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Ray was always a man in a hurry. Each of his companies has been a company in a hurry. This is especially true of Novell. At first the scramble was for survival. Two years later, the company was rushing to accomplish a larger goal: Growth of the LAN industry.
In 1985, Novell began to spend time and money defining and supporting that fledgling industry. It formed an international users group. It held its first conference for independent software developers. It rolled out its first reseller authorization program. It expanded the distribution of LAN Times. And the idea for the Networld trade show was born.
Of course Novell saw itself as the leader of the new industry. The management team had always prided itself on having technology that was at least two years ahead of the competition. In 1985, Judith started publicizing this two-year lead in LAN Times and company advertising. The idea of LAN milestones was articulated. Indeed, in this year, Novell invented an historical perspective for an industry that was barely two years old. Players in this business weren’t just selling product, they were making history.
The self-consciousness, self-definition, and sense of purpose that Novell promoted in defining the LAN industry was, in a way, as important a contribution as its technology.
Novell was not merely catering to an established market; it was creating a new market by exciting public demand for an altogether different kind of product. This new market for LAN products had to be carved out of the existing market for office automation machines, minicomputers, and mainframes. To get the end users excited about LANs, Ray and his team had to motivate business partners in the new industry such as resellers, distributors, systems integrators, software developers, and other manufacturers.
The key to it all was the proliferation of NetWare. Ray saw a window of opportunity that would remain open for just two or three years. If Novell could attain a critical mass of installations in that time, its technological claim would prove lucrative indeed and Novell could find itself the dominant player in an important industry. If Novell failed to create momentum and rally both its allies and its competitors to the cause, its moment in history would pass. Either other LAN companies would overtake Novell or the entire LAN industry would die aborning as alternative technologies were developed and presented to the market.
In the speeches he gave from 1984 to 1989, Ray often compared Novell to a mouse among elephants. His point was that Novell and the entire LAN industry existed at the pleasure of the titans of the computer industry. For the moment, the LAN industry was allowed to grow. Why? The LAN companies had caught the giants napping, in some cases, and in other cases the giants were content to let the small fry pay the costs of developing the new technology. When the fruit was ripe the giants would come in and buy the orchard.
Ray was very solicitous of the giants and tried to make Novell helpful wherever possible. If he played his cards skillfully, he could sell Novell when the time was right and then do again what he loved best: Building up small companies.
So there was to be NetWare Everywhere—the slogan reflected the company’s marketing strategy. Ray pronounced that all channels would be flooded with NetWare products—it would be unfair to keep the end users waiting for this revolutionary technology! No business was bad business.
In this spirit, Novell not only sought marketing agreements with OEM customers, distributors, and resellers; it also lined up a number of retail accounts. This manifestation of the “NetWare Everywhere” strategy was spurred by IBM using retail dealers to market its slow and cumbersome PC Network Program network operating system, along with other Big Blue PC products.
In 1985, Byron Kirkwood was appointed Retail Sales Manager and worked with Ray, Harry, and Craig in making deals. His staff also began to grow, to include Rob Walton, David Chung, Lee Love, Sue Barrett, and Judith’s second son, Jay Zwicky. By the end of the year, NetWare was being sold by Businessland (62 stores), ValCom (240 stores), MicroAge (170 stores), and ComputerLand and Entre (more dozens of stores).
Having secured a retail channel, there still remained the question of how hard these retailers would push NetWare. If the retail outlets were going to be effective at NetWare sales, they would have to have considerable training and technical support from Novell. For that matter, training and tech support were sorely needed by most of Novell’s distributors and resellers. The typical reseller salesperson had less than a year of computer experience and jumped ship frequently. High turnover among reseller salespeople was a big problem for Novell as well as for the VAR (Value Added Reseller) as versus those who just “moved boxes”.
Training and tech support had been a problem for Novell from the early days, but rapid growth in the number of customers was making this problem ever more insistent. “Customers” included salespeople from all sales channels as well as end users. Novell employees and other interested people were also among the trainees.
From 1983 until the Education Department was created the following year, Jared Blaser and Jim Bills did all the training. (Jared subsequently became Director of Marketing Technical Services and Jim became Director of Sales.) In May 1984, John Harris and Sandy Searles were hired to head Education. By early 1986, the Education Department was staffed by 18 employees based in Orem and the regional offices. Most trainees were unable to come to Utah for their lessons, so the Education staff members spent almost half of their time on the road.
As for tech support, Jim Stallsmith had joined the company in December 1983 as Manager of Customer Service. When he was promoted to Director of Field Service two years later, one of his first assignments was to increase the number of field technicians from 9 to 25. Most of these were stationed in Novell’s four regional offices: Mountain View, California; Dallas, Texas; Vienna, Virginia; and Düsseldorf, West Germany.
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