Channel, Enterprise, Features, Interviews, Security, Technology

Interview: Driven by Innovation

Anita Joseph caught up with Richard Hudson, Chief Revenue Officer at Zebra Technologies, to discuss how the company empowers partners to seamlessly transition to the digital space and resonate better with customers. 

What is Zebra Technologies’ perspective on the channel and what are the main areas of focus for your company?  

Zebra Technologies places paramount importance on staying attuned to prevailing market trends. Crucially, we advocate for the channel to establish a lucid and compelling value proposition that resonates with end-users. Our core strategy revolves around the seamless connection of frontline workers and the facilitation of efficient asset management for enterprises. We remain poised to harness emerging technologies in the market, firmly believing that the channel is well-positioned to capitalise on these evolving trends. 

In terms of our primary markets, we have a laser focus on retail, manufacturing, transport logistics, and government sectors, all of which we deem as pivotal segments. Our entire business model in this region is anchored in a 100% channel-centric approach. Within this framework, we maintain both one-step and two-step channels, boasting a world-renowned partner program that consistently delivers exceptional value. 

Amidst the backdrop of the pandemic, we’ve closely observed several emerging trends. These include the exponential growth of e-commerce, the pressing need for adept management of warehouse workforces, and the imperative to optimise costs. Notably, our product propositions seamlessly align with these evolving market dynamics, presenting the channel with promising avenues for growth. 

With the emergence of technologies like AI and ML, how do you think channel partners can effectively leverage these innovations to better engage customers and vendors? 

Zebra forges strategic partnerships that seamlessly complement our solutions. Our focus lies in addressing our customers’ challenges rather than merely showcasing individual features and functionalities. By collaborating with partners who share this vision, we empower our reseller associates to spot opportunities and adeptly position solutions in the market. This collaborative approach has yielded significant success, particularly in our mobile computing product range, where devices are tailored to meet precise business needs. 

As we navigate the landscape of emerging technologies, such as asset tracking and visibility, we’ve observed a surging demand for both active and passive RFID technology. Our current showcase features a diverse array of practical use cases, and it is paramount for our channel partners to seize these opportunities. Training takes center stage in this scenario. In the domain of asset tracking and location, we’ve introduced specialised training programs, facilitating our partners in gaining essential skills and accreditation. 

Furthermore, we are venturing into the realm of automation, with a particular focus on our fixed industrial scanning and machine vision segment. This expansion is a source of great excitement for us. To ensure our partners are well-equipped to navigate these cutting-edge technologies, training and certification are indispensable components of our strategy. Our commitment extends to substantial investments in research and development, driving continuous innovation, and providing steadfast support to our partners, enabling them to effectively serve our customers. 

What do you think are the unique features or opportunities in this region that distinguish it from the others you manage? 

While each market possesses its unique characteristics, some consistent themes endure, such as the imperative to foster connections with frontline workers, optimise asset tracking, and embrace automation. These themes align with the rapid surge in growth that we are currently witnessing in this region.  

There’s also a discernible surge in demand for solutions tailored to government and the public sector, presenting a promising landscape for substantial growth. A distinctive aspect of this region is the consolidation of many brands under a single family or group, diverging from our experience in other regions where we collaborate with individual brands. In this context, our aim is to develop solutions that can be seamlessly adopted across enterprises, a particularly pertinent endeavor given the presence of numerous Fortune 500 companies in the Middle East. The ability to adapt to the local business landscape and align with the unique requirements of these brands stands as a pivotal aspect of our strategy. 

What are some of the challenges that the channel industry faces today, especially in the context of emerging technologies and a rapidly changing business landscape? 

Remaining current in the ever-evolving market landscape poses a significant challenge for the channel industry, much like it does for all businesses. The market undergoes continuous transformation, with the rapid integration of new technologies, including AI, into mainstream operations. Consequently, the channel faces the task of developing and supporting practical use cases that can bring tangible benefits to their customers. This is why we actively engage with our partners to develop and meet  diverse use-case scenarios. 

Our partners understand the value proposition of a business and how they can derive profit from the deployment of integrated solutions while effectively servicing their customers. Staying abreast of the latest technological advancements is undeniably critical in this context. 

Furthermore, our two-step model plays a pivotal role in our strategy. Collaborating with a distribution network is instrumental in supporting our expanding network of resellers. With approximately 250 active partners in the region, maintaining a close partnership with distributors to ensure the right inventory mix is an indispensable aspect of our operational framework. 

 What are your plans for this region going forward? Does your company have any major initiatives or enhancements in mind for the channel? 

Our dedication to the channel remains strong, and we are committed to maintaining our exclusive focus on the channel in this region. At the recent Gitex event, we significantly increased our investments, resulting in the most extensive showcase we’ve ever presented in the region, underscoring our deep dedication. Within this showcase, we highlighted an array of new technologies and innovations that we believe will be of significant interest to our channel partners. 

Furthermore, our investment plans extend into the future, with particular emphasis on Saudi Arabia, where we anticipate substantial growth opportunities. Our Dubai-based team and regional resources will continue their support, aligning with our ongoing commitment to drive progress and innovation throughout the Middle East. 

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