Dell Canada channel chief Valiquette looks to strengthen distribution, cross-Dell collaboration

Dell Technologies business units like Pivotal and Boomi are not used much by partners in Canada today, but Andre Valiquette believes customer problems around digital transformation they can solve will drive strong demand and bring partners into their fold.

Andre Valiquette,National Director, Channel Sales at Dell EMC Canada

The major channel news at the just-concluded Dell Technologies World event in Las Vegas was the official rebranding of the partner program, from the Dell EMC Partner Program to the Dell Technologies Partner Program. That rebranding carries with it the full integration of all the Dell  Technologies companies within the rebranded program, so that purchases from all the strategically aligned companies will now count for tier credit and MDF. That will be a big deal in Canada, said Andre Valiquette, who was named the new National Director, Channel Sales at Dell EMC Canada in March.

“Collaboration has been a long-used word, but it needs to have more substance to it,” Valiquette said. “Partners want stability and innovation.”

This credit for tier status and MDF in the larger Dell program was first extended to VMware in February, and now encompasses Pivotal, RSA, SecureWorks, Virtustream and Boomi. Collaboration between these units has been central to the value proposition around digital transformation that Dell Technologies has been articulating to partners, but today these kinds of relationships beyond the long-standing one between Dell EMC and VMware tend to be limited in Canada.

CDW Canada is one of Dell Technologies’ most significant partners in Canada, winning the overall 2018 Dell EMC Canada Partner of the Year Award last fall. While their Dell client business is huge – they also won the 2018 award for that – about half their Canadian business is focused on the data centre, and that’s without adding Scalar Decisions into the mix. While that acquisition closed in February, for now, they are being run as separate companies. CDW Canada’s business with the other Dell Technologies companies is limited however.

“Dell EMC is the largest, VMware is a distant second, RSA is third, and we do nothing with the rest,” said Dan Reio, Director, Product & Partner Management & Marketing at CDW Canada, who leads the team responsible for the Dell Technologies relationship.

Valiquette believes that this collaboration will inevitably come, because it is so fundamental to digital transformation.

“Pivotal’s importance is in driving digital transformation – and that’s increasing,” he said. “Pivotal is the catalyst that starts the conversation around digital transformation, and partners are piggybacking off all that drag. There’s such a synergy with that conversation.”

Valiquette stressed that while Pivotal as a brand is still not that well known, what it can do inevitably will increase customer demand for it, and thus partner investment in it.

“We just did an ‘adding data value’ road show where Chad Sakac [the Canada-based technical evangelist for Pivotal] was the keynote speaker, and there was great interest, even though not all customers there worked with Pivotal,” Valiquette said.

Similarly, Boomi, Dell’s cloud integration platform, which is even less well-known than Pivotal, is seeing growing demand for its core functionality.

“While Pivotal provides the application modernization, Boomi is the digital glue,” Valiquette said. “Boomi is the underpinning of digital transformation, the tool that ties it all together. What’s important is not how many partners are working with Boomi today. It’s how many customers want Boomi to help enable digital transformation. When you have the catalyst, you create that compelling event.”

That, Valiquette stressed, is what partners want from Dell Technologies.

“Partners ask us to create the demand so that they can build profitable practices,” he said. “Pivotal and Boomi are both effective tools to create opportunities. It’s all about business outcomes. Those were lower calorie words in the past. But today, it’s all about using a tool like Pivotal to provide insights to their customers. Yesterday I had a partner approach me about a joint initiative with Pivotal. They want to know how to get engaged on the hardware side to complement that.”

In addition to enhancing the partner cutting edge around digital transformation, another top priority for Valiquette is at the other end of Dell Technologies’ business in Canada – the long tail of distribution – which today accounts for about 7000 partners who buy through Ingram Micro and Tech Data in Canada.

“Distribution is more significant in the marketplace in Canada compared to others,” he said. “One of the nuances of Canadian strategy is to let us go to paces we have not sold to. Before this role, I was Dell EMC’s Vice President of Commercial Sales for Canada’s Central East region, and we had the highest channel mix there in Canada, particularly in Atlantic Canada and Quebec. The reach our partners provided in the East region was key to our success in that region. That’s why they increased the scope of my role.”

Valiquette said that while distribution is critical for Dell in Canada, it has not been well developed, nationally, in the past.

“AC Nielsen is a better measure of distribution, and it finds that distribution is 50 per cent greater as a percentage of overall IT market in Canada than it is in the U.S.,” he said. “So it plays a significantly more important role in the marketplace. Our distribution strategy has been more in its infancy, but it needs to evolve. It’s part of my core priorities.

“We have so much upside in distribution,” Valiquette concluded. “That’s where the Canada strategy needs to evolve. You have to be able to mirror the marketplace.”

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