Leading the Way

With approximately 42.9% of global market share in the hardcopy peripherals market in Q3 2011 according to IDC, HP is the dominant force in the print segment.

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Leading the Way Amin Mortazavi, general manager, IPG, HP Middle East
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By  Manda Banda Published  February 7, 2012

With approximately 42.9% of global market share in the hardcopy peripherals market in Q3 2011 according to IDC, HP is the dominant force in the print segment. Channel Middle East spoke to Ali Nemati, channel sales manager for HP’s IPG and Amin Mortazavi, general manager, IPG, HP Middle East, about the company’s channel initiatives and the future of the printing and imaging business in the region.

Channel: HP has continued to dominate the hardcopy peripherals market with global market share in Q3 2011 at 42.9% according to IDC. With such global and regional dominance, comes challenges of making sure that the products in the channel are legitimate. How is IPG addressing this in the Middle East channel?

AMIN MORTAZAVI: Naturally, when you dominate a market segment like HP has done with its IPG business in the Middle East region and globally, you open yourselves up to unethical business conduct and become a favourite target from counterfeiters. While this is bad, we have always believed in educating and informing our partners on the importance of buying genuine products from the authorised channels.

ALI NEMATI: Any vendor that has a dominant position in a particular segment will attract attention from its rivals and partners alike. We are aware that there is a thriving refill business on the consumables side that is legitimate. What is illegal and detrimental to the market is when people knowingly make fake consumables and package them as genuine products. That is hurting the authorised channel and the end-user clients that buy these products.

Channel: How are you addressing the whole issue of counterfeit products and grey or parallel importing in the Middle East channel?

AMIN MORTAZAVI: There are several initiatives that we undertook during the course of 2011. As HP, we joined hands with local authorities in addressing these issues and the implications on businesses. In this regard, we identified the UAE, KSA and other countries in the GCC region were product seizure operations were successfully conducted and those involved were brought to justice. These are on-going processes and we continue to monitor and work with law enforcement agencies across the region when ever this problem resurfaces.

ALI NEMATI: Certainly from a channel partner perspective, our initiatives have revolved around partner education as IPG is 100% a channel business organisation. Our partner education programmes focus on making sure that these resellers are fully involved and engaged with their clients throughout the product lifecycle. We are also encouraging our channel partners not to treat the initial hardware sale as a one-off deal but an opportunity that opens doors for them to earn recurring revenues.

Channel: How easy is it to get partners on board these initiatives that you are rolling out in the region?

ALI NEMATI: We have made it clear to our partners in the Middle East that those that will continue to enjoy more benefits with IPG are resellers that have transitioned from commodity or box pushing to value selling. By adding value to the solutions, a partner is required to invest in this relationship from a skills, training and commitment perspective. We have developed a value business model that allows partners to go to an end-user and up-sell or right sell solutions.

AMIN MORTAZAVI: The Middle East IT channel has come a long way and in the process, we have seen consolidation in the market. As this consolidation has continued, more partners are getting in on the value side of IT selling. What works well for HP in general is the breadth of solutions that partners can take to market. There is a close synergy between IPG and PSG or PSG with the ESSN business. Our approach to partnering with resellers in the region focuses on the value a partner is able to bring to the table.

Channel: Talk us through the whole HP ePrint solutions offerings and what this means for channel partners in the Middle East region?

AMIN MORTAZAVI: HP ePrint is a portfolio of cloud printing solutions specifically designed for mobile computing devices like smartphones and tablets. This segment of the computing industry has been rapidly growing and transforming the traditional cell phones into universal information access tools. As this data usage trend continues there becomes a greater need for printing and sharing data accessed by the mobile devices. HP ePrint, as well as other mobile solutions are an attempt to solve this issue.

ALI NEMATI: Through HP ePrint, partners in the Middle East can begin to offer the entire spectrum of printing solutions not only to consumers but corporate clients. Because ePrint is a solution developed with cloud computing technology, savvy resellers now have the opportunity to take this further and venture into managed print services (MPS).

Channel: How is the adoption and acceptance of MPS and other cloud services in the Middle East region?

AMIN MORTAZAVI: Contrary to belief that MPS has not taken off in the region, we are seeing wide acceptance and growing demand from government and enterprises. The advantage we have about our offerings is that we have solutions that are out of the box and help organisations to have better TCO.

Channel: Where do you see growth coming from for IPG in 2012 and beyond in the region?

ALI NEMATI: It’s vital to acknowledge the fact that the trust our clients have built around our products and the level of commitment that our partners have exhibited and continue to do so has led to HP dominating the printing segment. We believe that as IPG, it’s crucial that we continue to support our channels and routes to market.

AMIN MORTAZAVI: As IPG, we work with channel partners and retailers that are supported and helped by channel account managers. Ali leads one of the biggest teams within HP in the region. The reason for this is to ensure that we have feet on the ground that provide support to partners. The strategy going forward will be to increase this level of channel support to ensure that as our business continues to grow, we are in a better or best position to manage the growth.

Channel: As the IT landscape continues to evolve in the region, will there be room for partners that want to resell your hardware solutions only?

AMIN MORTAZAVI: Part of our training programme centres on helping partners to make the transition into value-based selling. We want our partners to increase their margins but to achieve this, they need to increase their knowledge base both from a technical and sales point of view. At the end of the day, channel partners that invest in skilling up will be the ones that reap the benefits with IPG going forward.

Channel: What can your channel partners expect from IPG in 2012?

AMIN MORTAZAVI: We will continue to roll out training programmes for our resellers. We believe that as the channel matures, we want our partners to have the right products and right selling tactics. SMBs will be a key focus area for us in the region and we will be bringing a new portfolio of solutions to help our channels win business in this sector.

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