Channeling partner thrust
Jean-Loup Desamaison-Cognet, VP, Region Central, Eastern Europe and Middle East Regions at Arrow ECS EMEA, talks about how the company has continued to build channel momentum in the regional IT distribution market.
Briefly outline Arrow ECS’ focus in the Middle East market and what’s been the group’s focus in 2015?
Jean-Loup Desamaison-Cognet: As a global value-added distributor of servers, data storage, network security, enterprise software, cloud solutions, virtualisation and access infrastructure, Arrow prioritises alignment with the vendors in the region, as well as initiatives in business development, and teaming up with enterprise vendors, particularly the medium size business market. Specifically for this region, we see growth opportunity because distributors do not have as strong a presence here as they do in other, more mature markets.
What is the status of the Middle East IT channel? Has business been growing for Arrow in the region?
The Middle East channel is stabilising, and while there are certain disruptions and limitations common to all growing economies, the region is a very attractive market for Arrow’s diverse products and services. In fact, according to IDC, spending on ICT products and services in the Middle East and Africa will cross the $270bn mark in 2015 and the IT market is expected to grow 9% year on year in 2015. Business has definitely been growing for Arrow and in light of these ongoing developments, we can only expect that it will continue to grow across the region, particularly as demand for mobility and smart city initiatives take centre-stage.
You have recently taken on the role as vice president in EMEA. What would you say is your priority for the company in this region?
The Middle East and Africa is the second-fastest growing market worldwide and certainly presents business opportunities and growth potentials for Arrow in the region. My priority is for the group to achieve healthy growth, which we plan to achieve by expanding our market share in regions in which we are not yet fully established, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Another priority is aligning with our partners’ initiatives from a technology and channel standpoint. In this respect, converged systems will be a key area of growth as more organisations in the region look to leverage the agility, productivity, flexibility, and cost-saving benefits presented by such solutions.
Under your leadership, how will Arrow achieve its objectives of growing its business with partners this year?
Vendors are expecting us to be their business development partners, to grow the channel, find new routes to market, and to make sure that their technology is visible as a solution from the channel perspective and this is exactly what we accelerate and offer to all our vendor partners. We complement the channel partners by providing the necessary insights into the market.
There are a lot of transitions happening in the Middle East IT market. Which are the most significant for your company and channel partners in the region, and why?
We believe in the potential of every country, and we believe that the Middle East in particular, presents tremendous opportunities for growth and development. We find that in spite of the drop of oil prices, demand is maintaining ground. Some key areas for development include infrastructure convergence, IT training and consulting. There are big solutions being implemented and big projects underway. For example, in some countries including Egypt, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, Arrow anticipates business to boom as demand for security and computing solutions grows with the development of these countries.
Describe the channel programmes and initiatives Arrow is implementing in the Middle East?
We offer solution providers with a global perspective of the latest technology trends such as big data, analytics, social media, convergence, security, networking, virtualisation and how these fit into the solution to help address customer needs. We provide channel enablement through seminars, training and marketing resources for demand creation so that solutions providers can better understand how to engage customer with the right solutions.
How has Arrow structured its business in terms of the number of business units and the core focus markets in the Middle East?
Arrow’s core focus market verticals are networking, data centre, security and the convergence of all these technologies.
With the escalating global security threats, how is Arrow evolving its security portfolio?
The security landscape is a constantly changing environment and these definitely are some of the exciting challenges that lie ahead of us. With the emergence of cloud, IoT and mobility, companies need to open up their internal networks to the outside world (mobility) and to all kinds of devices (IoT), which creates vulnerabilities. We bring enterprises a comprehensive perspective, safeguarding both physical and intellectual property, from before the assets are created all the way through their end of life. And although our approach is all encompassing, it’s never restrictive. We ensure enterprises’ data and interests are secure without inhibiting their employees, customers or innovations. In the Middle East region, our security portfolio includes Checkpoint, F5, Gigamon, IBM Security, Infoblox, McAfee, RSA, and Websense. We continue to look into expanding our offering portfolio to complement our exciting lines and help solution providers better address emerging market and business needs.
In what ways is Arrow creating a more positive experience for channel partners working with the company?
In Saudi Arabia, for example, as of last month, Arrow has begun door-to-door deliveries, which is a major advantage to vendors and resellers in the Kingdom. The resellers can focus on addressing customer needs and leaving us to facilitate the supply chain processes. Since we have the capacity legally and organisationally, Arrow can help the vendors and the resellers make sure their business practices align with the local regulations.
Which market verticals in the Middle East will drive majority of your growth in 2015?
We are focusing on large enterprises and have had particular success selling alongside our partners into verticals such as government, finance, banking and insurance, oil and gas, healthcare and hospitality. More recently we have been working closely with our vendors and channel partners to create opportunities in the mid-market and SMB space.
How is Arrow helping channel partners to leverage the alliances they have with the company to expand business opportunities?
Arrow is helping partners to leverage their alliances with the company by acting as a trusted advisor for legal compliance to the channel and to our vendor partners. In addition to legal compliance and our extensive professional services range, Arrow now provides support offerings for our channel partners’ customers’ in hardware and software environments, providing unrivalled support programmes such as premium telephone support, hardware and software replacement support and sanitisation to ensure our customers are compliant at all times. We are also an authorised training centre delivering certified training on an extensive range of vendors’ courses and modules, including F5, Infoblox, Q1Labs, RSA and Websense.
Which vendor brands do you have in your stable?
Currently, Arrow ECS does have quite a few brands it supplies to partners in the region including EMC, VSPEX Blue Hyper-Converged Infrastructure, Checkpoint, F5, Q1 and RSA.
What are the biggest opportunities for channel partners right now in the components and enterprise computing solutions space?
The biggest opportunities for channel partners include selling solutions, and solutions are getting more and more sophisticated. Solutions are getting to include big data, social analytics porting applications, all with a very strong security component, which requires complex engagements and deep channel insights, which Arrow provides on a global scale.
Where will majority of your business growth come from this year?
There are a number of drivers, including alignment with technology vendors and helping them expand geographical markets, helping solution providers to expand their portfolio to address needs of new or existing customers.