3Com rejects TippingPoint criticism

3Com's new Asia-Pacific boss has rejected comments from the networking vendor's subsidiary TippingPoint that the 3Com brand name was in trouble in the region. In late May, a senior TippingPoint executive told reporters in Singapore the 3Com brand name was "in bad shape" in many countries, including Australia.

3Com's new Asia-Pacific boss has rejected comments from the networking vendor's subsidiary TippingPoint that the 3Com brand name was in trouble in the region.

In late May, a senior TippingPoint executive told reporters in Singapore the 3Com brand name was "in bad shape" in many countries, including Australia.

Peter Chai

"Our distributors go out of their way not to mention 3Com when meeting clients," TippingPoint vice president for marketing and inside sales Greg Fitzgerald said.

But 3Com's new Asia-Pacific general manager Peter Chai yesterday claimed the opposite applied in the nations he'd visited since his April appointment.

"I've been around almost all the countries, and talked to a lot of customers and a lot of partners, the partners consisting of both distributors as well as systems integrators," the former British Telecom exec told ZDNet Australia via telephone.

"I don't think any of them have a negative view of 3Com."

But Chai admitted there was some uncertainty about 3Com's recent strategy.

"The general finding is that everybody knows about 3Com as a company," he said.

"Everybody knows that 3Com has been a lot bigger, and is sort of an icon ... even though they don't know exactly what we have been doing in the last couple of years."

He claimed some large customers and partners remained very loyal and had stuck with the vendor "through thick and thin".

The way forward
Chai's strategy for boosting 3Com's share in the Asia-Pacific region is based on the realisation that the company no longer enjoys the position of second largest networking vendor in the world.

"We are not going to have enough resource to conquer every vertical market and every opportunity that comes across our desks," he said.

With this in mind 3Com will focus on servicing two core sets of customers: small to medium businesses (SMBs) as well as certain high-profile enterprise accounts.

Chai said success in the SMB sector, from which 3Com garners "a significant proportion" of its revenue, depends on getting distributors and resellers to push 3Com's products.

So rather than just providing those partners with financial incentives, 3Com will build a better marketing strategy.

In the enterprise space, 3Com will stop trying to win every deal, or "chasing light on the hills" as Chai put it.

"We are now very very focused on a very selected set of accounts, 'name' accounts, whethet they're existing customers or not," said Chai.

"And we also identified a set of systems integrators, who will be working with these name accounts."

3Com's objective is to drive up market share in certain verticals, with the public sector being the primary focus.

"The public sector is quite big for us in Australia," said Chai.

3Com will attempt to gain a foot in the door in large accounts through selling its popular security or IP telephony products, said Chai, which should lead to further wins in enterprise networking kit.

Restructuring
While 3Com's global operations recently announced a round of 250 job cuts and restructuring as part of its quarterly results, Chai said the Asia-Pacific impact would be "very minimal".

"I am managing my operating expenses very very tightly, so that the impact on people is a lot less," he said.

While Chai is based in Singapore, he completed his tertiary qualifications in Australia and worked for many years with local carriers Telstra and Optus. He still has a soft spot for the land Down Under.

"I love Australia," he said. "I usually try and get back at least three times a year."

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