Cool Solutions

Interview With Dirk Schmidt, VP Sales EMEA for Novell and Werner Luetkemeier, Director Field Marketing EMEA


October 18, 2011 7:28 am





I had an interview with two Novell die-hards in the EMEA sales and marketing field: Dirk Schmidt and Werner Luetkemeier. Let’s sit down at BrainShare while having a thorough interview.

Gert: It is a great opportunity to talk with you about Novell, its marketing and views on the EMEA market. What comes up, what changes and the opportunity to maintain its place on the EMEA market.
Can you tell us a bit about your background, how you’ve come to where you are?
Werner: “Having both joined in the late 90’s, we jointly bring along more than 30 years of Novell experience. While Dirk joined as a Legal Counsel, I started as a Key Account Manager and moved on in various Channel- and Channel Partner roles, until I finally arrived in Marketing. Dirk made his way through different sales roles, e.g. he’s been leading the Sales Operations for Novell EMEA. After having successfully built the Novell Teleweb Organization in Dublin, he was recently appointed Vice President Sales Novell in EMEA, now part of the Attachmate Group.
When we joined in the late 90’s, it’s been a challenging time for Novell. Not because of us, we hope – , more due to the fact that the company had just started its transformation from the “NetWare-only Company” towards a more Collaboration and Systems Management oriented approach. The introduction of ZENworks in particular was a milestone during this period.
Interesting enough, Novell 2011 still builds around the three pillars out of that period: NetWare, now Open Enterprise Server and File Management services, the various ZENworks Endpoint Management solutions and finally GroupWise, of course now being complemented by mobility options as well as the Novell VIBE solution

Gert: You work a lot together. How do you separate tasks and what areas are definitely where you work together?
Dirk: Well, I am overseeing the overall Novell business operations in EMEA. My objective of course is to provide a strong Novell team to our customers and partners in EMEA, delivering best value to both and of course also to reach my revenue targets. We haven’t had a stronger position for doing so for quite a couple of years actually. With our portfolio streamlined on collaboration, endpoint management, and file and networking technologies, today’s Novell is more focused than ever on delivering enterprise-class capabilities in a social, mobile and multi-platform world. We are committed to helping our customers optimize the value they derive from their current investments and providing compelling reasons to extend their Novell investment to meet their evolving business objectives.
Werner: Dirk has put in place a strong sales presence in Europe. So we’ll be much more accessible to our customers and partners then we’ve been for a while. It’s my job to make sure that the customer base is aware about a Novell that is refocused today. Re-focused on a core set of compelling solutions, re-focused on engineering excellence and re-focused on customer loyalty. Different to previous years, our marketing efforts are first and foremost addressing our customers that have our products installed today. We’re fully committed to them and to earning their trust.
Dirk: Its actually very beneficial to work together between Werner and myself – we combine a marketing view of the business and a strategic sales perspective well – now working together for many years – This allows us to decide and execute to the benefit of Novell customers and partners in a fast and focused manner.

Gert: Where does sales meet marketing and what does that mean for Novell putting its own people, its partners and its customers together? Where do they interact?
Werner: I think it’s a fundamental mistake to distinguish between sales and marketing too much. At the end of the day, our duty is to serve our customers and partners by adding value to their respective businesses. On the Marketing side, we primarily focus on information needs in a one-too-many approach, although we’re constantly improving the personalized approach in what we do. Sales is all about trust and customer-intimacy. Be there, listen and provide answers, that’s our mission call.
Dirk: I cannot agree more here with Werner. In the end we have the same objective, but we work with different set of tools. While sales can address a limited number of partners and customers very closely, Werner in Marketing can do what we have always wanted for Novell: A more focused, more visible messaging of the Brand and the Solutions. Marketing helps us to describe the value add of Novell to the Market, from this work, not only the Novell Sales teams but also Novell partners can benefit in the day-to-day conversation with the customer.

Gert: Attachmate now operates Novell as a separate Business Unit. Do customers see a new Novell or a stronger version of the company customers know?
Dirk: Both at the same time. With the renewed focus on Collaboration, File & Networking Services and Endpoint Management, Novell delivers on the core of a value proposition we’ve been building out thoughtfully during the last couple of years. But we have to admit that in the past we didn’t do well on explaining this compelling value proposition. The huge portfolio of the pre-acquisition Novell made it really difficult to focus. So customers and partners didn’t know what Novell was standing for and where we were going. And we’ve been too busy with ourselves instead of focusing on the marketplace. This has now changed. And by the way, our colleagues from NetIQ and SUSE are experiencing the same effects: It’s pretty much as if we’d transformed a department store into three specialist shops.

Gert: Is the EMEA market used to a central top down approach or does it prefer to be approached per country? Is this possible and where do you see opportunities?
Dirk: Well, first of all, you constantly have to remind yourself about what the abbreviation EMEA really stands for: Europe, Middle East and Africa. Any further questions? Of course you can’t let apply one communication-, coverage- or go-to-market model for this variety of cultures, languages and economical environments. So you have to be present and accessible to your customers. Luckily we have various successful models for doing so: Self-owned Novell Sales offices, Novell franchises, Managing Distributor setups or a pure reseller presence. Depending on the needs and the scale of the respective market, we are constantly improving our local coverage.
I am managing the Novell business together with a strong team, not only on the management level but with a team at all levels and local presence that has worked with Novell solutions since a long time. This is a very positive message for all customers and partners: Local leadership is strong and has a high level of understanding for our solutions. From my perspective this is not a “top down” approach, but a strong teaming of local leadership teams for the EMEA market.

Gert: How do you experience the new Attachmate Group? In previous interviews it was said, that Attachmate is investing people and money and it is giving continuation options to NetWare users who want to keep NetWare as a Novell product. What is your experience for EMEA?
Dirk: A private company has the advantage to look at its profitability in a more long-term view. In comparison being publically traded, you have to show and explain your results on a quarterly basis. Previously, these short-term motivations have sometimes made it difficult for us to execute on a long-term transition strategy. Being a part of the Attachmate Group now, this is now easier of course. But let’s make no mistake: Attachmate is a business as well and not a non-profit association. So we have to deliver results. And that’s good news to our customers and partners because only an organization that aims for its own ultimate success will always listen to- and deliver on its customers’ needs.
Werner: We invest where it’s needed. For example, we’ve been adding about 30 new developers at our new and old Corporate Headquarter at Provo, Utah, just on the GroupWise product. You’ll also have noticed our communication efforts around the Novell “Back to Basics” strategy. One more time in summary:
Focus. We’re returning to our roots. Managing what matters and focusing more than ever on our Collaboration, Endpoint Management, and File and Networking Services products.
Engineering excellence. This is what Novell was built on. We have specific plans to increase quality and innovation in all our core offerings.
Customer loyalty and trust. Our focus is first and foremost on customers that have our products installed today. We’re fully committed to them and to earning their trust.
For the NetWare customers our migration path hasn’t changed as well. The Open Enterprise Server 11 is just around the corner, hopefully still to be delivered this calendar year. With OES 11, we continue to focus on File & Networking services in multi-platform OS environments. Mixed operating system environments of Linux and Windows are a customer reality and distinct need. So this is where we deliver.

Gert: The EMEA user community is diverse if you look at the local groups in different countries. What does Novell want to give to its community? How does it plan to do this?
Dirk: Gert, I like the question – if you wouldn’t have asked, I would have commented on the communities around Novell as this is so important for me. We are really thankful and do appreciate any way of user- and partner exchange and interaction. We support it actively wherever we can. We are working closely with the “OpenHorizons” group, but also with the Technology Transfer Partner Group (TTP) for example. With Open Horizons and our partners Gwava, GroupLink, Skypro and SEP we’ve just concluded out hugely successful “Novell Tour” in Austria, Germany and Switzerland with about 400 attendees. We deliver with OpenHorizons multiple customer and partner engagements in EMEA. TTP plays a vital role in technical enablement but also as an element of Feedback to our engineering. Let me be very clear: The Novell community groups are very, very important to us and we are committed to support them. At the same time this also means that we want to work with independent groups, we value appreciation as much as critique and controversial input.

Gert: Is there a preference for existing organized groups (NUI and the way the Nordic countries are connected) or will small local groups get a helping hand?
Werner: No there isn’t a preference actually. The term “community” includes “diversity”, so it’s not on us, to define any “operational model” for our supporting users. We appreciate any flavor of support and we give a lot back in return. However, it’s just fair and honest to say, that User Groups around Novell need to drive themselves from within. As soon as we’d take accountability, the spirit of independence would be affected. This is not what we want – we will though support groups equally in the Novell customer and partner interests.

Gert: GWAVA and Open Horizons (OH) (partners and great organizers of Novell oriented events (GWAVACon, EMEA summits) with lots of content and places where to meet the experts. Both push a lot of Novell knowledge, training, promotion, and fun towards members of its community. How does Novell support or work with these events/organizations?
Dirk: Well, Werner has already mentioned the Novell Tour. I had the pleasure to deliver a keynote at the most recent GwavaCon in Munich, which is indeed a fantastic event with a strong Novell presence traditionally. With OpenHorizons we recently did our Vibe Training tour, hitting various cities and countries. So we’re incredibly active and it’s a constant pleasure to work with these great organizations.

Gert: I am a community member and it is the place where I feel appreciated and I can chat with people on the same level. What is very important is that Novell is there too. I know Novell is highly interested in what its communities are doing and think. Such as the TTP, NUI, OH, GWAVACon, BrainShare, BrainStormer, and Novell tours.
On the other hand Novell customers have complained before the Attachmate Group owned Novell that Novell does not listen to its customers and that communities like OH and GWAVACon do give a more personal approach, where people can talk one on one with experts, sales and marketing, product management, etc.
How do you approach this and where will customers see changes, improvements and more value for their expensive euros? Will events, community support and customer care be able to integrate?
Dirk: Well, I think we’ve given you some good examples about our refocused strategy and the ways we actively interact with our customers and communities. We are determined to deliver strong value for our customers’ and partners’ euros and dollars, since their full satisfaction is always key to our success. Doing an interview here with you is as important to myself as it is to meet my customers. We need to think as a team, Novell, our communities as well as partners. If we strive to build a strong team and work actively with each other, our customers can benefit with that also ourselves.

Gert: Final: I would like to give you guys a few keywords and you tell me if it is
I – important, so high priority, II – usual business, III – something that needs a fresh start, IV – under development, or V – not your business, but elsewhere in Novell …
Dirk, you first: GroupWise
Dirk: A clear I, since people and business need and want to effectively collaborate and Novell has been and will be a leader here with innovation to come.
Werner, keyword Linux.
Werner: Another clear I, because it is an open and scalable operating system. Both aspects are critical and defining to the Novell business
Dirk, keyword Partner solutions
Dirk: Is there a I “+” available? 😉 Seriously: Infrastructure software needs partner services and solutions in order to show any value to customers. We are highly committed to our partners and will be going forward
Werner, keyword Customer care…
Werner: …is always our first priority. Next one please!
Dirk: keyword One EMEA or EMEA diversity (chose, why?)
Dirk: Counter-question: Do you prefer a grey or colorful life?
Werner: keyword Fast car or Swiss knife
Werner: Our customers expect multipurpose tool-sets, being brought to them in a fast but secure manner. Enough said!
Rt: Thanks for the conversation and keep up the good work!
Werner: Thank you…
Dirk: … and keep asking please!

© oct 2011

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Categories: Expert Views, Novell


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