It’s been a year of headlines for Computer Associates, which hasn’t always been easy for the Canadian division run by Joanne Moretti.
From an accounting scandal that shook its parent company, to restructuring, to a new way of treating the channel, she has been in the eye of a series of storms.
“”We were very honest with our customers,”” she said about the accounting irregularities’ impact in Canada. “”Everything was published in the press releases. I think because of that, our customers just really have a lot of faith in us.
“”I went out and saw a couple of CIOs that do a lot of business with CA Canada and explained to them that this is behind us, and that we’re co-operating and that we have full intention of continuing to do healthy business. “”
Once CA owned up to its wrongdoing and paid the requisite fines in the U.S., Moretti explained, it got on with life by making some big acquisitions. In August it bought PestPatrol, a provider of anti-spyware, and signed an agreement in October to buy Netegrity Inc., a security software solutions firm, an area in which she sees huge growth.
The deals were praised by Nick Foster, marketing vice-president of Toronto-based Softchoice Corp., a CA reseller. “”In some ways [CA’s] product line had been fairly stable, which is usually good,”” he said Nick Foster. “”But you need to have excitement, reasons to go back to talk to a customer about a vendor.””
CA’s abandonment of ERP solutions and drive towards management software was also witnessed this year in its US$110-million sale of Accpac International Inc. to Best Software Inc. “”It was kind of this thing off to the left, and it really didn’t play into our strategy at all,”” Moretti said.
CA initiated a corporate restructuring primarily to invest in the partner channel, although Moretti cannot divulge the specific investment in the program. All told, it slashed its global workforce by five per cent, or 800 positions.
In addition, staff have been re-allocated from administration and marketing to customer advocacy roles, she said.
“”There are some changes that we had to make where, unfortunately, we did lose a couple of people “”who weren’t “”attuned”” to CA’s path towards management software and the channel.
“”Heavy”” parts of CA’s business that were shed include marketing and corporate events, in which “”hundreds”” had been on staff, said Moretti. She said she prefers the work be handled by outside agencies with specific expertise in these areas.
In beefing up the channel — one of the most significant changes CA Canada made in 2004 — Moretti lured Canadian Chris Devlin last April from the U.K., where for four years he had been general manager of indirect sales for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In charge of the partner profitability channel strategy, he now has a team of nine people.
The result: CA Canada reported revenues that are 26 per cent higher than last year, attributing this rise in part to partner growth.
The greatest challenge of this business shift, according to Moretti, was “”winning over the hearts and minds of the partners,”” which CA Canada continues to reach through seminars and marketing.
The division, which in the past failed in implementing this activity, has now created incentives to pay its sales team more money for working with channel partners as opposed to directly, as well as margins that partners realize if they resell products through CA.
CA Canada is “”not trying to be all things to all people,”” she said, but targeting customers with about a dozen needs, including IT asset management and vendor-deal negotiation.
Direct sales account for 70 per cent of the comapny’s business today. CA Canada hopes to see a percentage split between the two in the short term, and eventually conduct as much as 70 per cent of its business through resellers. Yet resellers such as Softchoice argue they have realized few benefits from the partner program shift, apart from the heightened exposure given to the channel.
“”The goals were too high and unattainable”” so there’s no payout, explained Foster. Softchoice has grown dramatically over the past two years, he said, and has achieved most of the rebate programs of other vendors. He said CA Canada has yet to provide Softchoice with an explanation for its lofty rebate goals.
That said, however, Foster describes Moretti as a “”good leader”” who is getting CA Canada back to business.