VM Chandrasakar, MD and CEO at regional distributor Global Distribution FZE, is upbeat about the company’s business prospects in 2015. The company spent most of 2014 onboarding reseller and vendor partners, and says it expects its investments to start having a positive bearing on the channel.
Global Distribution added a number of brands during the course of 2014. Talk us through the business model and the different business units you have currently.
Global Distribution has three main business units namely IT and Mobility Distribution, Private Label and Solutions Distribution. In the distribution units we have added a number of new distribution agreements and extended our existing distribution agreements to new territories. In IT and mobility distribution, we have added ZTE, which is an exclusive distribution alliance for the UAE and G-Smart Mobile Phones. We have also extended our product offering into the mobility segment.
The IT products category has seen the addition of SanDisk, Toshiba and Seagate/LaCie to new territories Global Distribution operates. Our Private Label has been successfully launched in India, Europe and the Americas. We are planning to launch the Private Label business in the Middle East at the end of q1 2015. The Solutions Distribution team has built a complete stack of enterprise IT solutions vendors to cater to the growing data centre requirements in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
Briefly explain your operations and the business strategy you have adopted for the Middle East market in 2015?
Last year was not just a year of expansion geographically and adding new vendors, but it was also a year of building a strong central management team to strengthen the operational efficiency. Key achievements have been made in the following divisions: HR, Finance, Supply Chain/Logistics and Sales, not just in the Middle East, but in all countries we operate in. In 2015, we plan to continue doing the good work we have kick-started and explore further efficiency improvements.
How challenging is the IT distribution market at the moment across the region?
The IT distribution market has always been challenging and will always be challenging, not just in the Middle East, but all around the world. Operational excellence and tight controls are key to success, coupled with a sense to continuously accessing new technology trends.
How was business for Global Distribution last year and what would you say is the company’s key focus area in 2015?
Global Distribution has continued to grow in double digit and achieved its financial goals, despite solid investments in new business and territories, which we are very proud of.
What has been your company’s focus in terms of the channel development?
As we have entered into new distribution segments, such as mobility and solutions, we have mainly invested into new sales units and recruited top industry talent to lead these initiatives. We have also done a number of reseller events in UAE, Uganda and Qatar to promote our products, services and solutions.
How many vendor brands do you currently represent?
The Solutions portfolio currently represents more than 15 enterprise vendor brands. The High Performance Computing Unit, represents Fujitsu Primergy Servers, Optoma AV Solutions and HP. Our Enterprise Storage Unit, addresses all requirements of storage from tier one to back-up and has SanDisk FusionIO, Pure Storage, Fujitsu Externus Storage, Overland Storage and V3 virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and Tandberg Data. The Software and NAS Unit promotes Kaspersky and SolarWinds on the Software side and QNAP, Seagate NAS and Synology, along with a comprehensive HDD and SSD offerings. In addition, we have the IT Infrastructure and Physical Security Unit, which offers Linkcomn, Datwyler, ZyXel and Mobotix. This unit is helping to build “Layer-0” infrastructure.
What support are you receiving from your vendor partners?
All our vendor partners have made significant investments into local teams and support structures, demo units and proof of concepts (POC), marketing funds and channel enablement (both commercially and technically).
Are there any brands or solutions that are still missing in your product and solutions portfolio?
At present, the solutions portfolio is able to address all data centre requirements, which comprise High Performance Computing, Enterprise Storage, IT Infrastructure and Physical Security and Software (mainly comprising infrastructure monitoring). There are a few more vendors we are in final discussion to complete the missing elements. Areas we are still keen to develop in 2015 are: BI/analytics, data security, automatic identification and data capturing (AIDC) and digital signage.
What core vertical markets is Global Distribution helping channel partners to target in the region?
Global’s wide product array is able to support our channel partners to cater to all verticals, including retail, SMB/SME and large enterprises. The Solutions Distribution division in particular, has developed a product portfolio to address key industry trends, such as out-of-the-box solutions, Converged Infrastructures, VDI and IP-based CCTV.
Where will majority of your company’s growth come from in in 2015?
Global has a very balanced vendor array and great geographical spread. We’ll see the growth coming from the investments we have made in the past years and from new initiatives and territories. In the Middle East in particular, we expect a strong contribution from our Solutions Distribution and Mobility businesses.
What will be key for Global Distribution to sustain its growth going forward?
As pointed out earlier, our ability to execute is a key strength and has given us strong year on year growth. This has made the group’s entire global operation to cross the important $1bn revenue milestone.
How is Global Distribution addressing the issue of skills with your reseller partners?
The lack of skills in the Middle East has always been a challenge. However, with customers being more demanding in terms of service and support, the channel community in the region has to step up and truly embrace solutions-selling and build a service-driven business model. I predict 2015 in particular, will be a year of selling ROI instead of product specifications. For that, not just technical skills are key, even the sales team has to gear up to be able to address those challenges.
What new channel initiatives, programmes or incentive schemes will you be rolling out this year for your resellers, retail and SI partners?
We are not planning for anything new in particular, but will have just more frequent channel activities, such as reseller events, road shows, round tables, technical enablement sessions and, training and knowledge transfer. As 2014 was the year of on boarding new vendor partners, this year will be about growing our channel partner ecosystem across the region.