup, archiving, and analytics. We depend heavily on the skills of our partners to bring this complex stack of technologies to market and to cover market segments we cannot reach ourselves.”

In the enterprise space, EMC Southern Africa benefits from working with resellers and integrators who can offer customers a complete solution by marrying its products with complementary offerings from other vendors. In addition, channel partners extend its reach into the SME market, giving smaller companies access to its products.

Christodoulou says that a focus on helping customers generate meaningful revenue from the EMC solution stack is the key to the success of the company’s channel strategy. In recent years, EMC has consolidated its partner base while growing channel revenues, essentially spreading more revenue among a smaller base of partners.

“This is producing a happy partner ecosystem,” he adds. “In addition, we have clear rules of engagement about where we will sell directly to customers. We have 23 key accounts that are designated as direct accounts, but even here we draw in the skills of our partners to deliver solutions.”

EMC Southern Africa has also streamlined its rebate structure and its partner certifications to make it an easy organisation to work with for its channel partners. Another point of differentiation for EMC is the effort in invests in incentivising presales staff at channel partners, who are often neglected by vendors.

Says Christodoulou: “Partners also get privileged access to our technology roadmaps, technical support, and other resources. Our thinking is that they are not just in a commercial relationship with us, but essentially act as an extension of our business. We plan to keep investing in our channel to ensure that we are a profitable partner for them to work with.”