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INTERVIEW: Ferhad Patel, Intel

by Stuart Wilson, Monday 22 September 2014

Ferhad Patel is the director of the reseller channel organisation (RCO) for Asia Pacific (APAC) and Japan at Intel. He is responsible for delivering on all key elements of the RCO including revenue and growth with distribution, Intel technology providers and the branded channel. Intel is a Gold Sponsor of next month’s DISTREE APAC event in Singapore. Channel APAC caught up with Patel to learn more about the vendor’s plans for the event.

Channel APAC (CA): What does Intel want to achieve at DISTREE APAC 2014? What are your key goals for the event?

Ferhad Patel (FP): Intel’s strategy is to embrace computing in all its forms and to focus on establishing new technologies and respond to our customers’ needs quickly. With a host of new technologies entering the market, from tablets, NUCs, wearables and media devices – there have never been more opportunities for our channel partners to grow. DISTREE APAC 2014 is the ideal setting for us to demonstrate how to realise the huge gains to be made by partnering with Intel.

At the event, we will showcase the latest Intel-powered products available today alongside our strong roadmap for the future and how these will unlock business opportunities for our partner ecosystem. We want attendees to leave with a solid understanding of how Intel is committed to investing and innovating across our entire portfolio, as well as the new and exciting platforms coming to market, such as tablets and smartphones. Additionally, at DISTREE APAC 2014 Intel will demonstrate how we are delivering integrated, scalable hardware and software solutions to support companies as they look to take advantage of industry trends including the Internet of Things (IoT) and business mobility.

Next Unit of Computing (NUC)

CA: What products and solutions will Intel be showcasing at DISTREE APAC 2014? What do you want distributors and retailers to know about your portfolio?

FP: Tablets, 2 in 1s, Next Unit of Computing (NUC) and other form factors. Each area represents key growth opportunities for partners over the next twelve months. DISTREE APAC 2014 attendees will leave knowing that regardless of their individual offerings, Intel can work with them to unlock the potential value of their respective sectors.

Take IoT for instance. We want partners to know that Intel is delivering the technologies enabling them to support customers on their IoT strategies, such as integrated, scalable device-to-cloud solutions and services for intelligent devices, gateways accelerating the connection of legacy systems, and end-to-end analytics transforming big data into actionable information.

CA: Describe how Intel’s channel business has developed in the past 12 months? What trends have you seen and what have been the highlights for your business?

FP: The ongoing highlight for us at Intel is that our results show the strength of our strategy to extend the reach of Intel technology from the data centre to tablets to the IoT. Traditional assumptions around consumer and enterprise understanding of IT and the value it can deliver are being challenged, driving renewed excitement and interest from our partners across Intel’s broad range of offerings.

We’re always exploring new innovative technologies and ways to interact with technologies – spanning the entire computing portfolio – we can build into our offerings to help partners support their customers and enhance the value they deliver. It’s been great to work with our partners over the past 12 months as they’ve helped customers tackle traditional as well as modern business challenges like implementing effective mobility strategies. Intel is excited to build upon these relationships as new technologies and challenges appear.

Tablet goals

CA: Which geographic areas and channels represent the greatest opportunity for growth for Intel in APAC?

FP: Such is the excitement in all forms of computing at the moment that almost every sector represents a significant growth opportunity. For instance, we expect some PC segments to realise 20% growth this year, and with 40% of desktops sold through the channel powered by Intel, this is a massive opportunity for us and our partners.

Another big focus for Intel is ensuring the channel is ready for tablets. At the end of 2013 we had more than 64 tablet designs supporting both Windows and Android, while this year we have a big, audacious goal of selling 40 million tablets – a number we’re currently on target to meet. One third of those tablet sales will be through the channel, meaning it’s yet another growth opportunity for all parties involved.

IoT also holds great profit potential for all involved in the year ahead if partners are willing to transform their businesses, with countless industry reports highlighting the potential gains to be made. There’s a raft of related opportunities in retail, healthcare and manufacturing, and we’re focused on unlocking these with our partners.

Finally, server sales are an area of growth for Intel in 2014, with demand driven by cloud, high-performance computing, telecom, enterprise and SMB. The great thing about servers for the channel is that they require consultative selling – something no-one does better than the channel.

CA: Why should distributors focus on Intel products? What makes your channel proposition better than competitors in the market?

FP: We believe the Intel ecosystem can transform the channel, by developing areas such as the datacentre all the way to smart devices, or simply a home PC. We have experts and products covering the entire computing portfolio meaning that our technologies are designed to work together from front to back to deliver optimum results for our partners and their customers. Furthermore, Intel itself works with other leading vendors, such as device manufacturers, to offer market leading technologies raising the industry standard and providing compelling and immersive user experiences.

Ultimately, with Intel, partners not only get a one-stop shop for all their computing needs, they get access to the latest and greatest technologies empowering them to enhance their customers’ businesses.

CA: Does Intel have a structured channel programme? Do you offer a strong margin proposition to your partners?

FP: Intel has a structured channel programme, which provides the Intel channel community with access to key marketing and business strategies, leadership, and information regarding specific customer solutions designed to help partners succeed in the marketplace.

The Intel technology provider programme allows potential partners to choose the level of membership best suited to their business and budget through the registered partner, gold partner or platinum partner membership.

Channel support

CA: What sort of support does Intel offer distributors and retailers in terms of marketing, promotions and channel development activities?

FP: Across our engagement with retailers and distributors, Intel offers a broad array of marketing support, channel development activities and promotions which can adapt for different countries, retailers and distributors.

Across both retailers and distributors, Intel delivers training for retail sales people (RSP) that enables them and distributors’ sales forces to communicate key messages about Intel-based products. This is a continuous and sustained effort to ensure the sales teams can articulate the key Intel product messages to their channels.

We also offer consultative support and guidance on Intel’s roadmap to ensure that retailers understand future technology changes that will impact their business. This also enables distributors to make full use of technology transition opportunities and plan their product portfolio with right inventory.

Specific retail activities include in-store point of sale (POS) merchandising materials that are designed to help the consumer choose the right product. These include paper-based merchandise, as well as digital merchandise in the form of an on screen demo called intelligent POS - more commonly known as IPOS.

We also offer support for online retailers or e-tailers and the websites of traditional retailers. We help retailers to place specific assets on websites that are designed to help the consumer make a decision on which processor and product is right for them.

There is marketing support in the form of demand generation programmes that Intel runs with retailers and OEMs in-country.

With regard to distributors, Intel offers support for channel marketing funding for distributors to help drive downstream promotions and channel development activities.

Intel also supports distributors’ working capital to help carry inventory for slow moving products – to ensure the channel and retail gets immediate supply to fulfil demand. What’s more, Intel also offers quarterly bonus programmes for distributors, which are focused on growing revenues, units and driving critical distributor value-adds.

In addition to the above specific retailer and distributor support, Intel also invests significant sums of money in its own brand across several different media. These investments indirectly help the channel to sell Intel-based products.

CA: How quickly is Intel’s business growing in the APAC region? What market trends have you identified that are impacting your business segment?

FP: APAC is a significant market for Intel; one in which we will continue to invest. It holds a big opportunity, particularly where the market tends to be younger, mobile and social and is rapidly growing in several areas, especially in smart devices. One of the major trends we’re seeing is in the mobile device market, ranging from smart phones to phablets and tablets, and it is a focus area for Intel.

PCs, meanwhile, are still a growing and huge market for Intel, especially in APAC, since PCs have already been redefined as devices in several form factors, and are no longer simply desktop PCs and notebook PCs. Tablets are part of the continued growth of the PC market. It is one of Intel’s priorities, but not its sole focus, since smart phones and wearable devices are a priority, as well.

CA: Is Intel channel-friendly? How would you describe your overall go-to-market approach in the APAC market? What are your overall channel goals and aims for 2014 in APAC?

FP: With the Intel technology provider programme we believe we’re providing a world-class experience to our partners, empowering them to be one step ahead of the competition and the curve. With 140,000 partners across 150 countries, the channel is Intel’s largest customer and represents a powerful strategic advantage. We’re committed to working with our partners to deliver smarter solutions driving business transformations and revenue gains.

Intel recognises that in today’s fast-moving world, our partners are responsible for providing the technology that keeps the world running. As such, we’re focused on equipping them with the information, training, tools and services they need to achieve the speed and agility needed to succeed in the current marketplace. For instance, members of the programme are entitled to online help and advice for any deals they may currently be working on, as well as access to an account manager and a raft of marketing materials. Similarly, Intel hosts events, such as Intel solutions summit, and online and face-to-face training sessions delivering the skills partners need to be one step ahead. What’s more, members of the program earn points which they can spend on rewards to build their business, as well as receiving access to partner only promotions.

Intel is focussed on enabling our partners to stay ahead of the competition. Working together, we can deliver smarter solutions unlocking huge financial gains and business transformations.

CA: What else should distributors attending DISTREE APAC 2014 know about Intel and your products and solutions?

FP: To answer this question, I’d actually like to share some feedback from our partners.

Our partner E-tron in Korea stated: “Intel’s product roadmaps are our lifeblood. Without them we can’t prepare or anticipate industry trends of growing product segments. My customers come to me because they know I have the latest information and industry leading products.”

And our partner Novatte in Singapore stated: “Being a Platinum Intel Partner gives us priority access to the upcoming Intel technologies. This priority access helps us create new products for HPC, visual computing and enterprise vertical markets and gives us up to six months advantage over our competitors, which helps us gain 50% to 100% growth rate every year.”

DISTREE APAC 2014

Channel EMEA is an official Media Partner for regional technology and consumer electronics retail channel event DISTREE APAC and is expanding its coverage to include the region. Vendors requiring more information about DISTREE APAC can contact events@channelemea.com quoting code DAP14.

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