New Zealand is making a mark on Westcon-Comstor's global business as a key market for investment in piloting new programmes and solutions.
Westcon-Comstor chief marketing officer and executive vice president of Asia Pacific (APAC), Patrick Aronson was recently in town and outlined areas of focus and investment for the business as it builds on recent success.
Speaking with Reseller News, Aronson emphasised the importance of the New Zealand market for the distributor and the key role that the local market plays within the global running of the business.
“For me, New Zealand’s an important market,” he said. “We’ve had a strong operation here for a long time, with a lot of strong vendor partnerships, so the revenue is a decent size.
“More importantly, we pilot and run a lot of key programmes here – we find this is a good place to do that. So, over the years we’ve set up various support functions out of this team.”
He explained the Asia Pacific IT and project management office, as well as the partner success cloud support centre, is based in New Zealand.
He also noted that a large portion of the renewals leadership team is based locally.
The reason for identifying New Zealand as the pilot site for many of its programmes is the “high adoption rate and high level of digital maturity,” he said.
“It’s the place where we bring in all the new technologies first… all of our big investments we’re doing in New Zealand before anywhere else in the world, because we feel like we have a great organisation and people here who are ready to adopt it, give good feedback and customers who need it too.
“That’s why I have New Zealand report directly to me as the APAC leader, as opposed to most businesses that have an Australia and New Zealand business. I have three regional managing directors and New Zealand is about 15 per cent of my total business, which is about US$1.2 billion.”
Furthermore, this is the market where the distributor’s new PartnerCentral marketplace was tested and is also one of three pilot countries around the world where a new Microsoft Dynamics CRM system was launched in July, with the global launch slated for October, Aronson said.
At the local Imagine 2023 conference in May, New Zealand managing director Dave Rosenberg claimed that the distributor had seen “double digit growth” across all metrics.
This was backed up by the numbers, with the New Zealand business achieving $178 million in total revenue, up 16 per cent from $153 million.
Reflecting on the growth, Aronson said the company is well-positioned to continue to drive innovation in distribution.
“As a company, we’re feeling pretty good about the space we’re in. Cyber security, networking, and data centre and hybrid infrastructure – those are really the industries that we think are the right ones."
Alongside investment in data and analytics, investment in people and resourcing was of high importance for Aronson as the skills shortage continues is still prominent in markets across the world.
Opportunities for growth were also ripe in cyber security, particularly as the cyber risk environment expands.
“That segment of the market continues to grow even when there are economic, macro headwinds and challenges,” he said. “Businesses can’t afford not to continue to invest in cyber security, it’s just too high risk as they become more and more digital, more of their assets are at risk.”
PartnerCentral and data driven investment
As PartnerCentral ramps up, Aronson noted the focus has turned to ensuring “everyone’s totally comfortable using it,” and while not in a rush to phase out the two preceeding platforms, this will happen eventually.
A feature launched as part of PartnerCentral surrounds partner analytics and insights, allowing partners to analyse data from multiple sources and create actionable insights.
“As a distributor, one of things that we think is really interesting about where we sit is we’re kind of at the crossroads of lots of data - many vendors behind us and many partners in front of us, and lots of different data coming around who’s buying what, in the spaces that we specialise," he said.
“In order for us to be able to use that data effectively we need to be able to analyse it.”
The analytics platform takes data including historical sales records and adds in third party data including subscriptions, customer insights and intent data, generating ‘actionable tasks’ for partners.
“Once we have these actionable insights, we need to place them with the right person in the right place at the right time. That’s where we’ve been really investing as a company.
“We’re placing in two areas – firstly to our partners through PartnerCentral, and that’s the concept for this new partner insights feature, where we give information that’s relevant to them and helps them grow their business based on our analytics.
“The second point we place is to our internal sellers, and that’s this deployment of our CRM, Microsoft Dynamics.
“As a distributor, that’s the value that we see in how we are using data to drive the selling motion and improve the business. We’re really excited about that approach to take distribution to the next level and be data driven.”
Responsible business focus
For the distributor, doing business responsibly has become a key focus, underpinned by a commitment to achieving ISO 9001 relating to quality management and a reduction of waste and the ISO 14001 environmental management certification.
With customers, staff, shareholders and other stakeholders holding increasing expectations for considerations of impacts to communities, people and the planet, Westcon-Comstor has created a framework, containing around 50 indicators, for conducting environmental risk analysis on its largest direct vendors.
The distributor says this analysis covers 80 per cent of total supplier spend, and the resulting analysis helps to guide focus in supplier engagement activities.
“All our vendors are selected around environmental sustainability, focuses and goals… [the focus is on] consolidation and making sure we don’t have stranded assets, and ensuring that [vendors] are maximising everything they’re doing, including ensuring that their data centres are environmentally friendly and using renewable energy,” Rosenberg said.
Other specific initiatives identified by Rosenberg include reducing waste, supporting electric vehicles with additional infrastructure, reducing travel where possible, and improving packaging and shipping solutions.
While work is well underway to move towards more sustainable business, the focus now shifts to keeping momentum in this area as a long-term priority.
“It’s about developing goals or targets which are measurable, meaningful and achievable. If you can develop the goals, then you put the metrics in place… you bring them to life in the business, and that’s our responsibility at a local level," Rosenberg added.
“We are fortunate that we’re a global organisation which means we have the investment, but we have to bring them to our local market, where our staff believes in it, make it fun, and select our vendors off it and ensure our partners have sustainability goals, and then celebrate the successes.”