What the heck is going on with Novell

You knew something was up when channel chief Pat Bernard left Novell only eight months into the job. It looks like from the outside that Novell did not like the medicine she was prescribing that would make them a true channel-centric company. Something that Novell has publicly stated it wishes to be.

But, you see you can’t go half way with channel partners. Dell is learning this lesson right now and Symantec got a taste of the channel’s anger last year. Novell has to learn too. Bernard’s outline was very clear cut in my mind. Her plans I think would eventually change Novell’s culture.

Under Barnard's plan, Novell would have four channel pillars: making partners profitable, investing in the growth of partners' businesses, enabling partners with sales and technical support and creating a partner-centric organization.

Katie McAuliff, the current Americas Channel Chief and former Novell Canada President told me last year she has the same mandate in the Americas channel and had already decreased direct coverage and increased the amount of staff for the partner business.

The following is a direct quote from McAuliff: “All these moves drive more revenue through the channel and makes them more profitable. The next step is internally with the ecosystem. We're asking ourselves specific questions, such a how do we make a partner more profitable or what makes a system integrator profitable and in distribution, what are the differences? We're getting granular on that, and you'll see results in the second half and in 2009,” she said.

Maybe some of these internal questions did not sit well with senior executives. Bernard was replaced by Javier Colado who stated publicly that he was going to use Bernard blueprint. He lasted just four months as channel chief and was promoted last week to President of Novell EMEA.

Sure that is a more prestigious job and it comes with a President’s title, but what about Novell’s channel direction. Where is that leadership coming from?

John Dragoon, Novell’s chief marketing officer will take over the channel chief role. If you ask me this is a mistake. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Dragoon but no man can handle both jobs and do them well. Given the state of the economy I believe that marketing will be key. A person such as Dragoon should devote his entire time to marketing instead of handling both.

The smarter move would be to promote McAuliff who is a channel advocate and let her run with it.

But these rapid fire executive changes can only lead to confusion in the channel, which no company really needs right now given the state of the economy.

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