Informix plans to completely overhaul its channel, shifting the bulk of resources away from its traditional Unix base in a bid to win 15 per cent of the $38 billion NT database market by the end of next year.
The company will review its entire channels operation and plans to announce "a complete cross-platform channel strategy' in September. Informix executives will use August to develop what the company hopes will be a "comprehensive distribution strategy".
The new focus on the enterprise NT market was revealed at the Informix Worldwide User Conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, when outgoing chief executive Phil White announced a multimillion dollar commitment to deliver NT solutions based on Informix database technology through the channel.
White said Informix had come to realise that NT was not an enemy, but an opportunity that the company had overlooked. "We stayed away from NT for a long time, probably too long," he admitted.
The company's strategy centres on working with application software partners SAP, Baan, Lawson Software and Peoplesoft in joint NT sales opportunities across a number of target markets - branch automation, data warehousing, healthcare, manufacturing and retail.
In addition, Informix will introduce a series of NT channel programmes, including application porting, demand creation, direct salesforce training and technical support.
The company will allocate 40 per cent of its channel resources to creating an NT Channel Partner Organisation, which will provide Vars with dedicated partner representatives, technology consulting, telesales representatives and Informix sales engineers. Informix representatives would not disclose how much of its total budget was allocated to the channel prior to the release of the supplier's second quarter results next week.
Brett Bachman, general manager of enterprise products, insisted that the company would remain committed to its traditional Unix market, but admitted that there would be some "reallocation" from Unix to NT. Currently only five per cent of channel resources is dedicated to NT.
In order to facilitate the NT indirect strategy, Informix direct sales personnel will receive new compensation packages. "There will be economic incentives for the direct salespeople," explained Bachman. "They will receive financial compensation when they hand over a sales opportunity to a partner. We want to achieve a proper sales ecosystem balance."
Partnership deals with leading applications software houses will be vital to the success of the indirect strategy. White said the company was averaging two new accounts a day through partnerships with the likes of Baan, while Bachman added that some 50 per cent of new SAP installations are for NT environments.
But Informix has still not persuaded SAP to port its applications to run on the object-relational Universal Server database. White said negotiations were still ongoing with the German supplier, but was unable to provide any timetable for availability. Universal Server for NT will go on general release in the fourth quarter of this year.
Sales through the indirect channel accounted for 25 per cent of total revenues in 1996. The company wants to see this grow to 50 per cent by 1999.
Informix insists that it has not reduced the number of people working in its partnership marketing organisation, despite current rumours, claiming that it has simply restructured the group so that it has people located at the Menlo Park headquarters in California as well as in regional operations. Corporate partner marketing will focus primarily on strategic partners with a global reach, which can contribute the greatest revenue to the indirect channel.
Nonetheless, since the beginning of the second quarter in April, the headcount in the corporate partner marketing unit has fallen by 16 per cent through a combination of natural wastage and lay-offs.
Informix says this is a consequence of its strategy of providing customised marketing support in regional operations, so that the company is closer to the localised marketing needs of its partners. All regions are expected to have marketing people in place by the third quarter of this year.
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