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Linksys eliminates worldwide channel chief position

Bob Martin will continue to lead the Canadian channel operation

In a recent restructuring of its worldwide channel program Irvine, Calif.-based Linksys has eliminated the position of worldwide channel chief, with more responsibility being pushed-out to the regional team leaders.

In published reports, Linksys executives said former vice-president of the worldwide channel organization, Nigel Williams, is seeking a new position with parent-company Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO).

However, when contacted by CDN Linksys declined to comment, indicating the SMB and consumer networking equipment vendor would no longer be commenting on the channel program restructuring and no executives would be available for interviews on the subject.

A statement provided to CDN by Linksys does not mention Williams, his status, or any future role he might or might not have with Cisco.

“We are focused on providing world-class service and support to our partner community, and that by decentralizing management our partners can reap increased benefits through support that is tailored to their local markets,” said the statement. “We are also excited that best-practices achieved with this model will be shared throughout the country regions and examined locally for implementation.”

The statement went on to outline the new reporting structure for the channel operation. It indicates channel sales will now report into Bob Gregerson, the vice-president of retail and Canada sales. Allen Powell, as senior director of channel operations, will continue to lead the U.S. channel sales team and report into Gregerson.

On the marketing side, Robert Auci will continue as senior director of channel marketing, reporting into Marna Bullard, vice-president of worldwide marketing.

In Canada, a Linksys spokesperson confirmed it will be business as usual for the Canadian channel operation. Its head, Bob Martin will continue as channel manager for Linksys Canada, reporting into Gregerson.

Examining the changes, it seems that Linksys is trying to remove a management layer and let each region run its channel program says Michelle Warren, a senior analyst with London, Ont.-based Info-Tech Research Group.

“From that standpoint it’s good, and it can improve efficiency,” said Warren, adding eliminating a layer of complexity isn’t a bad thing. “Each region is running their own program, so now they can continue to do that and report into somebody who is not paid a big salary to be a worldwide channel manager.”

With each region is continuing to run its own channel operations, Warren says Linksys partners shouldn’t notice much of a change.

The restructuring may well be related to the vendor’s ongoing efforts to more closely align its channel program with that of parent company Cisco, says Warren, where the two companies overlap in the SMB space.

She adds though this restructuring may prove to be temporary, as Linksys takes the new model out for a drive to see how it handles.

“My guess is they’ll try this out and if it works they’ll keep it as is,” said Warren. “If it turns out Linksys needs a separate worldwide channel manager they’ll probably bring it back at a later date.”