Regional distributor Mindware is steadily cementing its hardware and software business.
Regional distributor Mindware is steadily cementing its hardware and software business. The company which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2011, has big plans as it readies itself for the next wave of IT distribution. Channel Middle East spoke to general manager Mario Gay, to find out how the distributor is solidifying its value offerings to the regional channel.
Channel: Last year was a landmark year for Mindware in the Middle East IT distribution sector as the company celebrated its 20th anniversary. Briefly explain how business has been over the last 12 to 18 months?
MG: The year 2011 had been a year of celebration but also signalled a positive recovery in the market after a period of crisis. Since March last year, we have noticed steady positive growth, with a strong increase in the number of partners that are transacting with us. This is a sign that the market is slowly bouncing back. We closed 2011 reaching almost the same level of business as in 2008. In summary with a certain level of optimism, I want to believe that we are ‘back to the future’.
Channel: What is Mindware’s focus for the year 2012?
MG: Mindware will continue to be focused on acquiring new customers and providing strong value-add to the channel. This has been the company’s mission statement during the last 20 years and we will not change from that. We are all committed to maintainining an updated long lasting successful formula made of dedication, hard work and exceptional customer service.
Channel: How many business units does Mindware have at the moment?
MG: We are organised as a distributor in three business units that include: Hardware and Components; Software Solutions and Networking. All in all, the entire portfolio comprises nearly 20 brands where we believe we can serve the channel comprehensively with all its needs.
Channel: In 2011 Mindware implemented a CRM and B2B platform, linking these to the company’s ERP system. How has this implementation improved your overall operational efficiency and delivery to channel partners?
MG: At the beginning it was definitely a challenge because we had to implement two new software applications and then link them together, but in the end, it has paid off in terms of rapidity of the response to customers and vendors, and ability to scale a large number of transactions with the same amount of time. In addition, we are now able to provide at any given moment, quality reports and full visibility to the vendors.
In a nutshell, we have reduced the amount of normal ‘human mistakes’ that can be associated to any type of manual transaction and we have minimised the time it takes for each operation. The recent Microsoft EMEA Award gained for operational excellence has been a nice recognition for a lot of work done by our Microsoft team and our internal systems group to bring the company to a higher level of efficiency.
Channel: You are one of the few distributors in the Middle East region with a strong software portfolio? Which is easier to distribute software or hardware solutions?
MG: Well both of them present challenges. Software doesn’t present the risk of inventory and stock depreciation, however, it is more difficult to scale up in terms of revenues and it requires a lot of channel education and quality support provided by a competent team of technical engineers that are able to understand the full project and all its specifications.
Channel: The last two years have seen a lot of momentum around cloud computing and cloud-based services. How is Mindware preparing for the cloud and services offered through this model?
MG: Cloud computing and software as a service (SaaS) are gaining territories, especially that last year it was referred to as the ‘magic word’. We can say that there is still a lot that has to be done around this cloud offerings in the region. Virtualisation on the other hand, is developing extremely well and we are proud to work closely with Citrix in serving the market with a strong value proposition. Citrix has also been making big strides when it comes to cloud strategy and Mindware has now been signed up as the Citrix Service Provider (CSP) distributor.
Channel: What role does the regional channel have to play in the delivery of cloud-based services?
MG: The channel has the responsibility to take control of a customer’s cloud strategy, including educating them about the impact of cloud computing within their businesses, designing, implementation and support of this model. You can classify the roles of partners in three primary categories namely, Cloud Builders; comprising partners that design the cloud strategy, Cloud Providers; who have capabilities to provide the solution and Service Enablers; partners that act as aggregators and provide managed services.
The channel’s role is to simplify, educate and support the transition to the cloud and cloud-based services, thus harnessing the power of cloud computing to drive new technological advancements, speed, innovation and save money.
Channel: What advice and support is Mindware offering to its channel partners in the Middle East to deliver cloud-based solutions effectively?
MG: We represent various vendors who have their own independent cloud strategies and offerings with which they are approaching the regional market. Mindware is currently acting as an aggregator of these strategies with the objective of educating the channel on these offerings and facilitating the transactions.