Partner up

Top notch speakers at the Reseller Conference 2011 covered a wide gamut of channel topics including upcoming technology trends, value addition, vendor-partner relationships, cash flow and social marketing

On 12 June, Reseller Middle East kicked off its first conference directed at the partner community. The conference was a day-long, single track event, held at Westin Dubai, UAE. The highlights of the conference were intended to be the wide range of channel issues tackled by a high-level team of experienced industry leaders selected from vendors, distributors and consultants. The presentation content of each topic was set to appeal at an operational level rather than at a conceptual level.

The conference was kicked off by a short welcome address by Reseller’s senior editor Arun Shankar, after which the key note speaker was invited to the stage.

The keynote address for the conference was presented by Nassir Nauthoa, general manager, GCC, Intel Corporation. Nauthoa drew the attention of the audience to the increasing purchasing power of the emerging markets. The index used to track the changes in purchasing power of the markets is the number of weeks of income required to buy an average priced consumer laptop.

“In 1994, it required 151 weeks of income to buy a laptop in the emerging markers versus 6 weeks of income in developed markets. In 2010, the same comparison has changed to 12 weeks of income in emerging markets versus 1 week of income for developed markets. This shows that a vast segment of population in the emerging markets is moving towards affordable ownership of a PC or a laptop. Today, one billion people own a PC device, but 2.2 billion people can afford a PC and have not invested in such a device. A further 3.5 billion people still cannot afford a PC device. The engine of the emerging markets is so compelling that by end 2011 and early 2012, the total number of PCs shipped to the emerging markets will overtake the developed markets,” said Nauthoa.

He also pointed out the changing nature of the personal computing device. It is not just PCs and laptops which the growing segment of population will use for computing. By 2015, only 56% of mobile traffic will be generated by laptops. Rest of the traffic will be generated from smart phones, home gateways and others. The forms of computing devices are changing and the all-in-one PC screen, ultra-book, smart TV, tablet and netbook are all possible variants of today’s desktop PC.

However, according to him, this does not indicate a death knell for the PC.

“Intel envisions that by 2020 there will be four billion connected people, 31 billion connected devices and 25 million applications. The key drivers for computing devices will remain performance, security and connectivity,” he stated.

The round table discussion that followed the keynote discussed the growth dynamics across the Middle East. The participants were jointly made up of speakers from the Reseller Conference and some special invitees. The speakers of the conference who sat on the panel included Nassir Nauthoa, Intel Corporation; Meera Kaul, Optimus Technology and Telecommunications and Hesham Tantawi, Asbis.

The special invitees included Sukant Mishra, managing director, Octagon International; Prateek Dayal, channels & alliances director, Xerox Emirates; KS Parag, managing director, FVC; Parag Saxena, head of sales, Redington Value; Patrick Mulligan, general manager, Emitac Distribution. Reseller Middle East’s senior editor Arun Shankar, moderated the discussions.

The next pair of speakers after the panel discussion were Vasudevan KS, managing director, Satvik and Amir Sohrabi, regional alliances and partner development manager Middle East, SAS. Both addressed the issue of analysis to aid in channel sales.

This was followed by Meera Kaul, MD at Optimus Technology and Telecommunications. Her theme was around possible value addition by a distributor in the channel market. With channel sales accounting for 60%-80% of IT vendor sales, the role of a channel player is vital in today’s market. A channel player is faced with the task of differentiation from other players and the increasing demand from customers, but is probably the only one who has a deep understanding of a customer’s complex

Kaul presented how a channel player can leverage on this fact and be better prepared to address tomorrow today.

An important topic before lunch was counterfeit products in channels by Ernest Azzam, business manager, Laser and Enterprise Solutions, HP. Azzam pointed out that the current market size for counterfeit products is $775 billion and will cross a trillion dollars n in 2015. The number of jobs lost because of this illegal trade in G20 countries alone is two and half million.

According to Azzam, a starting point for corrective measures is an end-user corporate policy that avoids purchase of counterfeit products. Around 70% of UAE companies have no such anti-counterfeit policy in place.

After lunch, the audience was presented with a business focussed and well directed presentation by Hemayun Bazaz, channel manager, HP Networking. Bazaz explored in straight-forward language disconnects that sometimes exist between vendors and reseller partners in the channel space.

Partners complain that vendor programs are complicated in terms of rebates, available marketing support and specialisation training programs. Vendors complain that partners do not make an effort to understand their programs and miss out on financial returns. Bazaz stressed that the solution lay at the half-way mark, both sides making an effort to meet mid-way.

Continuing on the economical perspective of the market, one of the other topics discussed was the dynamics of exports out of UAE. Dr Ashraf Ali Mahate, head of export market intelligence talked about the need to export out of UAE in the face of growing entry of low cost players and development of production scale.

The next topic addressed by Hesham Tantawi, vice president, Asbis was on bottlenecks in the channel. Tantawi chose to focus on explaining the drivers of sales in the current market, types of pricing, the
relation between value and price, and some key parameters of profits. An interesting numerical example showed that a 10% improvement in lead generation and conversion process actually yields 46% increase in sales and 61% increase in profits.

The last session of the day was addressed by John Andrews, director of marketing MEA and APAC, Computerlinks, on the subject of zero cost marketing and the power of social communications. The
Reseller Conference concluded with a vigorous question and answer session directed at a panel made up of speakers again. Speakers participating in the end of day session included Meera Kaul, Hesham Tantawi and John Andrews.

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