Vendor focus

Change to expand

Sofocles Socratous, Regional Sales Director, Seagate
Sofocles Socratous, Regional Sales Director, Seagate

Reseller ME caught up with Sofocles Socratous, Senior Director, EMEA Channel & Emerging Markets, Seagate Technology, at the company’s annual partner conference last month, to learn about its business focus.

What is new at Seagate?

Seagate is currently delivering positive results from a global perspective. We are beginning to see a good increase in traction in terms of the cloud business and also in a lot of vertical markets such as surveillance and NAS solutions. Storage too is definitely growing globally.

How important is the region?

The Middle East and Africa region is very important to Seagate for a number of reasons. It still represents up to 18 to 20 percent of the whole market. We continue to see local manufacturing and small partners upgrade the demand in PCs. Big technology growth is taking place in Northern Africa, from Kenya across to Nigeria and Zimbabwe and so on. We are also seeing growth in terms of vertical markets. The changes in regulations mean surveillance is becoming even more important. Because of this, we are beginning to see more surveillance solutions that require hard drive in them for digital and media recording. Also there are more startup businesses in this region, which further enhances the opportunities present here.

How do you see the uptake of cloud solutions growing in the region?

There are two types of cloud – personal and public. For personal, we see a huge increase and huge forecast for solutions for home use. On the public side, we see more and more data centres growing and expanding. And from the regional perspective, companies like DU are opening their own data centres because governments prefer locally regulated data centers.

Can you discuss the channel strategy in place?

Over the last few years, we have created the Seagate Premier Partner Programme, specifically for the indirect customers in the channel, which are value-added resellers, integrators and various types of customers. And what we offer to these partners is direct Seagate support benefits, which include direct technical support where we have a technical engineer who is available for integrators to help them design the products and to ensure that the right products go into the right solutions. We also offer support such as marketing investments and branding. They can also earn Seagate Premiere Partner points, which can be converted to financial income at a later stage. In addition to that, they get a dedicated Seagate account manager who visits them, trains and educates their staff, provides them with free samples and offers forward-looking roadmaps, so that they can keep up with the changing business environment.

Could you elaborate on the training activities that are in place for your partners?

There are two types of investments that we make – online and physical training.  Through the first type, they can go online to the Seagate Premiere Partner portal, where the access is limited only to them. They receive regular trainings about products and about the industry.

In addition to that, on a quarterly basis, we do training for our partner programme members across the region, where they are brought to one location and given training on products, new markets and education on market trends. Industry is constantly changing and business environments are dynamic, so it is important they change as well, to expand their businesses as this is the only way to survive and grow.

In terms of geographical expansion, is Seagate looking at any new markets?

We are making high investments in terms of people, resources, marketing and PR for Africa. That’s the space we are going towards. The adoption of the Internet within these countries is rapidly growing. You will see more and more devices being stored and purchased here. Also, the changing regulations in many of these countries, allow banking systems to operate differently, which allows global companies to operate in these parts.

 What is the outlook for the MEA market?

Outlook continues to be positive. This region is lagging behind about 18 months compared to Western Europe in terms of global markets and technology adoption. Social media, Internet banking and e-commerce is picking up rapidly here.

For Seagate, what is key is to work with indirect partners, to understand the end user better, as we adopt and develop products along this journey and it is a journey where the market and the industry is changing. We are looking to guide the partners to adapt and grow. We also want to support them and for this, SPPP is important for us.

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