Gary Hopwood, the recently appointed Manufacturing Channel Manager for Infor has been in the region for the last 20 years. His first stint was with GBM and from then on, has worked with a number of organisations in the country, which were primarily hardware-based. Transitioning into software around six years ago, Hopwood moved to Infor in November last year, from SAP. Confident with an affable personality, Hopwood hopes to develop the company’s partner community in the region, drawing from his experience in direct sales.
What are your key responsibilities in your new role?
My role effectively is channel sales manager for the manufacturing space for Infor across the geographical area, so I manage UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Libya and Egypt from a channel sales perspective but purely within the manufacturing space. In Infor, we have different industry verticalisation, my role is specifically in the manufacturing component of that.
What kind of growth are you seeing in this region?
It is growing in terms of revenue. We have actioned an investment plan over the last six to 12 months after a recent visit by the CEO. It is now coming to a fruition and we are starting to bring in some more people, which will drive the growth even further. Currently, we are looking at revenue numbers in excess of 20 percent, specifically in the manufacturing space.
The growth has been a bit slower in developing new partners. With the new investment plan, we aim to develop the partner community, which is also one of my key objectives.
We have around 25 partners in the region today. And the plan is to enhance and develop that. The idea is not to add 100 new partners but to add partners in specific territories, which will increase value to the business proposition.
How do you plan to get more partners on board? Is there a strategy in place?
We have a strategy from a corporate perspective where we are utilising the experience and skill set from people like myself that are in the channel sales team to target specific partners that we know in that particular space or geography. We are also running certain number of events to target new partners and demonstrate the value proposition from the company’s perspective. We do marketing campaigns where we target partners and customers within a particular space to develop sales opportunities and so on. And we are also enhancing the Infor Partner Network (IPN) programme here, for example we are currently recruiting a channel recruitment head. And that person will be responsible for effectively going to the market and identifying opportunities with new partners and going through the processes of bringing those partners on board.
Could you discuss the sales strategy in the region?
Sales strategy is channel-based because it works better in the region, as customers want localisation from a support perspective. And from Infor perspective, we don’t have the infrastructure here today to manage a direct business, therefore, the strategy has always been to work through our partners. And although my background is in direct sales, the idea is to bring on board, experience and expertise into the Infor space of dealing and managing with large customers but doing that within the umbrella of partner-led sales effectively.
What is the way ahead for Infor?
In terms of growth, the expectations will exceed the 20 plus that we have been seeing over the past couple of years. It is the case of getting the message out to the market about the proposition that Infor can bring to customers. And from a partner perspective, it is identifying who can work together with us, to go out and target specific industries and to develop that value proposition. That is the key aspect for us currently, identifying which partners are open to work with Infor and have the skills and capabilities in the application space that we operate in.
Our focus, currently, is ensuring that these building blocks are in place. We have the right partners in the right countries that have the right experience levels to go out and develop the business. There is massive opportunity at the moment, across the Middle East in terms of the economic climate. We need to make sure that we are there to ride that wave and provide the value to the customer we know we can bring. This is something, we have demonstrated back in Europe and in the States. And now we need to replicate that in this region.