PeopleSoft woos debut distributors

Business applications vendor PeopleSoft will ramp up its Middle East reseller channel in the coming weeks to drive even deeper into specific vertical sectors and target geographies.

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By  Stuart Wilson Published  June 9, 2004

Business applications vendor PeopleSoft will ramp up its Middle East reseller channel in the coming weeks to drive even deeper into specific markets and target geographies. With just five Middle East resellers at present, PeopleSoft is now ready to roll out its global channel programme and take the regional total into double figures. New distribution partners, all set to put pen to paper on their official partner contracts, were invited to PeopleSoft’s recent Leadership Summit in Dubai. Some even brought along potential customers for the ride. Jeffrey Read, managing director and VP channel distribution group, said: “We are aggressively ramping up and recruiting new distributors across the Middle East. Neither PeopleSoft nor JD Edwards had a structured channel programme prior to joining forces. Last October we formed the channel distributor group to identify new distributors, recruit them, train them, support them and help us penetrate new markets. We now have dedicated channel account managers on the ground providing support to distributors.” Although referred to internally at PeopleSoft as distributors, these partners operate as a one-tier reseller sales channel responsible for selling solutions to customers. “Distributors own the responsibility for sales, implementation and support in markets where we do not drive a direct presence,” explains Read. “They can offer a geographic focus or a vertical industry focus where they have specific domain expertise.” “The Middle East is a market that is well structured for distributors to work in because of cultural reasons, geographical reasons and the nature of industry segments,” adds Read. “We have the right model at the right time because some of these markets have not been penetrated below the enterprise account level.” PeopleSoft is convinced that its package of channel benefits offers a compelling proposition to prospective partners in the region and is adamant that channel conflict will not be an issue. “We have put together very compelling terms for distributors,” says Read. “PeopleSoft worked with three different external agencies to review what our competitors were offering, understand what made their programmes good or bad, and make sure we put an offer on the table that could attract high calibre distributors.” “The way to minimize channel conflict is to maintain focus and not put too many partners in the same patch because it squeezes their margins and forces them out of business,” adds Read. “You can look at some of our competitors’ channels and see 50 partners in a particular region with only three of them actually making money. Working with a channel is all about trust and we are not planning a diamond dozen distributor model like some of our competitors. We do not believe it is a sustainable model for either vendor or distributor.” Last month, PeopleSoft and IBM struck a deal to extend their global alliance to allow Big Blue’s SMB channel to push servers pre-loaded with PeopleSoft applications. “We are working through IBM Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) to identify the right model for each theatre,” says Read. “The global announcement was couple of weeks ago and now we’re implementing it down to the next level.” While PeopleSoft’s partner package offers a strong proposition to partners, the vendor still needs to address elements of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) that exist in the minds of some channel partners and end users due to Oracle’s attempt to take control of its business applications rival. One Saudi Arabian distributor — currently preparing to sign its official partnership contract with PeopleSoft — admits this can still be a negative background factor during the sales cycle. “People need to sit down and talk with us to understand the resources, the commitment and the full breadth of the partner programme we offer,” concludes Read. “This can take them to a comfort level and help them realise that PeopleSoft is fully committed to the channel on a global scale, and has a comprehensive structure in place to support partners.”

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