Top Newsmaker: D-Link’s Nick Tidd

Nick Tidd is no stranger to the Top 25 Newsmakers list, having nabbed the No. 2 spot a couple of times in years gone by. This year, however, Tidd comes to the list from a place he never could have imagined he would have been a year ago.

Earlier this year in March, Tidd left 3Com after 15 years with the company when his group was phased out after a company-wide restructuring. At the time, Tidd said he was disappointed because of all the hard work his team had put into the channel program. Tidd, the worldwide channel chief at 3Com (NASDAQ: COMS) at the time built a channel network of more than 107,000 resellers around the world.

Looking back on it now, Tidd said he enjoyed his time at 3Com, where he was viewed by many in Canada as the face of the organization. “It gave me insight into various geographies of the world,” he said.

Now at D-Link and focusing on the North American marketplace, Tidd said that one thing he won’t miss about his old job at 3Com is the over 100,000 airline miles he racked up each year at 3Com. “I’ve had time to spend at home with my children before they go off to university,” said Tidd of his family, which he got to see a lot more of over the summer months.

Tidd, however, didn’t get much time off as he was named general manager of D-Link Canada in August as well as its channel chief. While D-Link is traditionally known as a retail brand for networking gear by the marketplace who make the rounds at the local Future Shop or Best Buy, Tidd’s challenge now is to change that perception when selling the product to the enterprise.

D-Link’s popularity in the retail world, however, makes it a good sell to the enterprise, said Tidd, because the reason people buy the product is that it’s a good value and it works. That message especially rings true in tough economic times. “We’re taking the value to the enterprise,” said Tidd. “We’re in an economy today where we’re faced with people who want more for their money.”

Tidd said D-Link also has the challenge of proving to the enterprise customer that the brand is not just about networking gear but an end-to-end solution. “One of the great misconceptions that many people have is that they think we are just a networking company,” he said.

For businesses, in addition to switches and routers, D-Link also offers storage, voice over IP communications, WLAN, video conferencing, VPNs and firewalls and network cameras.

Aside from promoting the brand in the enterprise, one of Tidd’s biggest roles to play at D-Link has been to modify the D-Link channel program in Canada . When Tidd joined the networking equipment vendor during the summer, he said some of the problems with the program were the lack of configuration tools and robust marketing collateral as well as not enough Canadian case studies.

In a few short months, Tidd has successfully implemented a test drive program where partners can test the solutions they are looking to deploy and try out the equipment – all before having to purchase it. The ability to do these things is especially important for D-Link’s smaller customers who might not have the resources to do so otherwise, Tidd said.

Tidd and his team are focused on the distributor channel in that D-Link has relationships with all of the major distributors including Synnex, Tech Data and Ingram Micro as well as D&H Distributing.

In a country as geographically vast as Canada and with SMEs making up the majority of businesses, Tidd said it is important to have distributors that stock product locally to help the smaller partners out.

On the horizon, D-Link will be announcing a new warranty program for partners to exchange products and increase their ability to access technical support. Alongside this, D-Link in January will introduce a partner portal to help the channel stay better informed. D-Link is also planning on rolling out a rewards /loyalty program in that timeframe as well with more details to follow closer to the date.

With the end of the year in site, Tidd is already looking forward to these plans in the new year. “January is going to be very interesting,” he said. “The three months that have gone by has been an absolute blur.”

While Tidd spent a good chunk of his career at 3Com, he said he’s happy to be defending the company he works for on more positive grounds than whether it will declare bankruptcy tomorrow. “I’m enjoying the fact that I don’t have to justify a tarnished brand or what the stock’s trading at,” said Tidd, referring to 3Com troubled past and present day reality. “With D-Link it’s a much easier conversation to have and it allows us to leverage on our strength in the consumer space.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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