Hank Lee, Manager – South Asia, ATEN International, in a conversation with CRN’s Rachana Jha, speaks about ATEN’s presence in the Indian market and the diversified strategies for channel partners across different regions
What is your perception of the Indian market, and how are you coping with the competition here?
The Indian market is a very promising economic entity. We consider Taiwan as an IT island for hardware and India as a software kingdom. So, it is an interesting combination between Taiwan and India. Currently we are bringing our innovative technology to India as the IT vertical is booming. We are sensing more and more big data center deployments in the near future. Speaking about the enterprise segment, majorly MNCs and the government sector are all looking towards Digital Transformation initiative, led by Indian Government. This is a great opportunity and the right direction for ATEN as we will be contributing directly to this big IT wave.
In India, the future of AV looks promising than other industries because as far as innovation is considered, Indians invest a lot in their meeting rooms, auditoriums and showrooms. The notorious price sensitivity does not stop Indians from investing in high quality AV products. ATEN while emphasising on high quality has managed to merge IT and AV, taking India through a radical transformation on both sides. As everything is available in India, i.e., from the top end to Chinese brands, we see a potential market.
In terms of digitalisation what are the challenges you have found in India, vis-a-vis the other markets ?
In digital transformation, the first thing to consider is security. The second challenge is to deliver the real value solutions of digital transformation. Our products can fulfill most of the criteria. But nowadays, as everything is defined by software, the risks are always prevalent. Considering the products, the best security solution is a hardware solution because if customers want to access data centers, they need to access our security switch first, then access their server. Our switch is however difficult to hack, compared to software as we provide different levels of security access. This factor makes us the primary differentiator from our competitors.
What is ATEN’s go to market strategy? How well do you think ATEN is doing in the GTM context?
GTM strategy is very basic or traditional. Our complete emphasis is on providing good service. In India you have very wide territories and we are able to provide our customers a convenient way to access our products. We are looking for more partners and educate them with the technology and products we handle. Appointment of regional distributors, system integrators and good relationship with the government helps us to grow in the Indian market.
Please give an insight into your national distribution model and regional distributional model for penetration into the Indian market.
We now use both the models. I don’t think India is a single nation. I strongly believe India is multi-nation and multi-territory. We need to set up different marketing and channel strategies targeting various regions. Our channel model is strong enough to conduct the business. Secondly, we are keen on promoting our business development sales force. We deliver ATEN’s value directly to big accounts.
How many partners do you have at present?
Now we have one, a national distributor. And, we have multiple regional distributors under the national distributor. We work with regional distributors directly to leverage or empower them, to penetrate into market and then bring the business to the national distributor. National distributors put our stock in their IMA center. Gradually we will empower our regional distributors to have the ability to deliver the service so that everyone can access our primary service centers easily from every region.
How are your targeting SMBs in India? Can you throw some light on the whole scenario?
Our partners are doing quite well in the SMB space. By pushing our existing channels we are able to provide all product lines for the SMB market. Market share in the SMB sector is very good. As ATEN India has a remarkable presence in India, now our target would be medium and large scale corporates. These companies are looking for innovative technologies and we are preparing to cater to innovative solutions by incorporating our latest technology.
Which region of India gives you the maximum revenue ?
South India is the IT hub and we generate more revenue from this region. Each region has its own characteristics. In the north, the government sector and in the west, BFSI contributes to the growth as these are high potential markets. Sometimes, the east also contributes well.
Do you plan to expand your footprint in the North East region as well ?
This will be the second stage. Right now we are focusing on increasing our manpower in the south and the west. We are not directly engaged in NE. Our partners are already performing quite well there. We get more tender-based projects from the NE region. We need some time to build the relationship to adapt to the culture there to fully-fledged conduct the business.
How well defined is your channel ecosystem? What steps are you taking to penetrate the market and make your partners focus on innovation?
Training is the most important part to implement the channel business. We have also launched some digital marketing campaigns to raise our brand name and deliver relevant information to our potential customers. Our core ideology is to deliver hands-on training. Our pre-sales team goes to our major product partners to deliver product training or hands-on training and certify them.
We also visit end-users to collect pain points, to see what kind of solutions they can adopt. With our different product line, we can combine solutions to solve their problem. Therefore it’s a solution based ecosystem.