NWME: What key opportunities do you see this market?
Soga: Compared to western countries, we see a continuous growth and investments in the Middle East and Africa region. We are looking to tap that growth and support our local team.
NWME: Are there any specific verticals you are focusing on?
Soga: One area is certainly broadcast, which is making a transition from standard definition to high definition, throwing up lot of opportunities. We also see many opportunities in security, display and healthcare. Education is another segment where we are seeing continuous investment.
NWME: Is Sony planning to change its current go-to-market strategy?
Soga: I must say dealers and distributors are important to us to grow the business. Having said that we need to understand the customer needs, and that’s where events like this help us establish direct contact with end users and understand what they need. The way we do business will continue to be through partners. In other words, direct communication with end users but business through channels.
NWME: Do you have any direct-touch accounts?
Soga: We already have direct-touch accounts in the broadcasting sector. In terms of non broadcasting business we may start dealing with some key accounts directly where channel will play the fulfilment part.
NWME: Sony is perceived as a technology company. Can you really provide solutions that have a direct impact on end-users’ businesses?
Soga: It depends on their requirements and applications. In the case of broadcast, we can almost provide all the products and solutions. But in the case of business and industrial applications customer requirements are different. So we do supply security cameras, but not wiring and all other accessories.
NWME: Do you think IP-based systems will make analogue cameras obsolete in the near future?
Soga: Analogue will not disappear, and it’s growing. However, IP is growing much faster, thanks to features like camera intelligence, wireless capabilities, etc. Many of the new security installations are going for IP. But in the case of customers with existing analogue infrastructure it’s difficult to justify the investment. We support both, but with the CCTV market getting more competitive and price conscious, our focus is more on IP.
NWME: Sony practically invented the videoconferencing technology. However, other vendors have made some headway in the higher-end of the conferencing market. Are you playing catch up?
Soga: Yes, we were little bit to slow to get started in the high-end videoconferencing market. With HD 80, we are introducing high performance, very easy to use and affordable solutions.
NWME: How do you differentiate Sony from others in that market space?
Soga: Technology, cost- performance, picture quality, and of course our wider portfolio. We go beyond box solutions.
NWME: What are you doing to make it more affordable and reach masses?
Soga: As you know, we already desktop systems. We are investigating the market opportunity for HD on desktops.
NWME: Is your system integration business focused only on the broadcast market?
Soga: Primary focus is on broadcast, but we would like to expand the integration business. There are areas where we are can step in. For example, we would like to be a one stop solution provider in the areas of signage and security.
NWME: Do you have an application developer community, especially for the security business for features like video analytics?
Soga: We do have our own technology for video analysis, we call it DEPA. There are a number of software application developers for security with expertise in different applications or verticals. So we have been collaborating with ISVs, as we cannot provide all the software. They are building applications on our platform.
NWME: How much of your revenues come the services business?
Soga: We cannot really disclose the size of our services business, but it’s certainly a growing are with more and more customers asking for maintenance agreements.
NWME: What has been the overall growth for Sony professional solutions in this region?
Soga: For the last three years, we have been experiencing a 20% year on year growth. We have a diverse portfolio, and major growth is coming from broadcast and Ipela range of products.
NWME: What are your customers telling you? Are there any common themes?
Soga: Many customers prefer one stop solution. We didn’t have much of an opportunity to interact with B&I customers and this event is tailored fill that gap.
NWME: How do you rate the maturity and technology adoption in this market?
Soga: From our point of view, they need education and training. We have technology, products and solutions, but there is a gap in communication. We are making efforts to take an educational approach to the customer. What’s impressed me about this market is the attitude to learn and users are open to embrace new technologies in areas where they lag behind .