The optimist

Vineeth Sebastian, regional sales director, MEA, MMD and AOC, talks about the company’s channel strategy for the Middle East and Africa, and why he is bullish about business in 2015.

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The optimist
By  Manda Banda Published  June 16, 2015

“Our channel strategy is very clear and we have explained this consistently to our partners. We have developed a three-pronged channel strategy, which focuses on exclusive distributors for each market, we have separated AOC and Philips distributors in each market to lessen conflict (with the exception for KSA) and thirdly, we have focused on the second tier channel to keep the momentum going through the loyalty programmes we roll out.

“This has been a deliberate move to ensure that all our distributors and reseller partners are profitable,” he said.

The next phase in the company’s story is a stepped-up pace of product and channel innovation. In fact, MMD and AOC is rolling out a number of major channel initiatives aimed at taking its channel business to another level through the umbrella programme PartnerNET.

“The moment we know we have a channel partner that wants to do business with us, we on board them on our web portal called PartnerNET. The brands AOC, Philips and MMD all have PartnerNET, where channel partners can login to get product specs, sales kits, information, and other useful tools and resources to help them with their own businesses. “PartnerNET is the first interface for any channel partner that wants to get in touch with us. It has all the vital information on product and business updates, newsletters, new products and it’s the first level of engagement with the company,” he added.

He said the other issue depending on the country, the company engages quite vigorously with tier two channel partners by helping them to identify the products they should be buying based on their business models and requirements. “We have direct interaction with tier two channels from AOC and Philips all due to the way we have designed the PartnerNET portal. We have designed this direct interface with channel partners to assist our distributors with the partner management side and demand generation activities,” he said.

Investing more in partner resources, having clear market and product segmentation and leveraging partners broadly to sell its products is all part of the concerted effort to bring back the belief and assurance that the monitor business is not dying.

Sebastian added that rather than target specific industry verticals, the company has segmented its product portfolio into B2B, B2C and gaming. “We address the B2B with our Professional array with AOC and Philips, and target the B2C segment with the AOC Style line and there is a comprehensive portfolio for consumers in this bracket,” he said. “And for the price conscious SMB user, we have the Value range. All these products cater to the entire segments in the market. Similarly, we have the same product lines for the Philips brand.”

As channel business models of the past have been challenged by the evolving IT sector and the transitions happening in the technology sector, many channel partners have struggled to keep up with the pace at which the market is changing.

Sebastian said there are two things that are happening, which in the next year will bring changes in the market. The first, according to Sebastian is connectivity. “Today, we are talking of connectivity everywhere whether it’s on our mobile phones or tablets, we need connectivity. So what about our monitors,” he asked? “We have innovated USB-based small monitors, which help to have a monitor where ever you may be on the move.”

He added that the other issue is that users are demanding for more high definition technology on their displays. “There is a shift to ultra-high definition monitors and the acceptance of these panels is growing at a tremendous rate. The technology industry is transforming itself into the ultra-high definition space so I see monitors going in that direction in the near future,” he said. “I see interactive TVs go one step further. We have Miracast technology in our products, which allows your monitor to connect to a laptop, smartphone, tablet and the same screen is replicated on all the screens.”

He said all these advances in monitor and displays technology will have a profound impact on savvy channel partners that are able to offer solutions.

He reiterated that the company has never hesitated in its commitment to partner success in the region. “Our partner commitment doesn’t go up and down by year; it doesn’t go up and down by economic times, or in market transitions. We are a channel partner-driven organisation and we shall remain like this,” he said.

Looking to the future, Sebastian urged partners to continue working with MMD and AOC as there is room for resellers to earn decent margins. “We want partners to make acceptable margins from doing business with us in a fair and transparent manner,” he said.

He emphasised that with the volatility in the market, partners are not at risk of losing their investment by doing business with AOC or MMD as the components and peripherals space can easily get impacted by currency fluctuations and market unpredictability. “We have made sure that our monitor business remains healthy and this gives channel partners peace of mind knowing that their investment in our brands will yield ROI for their business. That is our competitive edge in the market,” he said.

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