Channel partners such as World Wide Technology (WWT) are increasingly dealing with a myriad of competing products, saturating the marketplace and confusing customers in the process.
A confused customer is not a happy customer - as the saying goes - leading the global technology provider to innovate from within in a bid to add new levels of end-user value.
An example of this is WWT’s advanced technology centre, enabling customers to evaluate vendor products before they make a purchasing decision.
Furthermore, WWT’s offerings must integrate within the customers’ technology ecosystem to ensure dealings are streamlined and simplified.
“There is just far too many competing products in the market,” said Nilesh Mistry, head of APAC, WWT. “It is hard for our customers to be able to evaluate these technologies.”
In operating as a system integrator, WWT sees value in bringing such varied technologies together.
But market confusion is rife, meaning initiatives such as the advanced technology centre go along way in assessing the best approach to integrating solutions to deliver customer outcomes.
“We have been doing a lot of the heavy lifting for our regional partners, and helping to create more clarity through the utilisation of our advanced technology centre,” said Mistry, speaking exclusively to Channel Asia.
“The focus is always on the business outcome and the impact these technologies will have for our customers.”
Mistry continued by emphasising that the challenge is enabling such clarity, not just for the customers, but for the vendors as well.
“They [vendors] are already competing with each other and stepping on each other's toes,” said Mistry. “To be able to provide that clarity, not only for our clients but also for ourselves, in terms of what is resonating well with regional customers.”
In this regards, it is important that not just vendors and partners work closely together, but customers too.
In the age of digital disruption, customers need a reliable partner, imparting advise and sound expertise when needed.
This in turn creates a more secure position that allows a young enterprise to scale and increase their market position and ultimately revenue.
During the last financial year, WWT exceeded US$10 billion in revenue, with US$1.75 billion coming from outside the US, where the tech giant is headquartered.
Furthermore, 40 per cent of the company’s revenue came from the Asia Pacific region, equating to US$700 million, with the other US$1.05 billion coming from Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and South America.
“In the Asia Pacific region, most of our customers fall into three categories,” said Mistry, namely banking, technology, and pharmaceutical, which generate the bulk of the revenue.
In the Asia Pacific region, the provider operates across 13 countries, with their regional head office in Singapore and Cisco and Dell EMC ranking among the partners strongest vendor alliances.
To facilitate future growth, WWT has continued to expand its operations across the region recently, with the opening of a new sales office in Singapore, as well as the expansion of its Singapore technology centre.
As reported by Channel Asia, the Singapore technology centre is a 48,493-square foot facility that includes an 8,673 square foot lab environment offering logistics and integration services, providing solutions in areas of collaboration, compute and cloud, mobility, networking, security, software and storage.
“We are continuing to grow our capabilities to meet the need of our global enterprise customers,” said Mistry. “The key focus areas have been around cloud, automation, software-defined services, networks, and storage.
“We will also be focusing on security and will continue to grow that capability across the region.”
According to Mistry, WWT is also looking at expanding its reach to other Asia Pacific cities, “we are doing that to provide more systems integration and advisory services to our customers.”
Another area of expansion for the company is building centres of excellence in key locations around digitalisation, digital transformation, artificial intelligence (AI), and the Tnternet of Things (IoT).
“We are engaging with regional enterprises to help them also realise their digital transformation aspirations,” said Mistry.
The nature of digital disruption is driving the organisation to scale much quicker than before, as customer demands continue to increase.
“We are interacting directly with the business departments these days, as opposed to the technology departments,” said Mistry.
“The reason for this is that we are finding that the business departments are the ones that are owning the digital transformation vision, as well as the budget.”
Mistry sees WWT attracting rival business in the region because of the launch of their advanced technology centre, a key contributor of this is the lack of available regional talent and resources in the market.
“Which is holding back the industry and a lot of the innovation that customers are aspiring to,” said Mistry. “The regional skills gap is especially pronounced when it comes to areas such as automation, machine learning, and AI.
“There is very good technology out there but very few experienced practitioners.”
As a result of this, WWT finds it necessary to bring a lot of expertise in these domains from other regions to help clients source opportunities across Asia Pacific.
The skills gap is a worldwide challenge and not unique to this region, but it is especially pronounced in Southeast Asia, specifically around machine learning and AI.
“I think for automation, there are more and more skilled individuals starting to become available, especially coming out of China and India,” said Mistry. “In general, there seems to be a lack of experience.”
However, it is not all doom and gloom, with Australia providing adequate automation talent and India for its big data, machine learning, and AI talent.
With a young workforce and increasing levels of investment, there is a great opportunity to drive more global innovation out of Southeast Asia.
“We have seen that with our investments in Singapore, and our talents and development capabilities coming onto the marketplace,” said Mistry. “I feel strongly that both the partners and organisations like us need to really focus in on that and embrace it.
“That needs to be done jointly. There is a real big opportunity there.”
However, challenges still persist, especially around compliance, “channel partners really need to work together with the customers and for authorities and regulators to be able to find the right information,” said Mistry.
“We also need to work together to address the digital talent gap as it continues to hold back digital innovation.”