Tech Access finds its range in MENA

Value added distributor Tech Access has finally been confirmed as an Oracle VAD for the MENA region. The move is just one part of a wider plan that involves a radical step-up in the company’s go-to-market strategy.

Tags: NetAppOracle CorporationSUN GroupSaudi ArabiaSymantec CorporationTech AccessUnited Arab Emirates
  • E-Mail
Tech Access finds its range in MENA
By  Andrew Seymour Published  October 28, 2010

Chris Cornelius has settled pretty quickly into his new role of senior VP sales and support at Tech Access. But then you wouldn’t expect anything less given his familiarity with the Sun Microsystems distribution specialist.

Cornelius ran Sun’s MENA business for more than a decade and was at the helm when the server vendor originally appointed Tech Access as its sole channel development provider (CDP) back in 2001.

When Cornelius decided against moving across to Oracle earlier this year following its acquisition of Sun, the offer of joining a management team he knows inside-out was not something he felt he could turn down.

But any suggestion he might be taking things easy after switching from the vendor side of the business to the channel couldn’t be further from the truth. Cornelius is overseeing some major changes at the Dubai-based distributor, including the development of its customer base and the expansion of its business on a supplier level.

Geographic expansion

For a start, the company’s recent appointment as an Oracle VAD for the MENA region extends its reach further than it traditionally has done, particularly with regards to emerging North African countries such as Morocco.

That is prompting the company to look at what it needs to do to beef up its partner network, according to Cornelius. “We are in the process of recruiting or re-recruiting some of the partners in North Africa,” he says. “We already have an extensive partner network in the Middle East, but we will expand that to make sure we can cover all the areas that Oracle wants us to.”

In addition to North Africa, Cornelius reveals the company is stepping up its activities in Saudi Arabia. It generated 17% of its business from the Kingdom in 2009, but Cornelius has set his sales team a target that will drive that contribution closer to 30% by the end of this year.

“There are some key areas that I am going to concentrate on where I believe the growth areas are and one of those is the Kingdom,” says Cornelius. “The business potential there is very high and we have got the partner community to sustain and support that, so I am really looking forward to taking Tech Access to the next level if you can call it that,” he adds.

Channel management

The push for more partners is being supplemented by a shift in the way Tech Access manages the channel. Cornelius is currently assessing candidates for a new channel manager post that the company has just created.

The role will involve managing the partner recruitment process, carrying out related due diligence and driving partner performance. Previously, the channel role was handled by product managers.

“I am also putting what I call a strategic alliance manager in place because we have to deal with some more vendors out there and with Oracle now we will have to deal more with system integrators and ISVs, so there is a new scope for Tech Access. In the past we were mainly hardware, now we are moving into the software realm as well, so we are going to need that. That said, Tech Access has been distributing software for other vendors anyway, so we understand the software distribution market.”

The bulk of Tech Access’ business presently comes from five vendors, with Oracle naturally contributing the largest chunk. The others are Symantec, Quantum, NetApp and Hitachi Data Systems (HDS).

Cornelius comments: “With the Oracle acquisition of Sun, they terminated their relationship with HDS, so we now have a direct relationship with HDS. We have also renewed our relationship with Symantec, not that it ended, but I think there was a little bit of a lapse or less focus, put it that way. I have now put in a product manager for Symantec, who is only responsible for Symantec, and we have seen a tremendous upturn in the last quarter with the Symantec business,” he claims.

Networking move

Cornelius insists the company’s ambition is to provide a total solution for its reseller customers by allowing them to purchase everything they need — including professional services — from Tech Access.

With the hardware portion covered by servers and storage, and the software aspect represented by the likes of Oracle and Symantec, one gap that stands out is networking.

The company has had relationships with some networking vendors in the past, including 3Com, and now feels it is time to properly address that part of the business again.

“I am busy reviewing that portfolio right now,” admits Cornelius. “And I need to make a decision on that quite quickly, so we are meeting with vendors. To cover the network properly you need to have both hardware and software, so we will see whether one vendor can provide both or whether multiples of vendors can supply the whole portfolio.”

Indirect promise

One question Cornelius claims he does get asked since moving into distribution is whether coming from Sun means he will look to alter Tech Access’ strategy and move direct in some cases. His answer to that is unequivocal.

“I can tell you that as long as I am here there will be no direct [sales],” he asserts. “We are a two-tier company. In other words, we deal with partners who deal with customers — we will not deal with end-users. You can’t scale to every customer need out there, you need the partners, so our job is to get the partners out there that can also add value to their customers. That is the key.”

One might think that moving from a US-based multinational organisation to a privately-held regional player might be something of a culture shock, but Cornelius insists that hasn’t been the case, particularly given his close relationship with Tech Access over the years.

He does highlight one major difference though, which he is finding to his benefit given his involvement in fine-tuning Tech Access’ strategy.

“Coming from a corporate company there are more rules and things in place, whereas with a smaller company you have got the flexibility to make decisions much quicker,” says Cornelius. “That wasn’t a surprise to me, but you could say it was enlightening. It is nice to be at the decision point. If a decision is being made or if it is something I believe the management of Tech Access needs to know, then I obviously have them right next to me and I can go and discuss it and so on.”

Somehow you get the feeling that life in distribution is suiting Cornelius quite nicely despite his years at IBM and Sun. Tech Access will certainly be hoping so as it bids to become as well known for its expertise in Oracle as it is in Sun Microsystems.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code