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D-Link has invested in educational and training support for its channel as it continues to show commitment to making life easier for partners.
The networking player, like much of the industry, saw an explosion in demand for training during the Covid-19 lockdowns and the worst of the pandemic, but the appetite for knowledge has continued and the firm has reacted with more flexible options for partners.
“We’re still committed, we’re still doing higher education. During lockdown, we used our time to rebrand our training portal and change the way we do training. We went down the route originally of doing lots and lots of classroom-based certification courses, where you’ve got to sit in a presentation for two days and sit an exam at the end of it and get certified,” said Neil Patel, channel partner sales director at D-Link Europe.
“We’re changing the whole of that concept now, creating specific information packages, putting it into smaller, bite-sized chunks, trying to help partners do the job and the things they need to do most often in bite-sized pieces,” he added.
“Our partners are able to dip in and then dip out again. The way we certify them is if they take those little snippets and put them together as a pack. We turned the whole training process more into a gamification type of environment. So there are more courses, shorter courses, small steps that people can step in and out of.”
The call for training is driven by the pressure partners feel to stay one step ahead of market developments, with the traditional networking channel having seen significant change over the past couple of years.
“The market is changing. Most, like us, come from a traditional networking enterprise environment. But that whole process of connectivity has expanded immensely,” said Patel. “We’ve kind of gone from, ‘Here’s a switch, here’s an access point’ to ‘Here’s a camera’, things that you would put into vending machines or into electric vehicle charging machine points...industrial IoT [internet of things]. We make products that allow 5G, 4G and 3G connectivity to a LAN that is then put into a harsh environment,” he said.
Outside of the training, the other focus for the channel team has been to continue to reach out to managed service providers (MSPs), and Patel said progress had been made on that front.
“We focused on developing our cloud business network. We spent a great deal of time trying to find managed service providers across Europe and trying to be an alternative to some of the other brands in the marketplace,” he said. “Our raison d’etre is to take complex technologies and make them more accessible. We do that through prioritising the type of technologies that our partners want and we streamline the portfolio to go for the majority of the market.”
Patel added that it was committed to honouring the prices that partners are quoted, even with the pressures of component shortages, and it would not play the games some rivals were playing around pushing customers to higher priced units.
“When you run a channel business and you’re so dependent on our channel, we guarantee the prices that to our partners to MSPs to our VIP plus partners, you’ve quote what you’ve quoted your Customer Price, we will honour that price. And we try to be absolutely fair,” he said.
“I can only describe the way that some of these vendors are acting as organised extortion: ‘If you want your product 60 weeks, you paid 20% more, we bring it in quicker’,” he added.