The acceptance of high-end business solutions is on the rise in the Middle East

Channel Post MEA speaks to Ravinder Kumar, General Manager of Sharp Middle East & Africa, about the business technology landscape in the Middle East, the solutions Sharp’s Business Solutions Division is focused upon and the company’s channel and marketing strategies for the months ahead

Ravinder Kumar, the General Manager at Sharp Middle East.
Ravinder Kumar, the General Manager at Sharp Middle East.

How has the business technology landscape shaped over the years in the Middle East region?
The business technology landscape in the whole of Middle East and Africa is driving towards an exponential growth. This is mainly due to market liberalization and the growth in the oil and gas sector. In addition, governments in the region are also adopting e-governance as a way to service their citizens better.

Though the recession during the last couple of years had an impact in this region, the Middle East and Africa markets recovered much faster than most global markets. Sharp Middle East as a company has always been at forefront of end-to-end business solutions in this region.

For years, we have brought in quality business solutions to our customers in this region and we continue to deliver world-class, reliable, innovative, and environmentally-friendly printing and document management solutions across the region.

What sort of solutions is Sharp’s Business Solutions Division focused on?
Sharp’s Business Solutions Division is at the core of the company’s regional operations. Though our key focus areas are Multi-Function Printers (MFPs) and Professional Displays, we also offer document management solutions, printing fleets, commercial display products and so much more.

Our target industry verticals include sectors such as banking, airports, digital signage, cinema, retail, and so on. In addition, our managed print services and document management systems are at the centre of Sharp Middle East’s printing solutions division, within the business solutions division.

These systems improve businesses’ efficiency through careful tailoring to each company and their print and copy requirements. Focus for business printing solution is also on getting customers in the region to make the switch from black and white to colour machines.

How is the copier and printer business doing in the region?
If we look at the Middle East and Africa market, we see that the volume of printing in the business segment is growing. There is also a rise in the use of colour printers and copiers in the business environment, which a couple of years ago was unheard of.

Also, many enterprises would like to now invest in say 2-3 high-end multi-function printers than invest in 10 entry-level printers so that asset management across the corporate environment becomes easier. Most companies are now getting rid of smaller printer and similar devices in favour of large MFPs.

Do you feel regional businesses are moving towards a greener / paper-free office? Is Sharp supporting such an initiative?
The general consensus after looking at the regional market is that companies are not moving towards paper-free offices at the same pace as it used to be probably a decade ago. Print is increasing and we see colour printing is on the rise.

What sort of channel and marketing strategies does Sharp have on the agenda for the months ahead?
Our focus for the months ahead is imaging solutions. As far as channel strategies are concerned, we work with one or two distributors in the each market, who in turn employ multiple channel partners within their network.

Most of the channel partners we work with today have been with use for decades. For Sharp’s display products though, we follow an open channel strategy. We also run channel development programmes, annual meets and so on, on a regular basis to boost the morale of our regional and local channel partners.