Change Is In The Air At Apple


Given that it has been a year since Francois Daumard joined Apple to lead a channel charge aimed at driving the iPad and iPhone deeper into businesses of all sizes, it’s a good time to take a look at just what kind of impact the former 12-year Microsoft veteran has had on Apple and the channel.

For my money, the progress that Daumard has made in one year as manager of iPad and iPhone channel development is nothing less than striking. Daumard is driving what can only be described as a growing grass-roots movement that is reshaping how Apple is viewed in the channel. Remember, it wasn’t too long ago that the vast majority of solution providers viewed Apple as a channel antagonist that had zero interest in teaming up with partners to win business. Today, Apple is being embraced by those very same solution providers at an almost unimaginable clip.

The gains Apple has made with HTG Peer Groups, a 260-member solution provider group based in Harlan, Iowa, is a good example of the progress he has made. About 35 percent of HTG members have now achieved the new Apple Consultants Network certification, said Arlin Sorenson, founder and CEO of HTG Peer Groups.

“Francois is a smart guy,” said Sorenson in an e-mail exchange. “He knows the channel well. He has been steady and consistent in his approach and is making a difference. Before Francois, there was no SMB engagement. Now we are getting training and help building a practice. He has brought a savvy knowledge of partners and how we make money via services and has focused on helping us achieve shared goals. He also knows how to work effectively with communities and to leverage the power of peers. He truly knows where and how to engage HTG and is making huge inroads through his consistent interaction.”

I’d say that’s a sentiment that has not been associated with Apple’s channel strategy for many, many years. Apple, in fact, is one of the few companies playing channel offense rather than channel defense. Many major vendors today are more interested in narrowing their channel field than capturing new partners to aggressively win incremental business. Check out the company’s channel marketing for the Apple Consultants Network: “Become A Part Of Something Big.”

Something big also describes the iPad and iPhone sales figures. In the most recent quarter, Apple sold 35.1 million iPhones and 11.8 million iPads. With the bring-your-own-device trend taking the business world by storm, Apple is focused on making sure that the iPad and iPhone are full-fledged, well-integrated members of the general business-to-business marketplace.

Given the veil of secrecy around all things Apple, you won’t find Daumard or even Apple CEO Tim Cook talking about the dramatic cultural change that has taken place with regard to the channel. But make no mistake about it. Change is in the air. And partners that don’t get with the program could find themselves missing out on a big opportunity.

BACKTALK: Are you becoming part of the growing Apple Consultants Network? Contact Steve Burke at steve.burke@ubm.com.