Partner Watch

Steady as it goes

Suresh Shetty, MD, at DataCare

The fifth annual IDC survey on the State of the Digital Data Universe found that the amount of data being stored is more than doubling every two years and could grow by 50 times by 2020. The results of the report were announced in June 2011 and IDC analysts said that today, 75% of the information comes from people using multiple mobile devices, to write text, share multimedia content such as music, photos and videos.

These people are generating huge amounts of unstructured data in addition to the existing mounds of traditional structured data that is driving the need for products and solutions that can store, manage and derive value from abounding mountains of data. The scenario, according to analysts, has serious implications for the channel, vendors and end users alike. “The growth of digital data is faster than the growth in storage capacity to store that data,” IDC said.

Contrary to the conclusion drawn by IDC, Dubai based IT wholesaler DataCare says the explosion in demand for secure and effective storage media has proved to be a lucrative opportunity.

According to Suresh Shetty, MD at DataCare the company was established in 2003 having identified the latent potential of the then nascent storage media market. The company initially focused on core data storage products and solutions, partnering with prominent vendors such as HP, IBM, Dell and Imation among others. A  few years since its inception,  DataCare then went on to deal in printer supplies, dealing in the latest products from vendors such as HP, Samsung, Epson, Canon, Lexmark and many more.

“It’s been a wonderful nine years, seeing DataCare grow to take the lead position in the data storage media distribution space. Today, we are one of the leading distributors of best- in-class data media, printer supplies, consumer IT products and hardware.  Early this year, we achieved the HP Preferred Partner status in addition to being an active member of the Dubai Computer Group (DCG). We also offer an extensive portfolio of integrated data protection and offsite backup services in addition to data destruction and secure disposal,” he says.

Shetty adds, “Over the past year, we have seen a shift in focus from aggressive cost cutting to emphasis on innovation. This naturally means greater funds being invested in IT to enhance productivity and efficiency in addition to enabling competitiveness. In the Middle East IT budgets are on the rise, with businesses ready to invest in newer technologies to support their business activities.  Enterprises across the region are showing marked interest in enabling flexibility and scalability through investments in virtualised and cloud environment in addition to the use of smartphones and tablets.”

In a vastly competitive market, Shetty says that there are three elements that IT resellers or distributors are rated on- credit terms, net price and logistics.

“As a company, we are very prudent when it comes to offering credit terms and never compromise on this aspect of business even if it means losing a deal.  Having said that, our ability to manage logistics in a manner that keeps costs low and supply moving has been key to our success so far. We always purchase in bulk and ensure we stock only the most popular, fast- moving products and solutions to keep the turnover healthy. In addition, as a brand we have focused on offering our customers the quickest quote and delivery in keeping with industry standards. Our keen understanding of market demand and ability to predict business dynamics helps us keep the overheads low to as to ensure our customers receive the best at the most competitive prices,” Shetty states.

“We have been able to maintain steady growth marked by lean inventories, safe receivables and healthy profitability despite having walked away from deals that involved compromising on the credit terms. In 2011, we tied up with other service providers for offsite data storage and data destruction to further extend our services portfolio and gain a competitive edge,” he adds.

In an industry marked by high attrition, DataCare’s ability to attract and retain employees is perhaps another point to its credit.

“We have had very low HR turnaround. Empowering and appreciation is the key to employee satisfaction and makes a good work environment. If the employees see value in their functions and are appreciated, they stay. We encourage career growth and entrepreneurship, and this why we believe that our employees stay with us. For instance, one of our oldest employees only just left us last month after nine successful years of service for no other reason but to start his own business,” he says.

Be that as it may, Shetty doesn’t deny that doing business in the UAE has its share of challenges.

“Being an export oriented market the UAE is marked by variability in revenues month after month. It limits one’s ability to plan and forecast because a lot depends on economic and market conditions in the surrounding markets of the Middle East and Africa.  Another challenge is the ability to judge the accuracy of credit ratings of organisations in the market. For instance, sometimes even the large corporate whom one would expect to follow contractual terms and conditions, tend to unrealistically delay payments. A regular credit check on these accounts is almost always inaccurate and you have no option but to go with your gut feeling,” he says.

He believes that it is these challenges to business that make surviving in the market so much more interesting. “Exports to neighbouring countries and the investments in developing in country and regional infrastructure give it immense potential,” Shetty says.

According to Shetty, the future will be brighter with more and more organisations beginning to reap the benefits of investing in innovation underpinned by significant investments in technology. “Across the data storage industry particularity, the demand is only going to continue to surge as both businesses and individual users generate data  at a tremendous rate.   On the consumer side, NAS boxes will become even more popular with limited storage on mobile and tablet devices while corporates will drive the demand for purpose built storage solutions and products,” he says.

Shetty says data media and printer supplies will remain the company’s core focus and it intend to further  strengthen its  position across both these product lines by adding new brands and products. “We believe that it is important to stay focused and not try and do everything.  This is why we continue to do business across the GCC, North Africa and South East Asia through our channel partners instead of investing directly. We believe being logical and conservative in our investments has been the root to our success over the last few years and so we plan to continue on with this simple yet effective strategy,” Shetty concludes. //

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