Treading carefully

Recent events at Fortinet and Trend Micro have turned the spotlight back on senior management changes in the channel.

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By  Andrew Seymour Published  September 14, 2008

Events at Fortinet and Trend Micro have turned the spotlight back on senior management changes in the channel this week as both vendors face up to the prospect of filling the personnel hole that has appeared in their regional operations.

The revolving door of the security and network channel has spun with considerable power already this year. Juniper and McAfee are two of the more notable outfits that have parted company with long-term regional managers since the first quarter, but it was always inevitable that they wouldn’t be the last.

As the EMEA bosses of Fortinet and Trend Micro are no doubt in the process of discovering, the challenge that confronts them is not just how to go about recruiting a successor, but what qualities to look for in a candidate that, when all said and done, will probably be responsible for running one of their fastest growing subsidiaries.

Unfortunately for them, it is not a task they can afford to dwell on given the obvious disadvantages of having a ship sailing rudderless during the final three months of the year.

Trend Micro will be a particularly interesting case to follow given outgoing MENA boss Justin Doo’s contribution to its expansion. He has skippered the Middle East subsidiary from day one, putting the foundations in place that have seen it flourish into a 20-strong operation.

Whoever picks up the ball when he walks out of the door next month will be under no illusions about the legacy they have to follow, which is why the assignment of selecting a capable successor carries added significance. As Trend Micro — and indeed other vendors with an active presence here for five or six years now — will need to acknowledge, the criteria that shapes their choice of regional director is evolving.

We are not talking about start-ups that have the luxury, if you can call it that, of staring at a blank canvas. Vendors such as Trend Micro now have established processes, partners and customers that govern the way they operate in the Middle East. Their aims and objectives will be different to what they were several years ago when they were still relatively new to the market.

Juniper showed the way earlier this year when it hired the experienced Samer Shaar, a former regional IBM stalwart, to get a grip of its Middle East business. It clearly recognised the importance of recruiting an individual with a comprehensive understanding of the regional landscape, an army of contacts and the ability to manage an organisation containing multiple staff.

I’m sure that Trend, and to an extent Fortinet, will be looking for an executive with an equally rounded CV because they will be expected to come in and evaluate the business, and instantly understand what needs to be done to take it forward.

It will also require an individual experienced in channel management and strategy because if there is one thing that resellers in the wider region still call for it is greater vendor investment on a local level.

A proficient regional manager will be able to spot exactly where additional investment is required and where it can afford to maintain the status quo.

Even hugely established vendors such as HP are looking at what improvements they can make in this respect. From November 1st, when its next fiscal year kicks in, HP plans to introduce a new regional cluster that will see Solutions Partner Organisation (SPO) managers appointed in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. That move is designed to ensure in-country teams prosper from enhanced local management attention.

As Trend and Fortinet ponder the more conventional aspects of recruitment, such as whether an internal or external appointment is preferable, they would do well to scrutinise the stage that their Middle East operations are at and in which direction they must travel with the expectations of the channel in mind. Perhaps that will have more of a bearing on their choice of candidate than they might initially have expected.

Have your say before it’s too late!

The Channel Middle East Confidence Survey will be online for just one more week…so hurry up and have your say now! We are inviting vendors, distributors, resellers and retailers from the Middle East to participate in the survey, which seeks to gauge the level of business confidence in the market ahead of the fourth quarter.

There are just 14 multi-choice questions to answer, which means the survey will take less than 5 minutes to complete. In doing so, you will help to increase the overall sample and therefore build a more accurate picture of the issues most concerning the channel right now.

Rest assured, your views won’t be wasted either because in our bumper October issue you’ll be able to see the results of the survey. That will give you an opportunity to measure how your expectations of the market compare with the overall consensus of your peers.

Go ahead and take the Channel Confidence Survey now by visiting www.itp.net/events/channelsurvey

It’s the only way to make your opinion count!

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