Brand building – a priority for new Novell Canada chief

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Expect the Novell brand to be more visible in the Canadian enterprise market this year. Making that happen is one of the primary goals of newly appointed Novell Canada Ltd. president, Katie McAuliff, in the next few months. “It’s the most exciting time to be at the company,” remarked McAuliff, a 13-year-veteran at Novell. The new executive at the helm of Novell’s Canadian operations officially assumed her new role on January 24, but has been going around the country meeting with channel partners and customers as early as November last year. In a one-on-one interview with ComputerWorld Canada’s Mari-Len De Guzman, McAuliff gave us a glimpse of her outlook and objectives, as she takes over the reins at Novell’s Markham, Ont. operations.

What will some of your key priorities be in 2007?

What I am going to focus on at Novell Canada in 2007 are three things: first, I want to increase the visibility of our organization, our brand, our capabilities, the solutions, the people. We are going to do that in many different ways. I have been out to see dozens of customers across the geography in the past 60 to 90 days. And we have a great opportunity just to increase the visibility of our success in all of the spaces we play in.

The second area I am focusing on is increasing leverage, and this coincides with the strategy we already have in place for our channel and our partners. We have done some great things for them to increase profitability in partnering with Novell. But we are suggesting they get a little bit more focused: become a Linux specialist, become an identity or security specialist.

We will work with the entire channel eco-system – distributors, integrators, consultants, other OEMs, other manufacturers – to increase our leverage. I call it “increasing leverage” because people need to know our story, be able to repeat it; and the channel partners, who represent us [should] be as good as or better than we are at everything we do.

The third area is focus and execution. If I am going to do the first two, from a focus perspective I am going to also say, ‘Let’s take this partner, who is excellent at security, take our award-winning identity and management solution, and go after healthcare, which is a vertical that has a great need for that solution.’ So the right partner, with specialization on the right solution, and going after an industry vertical with that business need today. That’s what I mean by focus.

What are your expectations of the Canadian market?

Customers in Canadian enterprises and partners have been very welcoming. They have a desire to learn more about some of these technologies and solutions, and the advantages they can bring. My expectations are also that geographically, we will do a whole bunch of open source in Halifax and Toronto. But maybe in Calgary, they are really interested in identity management. In Canada we will look specifically across the market, across verticals, such as retail, financial services, healthcare, and go after needs that they have today.

I also believe that geographically some markets are a little bit more of risk-takers some are more risk-adverse. Literally, the CIO communities have a different personality in Halifax versus Calgary, versus other areas.

You were successful in transforming Novell’s channel model. Tell us more about that.

It’s a core competency that I have in working with channels. I have been doing it for a long time, almost my entire 20 years in the IT industry. Again, it’s back to my second goal for Novell Canada to increase our leverage. Channels are an incredibly important part of our organization’s success. We don’t have 5,000 people out selling on our behalf on the streets of Canada. So the channel partners being knowledgeable and able to present solutions on our behalf, that’s critical to our success; it’s core to our strategy. We’ve succeeded when they are as good as or better than my own team is at doing what we do everyday. Focusing on that has allowed us to build some really good channel partnerships in my past experience.

We’re not going to invent anything different, per se, in Novell Canada, for instance. We have a Partner Net 2007 program, which is very different from Partner Net 2006. In line with that strategy, as a corporate global initiative, we are asking partners to specialize – in Linux and open source, in identity, in our WorkGroup technology, our open enterprise and collaboration technology. As they specialize, we will work tightly with them, hopefully, to become better in these particular spaces. And that is going to, in turn, make them greater experts, it will differentiate them from their peers, give them a competitive advantage and therefore, help grow the organizations and lead to their success.

What is your first order of business?

Just meeting everybody and establishing relationships with the communities in Canada – all of our customers, the internal teams, all the industry players, other OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), other manufacturers, some industry groups. That has been my key priority – listening to them, their needs, [learning] what their priorities are, and making sure we’re lined up accordingly.

Novell, being a big player in the open source space, what can you say about analyst observations that open source adoption has reached its peak and that market share will generally remain at a constant level?

To emphasize some of the conversations we had previously, we’re seeing incredible momentum in the open source space, both in the data centre and on the desktop. If you look at the numbers and the partners and the growth we’ve had, just in partners that are certified, that speaks to not a flattening out but rather a great momentum and a great growth. Open source is a little bit of a generic term. There are open source solutions underneath areas that are growing like kiosks. High-performance computing is open source. POS systems, cash registers. Many organizations switched their point-of-sale systems in Y2K. It’s been seven years now, they all have to refresh that technology. Linux is an excellent proposition there; it’s not proprietary, it’s much less expensive than the current solutions they have in place; that’s open source. In my opinion, there are dozens of areas that open source play and they’re growing extensively.

One of the questions that might arise, as you meet with Canadian partners and customers, is on the recent Microsoft-Novell agreement. How do you assure your constituents that this is beneficial to their business?

If they are interested in knowing why it’s good for them, [I’d ask them] to look at the press releases around AIG and Deutsche Bank and the one we just released on Wal-Mart. We have very large organizations saying, ‘Yes Novell. Yes Microsoft. This is excellent for me and I’m going to take advantage of it. I’ll even speak publicly about it.’ So I would point them to those very large organizations that are [attesting] very publicly to the benefits that [the agreement] brings. The bottom line of what we did is extremely beneficial for customers in the data centre, not to have two organizations finger pointing at each other. (Microsoft and Novell are) committed to interoperability and committed to joint technology development. The users of these technologies are benefiting in a major way from the agreement that we put together. And that’s why these technologies ex



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