Expanding their training horizons.
Sometimes taking over the world is a tough endeavor. As Atlanta-based Vector Networks has found, having partners in every continent is not without its logistical headaches. But thanks to the Internet, and a few well-written pieces of software, the company can span the globe a bit more easily these days. Company president Ray Clethro talks about expansion, training, and a different kind of remote control.
Can you tell me about what Vector Networks does?
Vector produces software tools that help the IT professional manage and control a company’s computing assets. Our flagship product is PC Duo Enterprise, a collection of integrated tools, or modules, that are pulled together and operate under a system console. Currently, those modules consist of remote control, hardware and software inventory, distribution, metering, diagnostics, and help desk. The idea is that the customer has the flexibility to buy all of the modules or any combination of our modules that fit their requirements. We also intend to release a whole host of new modules soon that add PDA support, secure server deployment, asset management, and other functions.
How did you come to expand Vector into other countries?
Since my business partner and I bought a controlling interest in the company in 1997, the existing distribution network was expanded to cover the world in every continent. From the interest we received from our Web site, we found that the market for our products was large and growing. As a result, we sought out partners to assist us to provide penetration into different areas. The latest two territories to be appointed are Japan and China.
What are some of the challenges of operating in so many countries?
It’s important that our channel partners are technically competent and capable of answering a whole host of inquiries from their customers to help them get the most possible out of our products. We used to rely heavily on our partners’ ability to understand and explain the concepts and intricacies of our products. This approach was acceptable in the earlier days, but the company has grown tremendously within the last few years. It became clear that the differences in the expertise levels of various channel partners didn’t provide a coherent level of support for our customers. With a company that has partners in all major countries throughout the world, the main problem was that of physically getting our training managers to the required location for a training session.
How did you overcome the remote training difficulty?
Luckily, Vector already had the answer to this problem within its own product portfolio. One of the modules within PC Duo Enterprise is a remote control tool that allows the IT manager to take control of another PC located anywhere in the world via the Internet. The tool allows us to provide training sessions for both customers and our channel partners. Our whole training and certification program has now been rewritten around this concept.
How has this training effort benefited the company?
The obvious benefit is that the customer feels better supported. That results in more sales for our channel partners and subsequently more sales for us, but the less obvious benefit is one of providing a consistent level of knowledge and expertise across a worldwide network of different cultures, languages, and abilities.
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