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With Cuts Coming, CA Goes Back To Basics

After announcing an 11% headcount reduction, CA executives talked about refocusing on revamping the company's named-accounts program from 12,000 to 3,000 customers, refining the product focus, re-emphasizing storage, and fixing its admittedly ineffective training programs.
One day after announcing a major downsizing in which it will slash its headcount by 11 percent, CA said it is going to reverse much of the go-to-market strategy it implemented during the past two years.

That includes revamping its named-accounts program from 12,000 to 3,000 customers, refining its product focus, improving communications with partners, re-emphasizing storage and fixing its admittedly ineffective training programs. Company executives addressed these and some other changes at its World Premiere event at XChange 06 in St. Louis.

From a channel perspective, the company recently brought back two familiar leaders -- Gary Quinn and George Kafkarkou -- following the abrupt departure of channel chief James Hanley, who was tapped so the two could focus on growing CA's SMB and consumer businesses.

It was ironically a year ago that Hanley showed up for a CA World Premier at XChange '05 with what appeared by many to be a hastily prepared 10-minute presentation that lacked significant substance. "That was a real disaster," one CA executive admitted privately.

Determined not to let history repeat itself, Quinn, who is executive vice president for CA's indirect business operations, apologized to partners at the channel conference and promised more focus and to improve some evident problems.

"Many of the names and faces have changed, but they've changed back to people you've known before," Quinn said. "It's a big change for the company; it's a big bet. I believe you folks can help us grow our company."

Some partners seemed willing to give Quinn the benefit of the doubt after pointing out there will be less interaction between solution providers and CA's direct sales force except with the top 3,000 named accounts and prospects.

"They are going back to basic, which is very nice. It will help us to work with them directly," said Ali Rezaei, sales manager at Enterprise Network Technologies, a Tucson, Ariz.-based CA partner.

Rezaei, whose company has had a nine-year partnership with CA, said the programs constantly shifted.

"Their model keeps changing over an over," he said. "Hopefully, there will be some stability."

In 2004, CA launched the named-accounts program, earmarking 12,000 that could work with partners. Likewise, CA's telemarketing facility, called the Customer Interaction Center (CIC), in Tampa, was open to both partners and CA's field sales force.

Under the new plan, the CIC will only support partners, helping them create solutions and marketing campaigns.

Partners can still go into named enterprise account with CA's sales reps, who will continue to be given incentives to work with partners. Among some other improvements Quinn promised:

  • Improve demand generation -- "We have not done a good job at this," Quinn said. "We have to basically fund you guys more and [build] more brand awareness."

  • Communicate more frequently -- Outreach to partners has been admittedly weak. "I'm not sure if we've been communicating with you guys," Quinn said. At the same time, he promised not to overcommunicate either.

  • Focus on a manageable number of products for partners -- "In order to get CA focused, I am looking to rally around a few products," Quinn said.

    On the enterprise side, those products will include: Identity & Access Management, Service Desk, eHealth and iLumin. In the commercial segment, CA will focus on its Business Protection Suites, ARCserve, Integrated Threat Management, Erwin and XOsoft. And for consumers and small businesses, CA will emphasize Internet Security Suite, Antivirus, PestPatrol and Desktop DNA. The plan is to educate partners on about five products by the end of the calendar year and have eight by the end of the first calendar quarter.

  • Emphasize storage -- "Some people have been wondering if we were in the storage business," Quinn said. "We are in the storage business. We've kind of taken our eye off the ball for last 12 to 24 months. A key priority will be leveraging the acquisition of continuous data protection software vendor XOsoft, and Exchange mailbox manager iLumin."