In the recent days, National Distributor Neoteric Infomatique had been among the discussion in the channel arena on what the company is doing. An interesting finding is some global vendors which were preferring only e-sale are now selecting the traditional channel partner route. With more portfolio on place and change in the game play, Subroto Das, Executive Director, Neoteric Infomatique, in an exclusive chat with B Swaminathan, Associate Editor, shares the inside stories of Neoteric Infomatique and the external market scenario. Edited Excerpts:
B Swaminathan (Swami): What are the recent developments from Neoteric?
Subroto Das (Subroto): On the consumer business front, we became D-Link’s exclusive national distributor for its futuristic smart home and wireless products for consumers and SoHo. We also signed up with Creative for its range of speakers. Further, we added brands like Adam, Moshi and Laut for iPhone and iPad accessories. We are also one of the major distributors for Lenovo consumer PC business with significant share in the direct-to-retailer business. Our Logitech business is also growing significantly.
The components business is growing well. Despite de-growth in the assembled PC market, we have seen good growth of our motherboard, HDD and memory businesses.
Our Commercial BU is seeing remarkable growth with our focus on providing solutions and services to our partners. Over the past 3-4 years we have built strong competencies in infrastructure solutions, physical surveillance, enterprise communications, business process automation, open source software solutions and managed services.
We added 3D printers to our commercial product portfolio with partnerships with Fracktal Works and 3D Systems. Another significant partnership in 2015 has been with Honeywell for their barcode scanning and printing products.
There are plenty of changes happening within your organization in the recent days. Please clarify our readers what were they (If there is any).
Subroto: Over the past few years, Neoteric has acquired several new competencies through strategic partnerships in infrastructure solutions, physical surveillance, enterprise communications, business process automation, professional and corporate training, software services and managed services domains.
New competencies have helped us strengthen our enterprise and SMB business by offering a wide array of solutions and services to partners. Further, this has enabled us to help partners win several large and multi-locational deals, which the partners would have lost because of lack of multi-locational integration and post-sales support capabilities.
For instance, in a large government project, we closely worked with a partner to supply 31,000 tablets to Chhattisgarh government. Jointly with the partner, we helped them in commissioning tablets across the government colleges of the state and are providing warranty support at all locations. The project is expected to expand to 1 lakh tablets in 2016.
Swami: The lines between a vendor and customer are getting blurred. Most interactions and transactions are happening between them directly. How, the traditional channel has adopted or should adopt?
Subroto: Over the years, there have been forecasts by market pundits of dis-intermediation in the IT channel and that the relevance of the channel will diminish. However, this is not going to happen in our view. The relevance of channels has only strengthened over the time not just in IT industry but across all distribution-led industry verticals. In fact in the past three years, we have seen some very prominent global IT vendors who were earlier following a direct sales model in the past, are today aggressively pursuing the channel-led model. Role of partners will always remain integral to the technology industry.
Swami: If you can suggest any four solutions or product that most Indian partner should sell in 2016, what are they?
- With slew of government initiatives like Digital India and Skill India, the smart education solutions market in India is also expected to witness high growth.
- Security and surveillance is expected to emerge as a big opportunity for partners with Smart City initiatives from the government.
- 3D printers is another technology finding adoption among the sectors like medical, architecture, automotive, industrial, aerospace and military, jewelry and education.
- Further, smart home solutions is a big opportunity for partners in urban and semi-urban locations in India.
Swami: After the e-commerce space has entered, some distributors claim the market is clean while few claim it has created competition. Can you put in a simple form, what the recent e-market place has done in the channel industry?
Subroto: E-commerce is a reality that everyone in the IT industry has to accept including vendors, distributors and resellers. If you look at the developed countries, e-commerce exists alongside brick-and-mortar retail. And India will be no different.
Presently, we are in a phase of e-tailing where online players are trying every possible way to gain market share—including offering deep discounting on products. But as e-tailing matures and the hype subsides, online businesses will have to play by the rules.
Already, one can see the price differential between online marketplaces and physical retail coming down. Vendors too can’t afford to see e-tailers offer huge discounts as it undervalues the vendors’ brand and business. Several vendors in the past few months have taken steps to prevent price under-cutting by online players. Also e-tailers realize that they can’t forever offer deep discounts as it’s an unsustainable business model.
Swami: What are the top feedbacks your field executives give you on the current market scenario?
Subroto: As per our market feedback and estimates, IT market is growing in lower double digits, both on the consumer and commercial business fronts.
The market is awaiting government policy reforms and programs like Digital India, Smart Cities, Make in India to take off. GST is another much awaited reform which we expect to be implemented by the start of next fiscal year. All the policy and program initiatives by central and state governments will result in the investment cycle resuming soon in country.
Swami: What is the prediction of IT channel industry for 2016 and what is your company roadmap for the same?
Subroto: We expect customer demand to pick-up substantially in 2016 as the investment cycle kicks in. At Neoteric, we will continue to strengthen our product portfolio, expand our market coverage, and build our solutions and value-add competencies.
On the consumer side, we plan to add more digital lifestyle products and home safety and security products. On the commercial side of the business, our emphasis is on solutions like mobility, unified communications, smart education, interactive AV, surveillance solutions and 3D printing.
Swami: Tell us any three things which you are planning, going to thrill your channel partners very soon? (It can be a rebate or business model or training etc)
Subroto: Since our inception, Neoteric’s business philosophy has always been to launch latest products and brands, which require value-addition of training and enabling partners on one hand and creating customer demand on the other.
We enable and nurture partners through initiatives like ‘Explore & Evolve events’, which are designed for knowledge sharing and learning about best business practices that help partners introspect, develop new strategies and grow their businesses profitably.
We are excited to bring 3D printing technology to the market. We have already rolled out several initiatives to train and enable partners and raising customer awareness about 3D printing technology and you will hear us roll out more initiatives going forward.