When Australia spectacularly locked out Huawei from the 5G network market last year, it appeared to be the end for its local growth ambitions.
With scores of sales staff laid off, including channel chief Geoff Wright, Huawei partners could have been forgiven for believing it signalled the end of their own opportunities with the vendor.
However, almost a year later, the Chinese giant has regrouped, refocused and returned to its roots in a bid to maintain its relevance in Australian enterprise. And that means an “aggressive” bid to woo the channel.
“Now our focus [will be] on our main products which we believe is storage and networking: Wi-Fi, campus switches and data centre networking switches,” explained Colin Hu, managing director for Huawei’s Australian and New Zealand enterprise business. “So in a way, [it’s] a way of being more aligned with our partners.”
Amid a heated trade war between the U.S and China, alongside security concerns about its technology, Huawei’s brand has undoubtedly been hit over the past two years.
“The U.S. has been trying to shoot us in terms of the critical infrastructure,” Hu said. In light of that, it remains “still difficult” for Huawei to invest in its own direct sales capabilities in Australia under this “political headwind”.
In light on this, the channel will become critical as Huawei begins rolling out a fleet of new networking products next month, including 13 different models of Wi-Fi 6.
It is already working with its distributors Synnex and Exeed to launch promotions and campaigns to its local reseller base, which now encompasses 100 registered partners, 35 of whom transact regularly.
“We believe in Australia that the Wi-Fi switch market is worth more than $800 million,” explained Hu. “In this area, we have demonstrated ourselves in other parts of the world, you know, which, you know, but [in Australia] we came a little bit late. But it’s never too late and we can still bring in lots of new things.”
Spearheading this drive is Anna Gao, Huawei’s new channel director for its enterprise business group, who took over following the departure of Wright.
She will be propped up by a team of solution managers and channel managers, who, alongside an Australia-base technical team, will be on hand to support partners.
Gao will now oversee Huawei’s partner program, which consists of a traditional tier structure: authorised, silver and gold. Revenue requirements for the top two tiers currently stand at U.S.$250,000 and U.S.$500,000 respectively.
According to Hu, partners will start earning rebates on registrations and deals from the “first dollar”, though was unable to divulge further details about what percentage they are set to gain.
Marketing development and training funds will also be on the table, while Huawei’s channel team will be encouraging partners to take advantage of its Wi-Fi demonstration kits to develop proof of concepts. Partners may also be eligible for refunds on any of their own demonstration investments.
With these, Hu believes partners will be well-equipped to tap into Australia’s mid-sized enterprise market. However, he admitted, the last two months have been challenging for Huawei, like other technology firms, due to the growing spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
In spite of this though, he remains confident the company will have products to bring to market within the tight timeline of next month.
“[In China], the situation is to become better and so far we still maintain a normal lead time for all the products we sell,” he said. “I think we will be able to maintain that. So far there is no supply chain issue.
“We are giving all our partners and our disties direct communication so they understand the overall business continuity management, the product updates and especially with this new wireless.”