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INTERVIEW: Craig Dawson, AMD

by Stuart Wilson, Friday 22 May 2015

Components vendor AMD will demonstrate its long-term commitment to African channel partners at next month’s DISTREE Africa 2015. The three-day event gathers senior executives from technology and consumer electronics (CE) vendors, distributors and retailers together in one place at one time. Channel EMEA caught up with Craig Dawson, business development manager for Africa at AMD, to discuss the vendor’s regional plans and ambitions.

Channel EMEA (CE): What does AMD want to achieve at DISTREE AFRICA 2015? What are your key goals for the event?

Craig Dawson (CD): DISTREE Africa 2015 is an important event for AMD and we want to take the opportunity to send some very clear messages to the channel right across the continent. As there are many distributors, resellers and retailers out there who either don’t know us very well or do not know us at all, the main message we’ll be communicating at DISTREE Africa is that AMD is a very innovative and customer-centric organisation and one that is eager to engage and do business with them. AMD is a company and a technology partner they can trust, who brings a differentiated and appealing product offering to the market, and represents a genuine alternative to the default choice and one that delivers great benefits for everyone. DISTREE Africa 2015 also represents an opportunity for us to listen to our channel partners and learn more about the fast growing African market.

Oculus Rift VR demo

CE: What products and solutions will you be showcasing at DISTREE AFRICA 2015? What do you want channel partners to learn about AMD’s portfolio?

CD: AMD has a very attractive and appealing value proposition – both for channel partners and for end-user commercial and public sector customers. For the end-user customer, our products deliver competitive performance and power efficiency at an attractive price point; for distributors and resellers, AMD’s technologies present a real opportunity to differentiate and win greater business opportunities.

We’ll be showing visitors the exceptional range of AMD processors and AMD-powered solutions available today – as well as providing a glimpse into the future, too.

We’ll have a whole range of products that we will be showing and talking about – from accelerated processing units (APUs) that offer exceptional price-performance for today’s mainstream laptops, and dual- and quad-core processors that provide the power and efficiency customers need for desktops or in the data centre.

We’ll have laptops and PC systems from leading PC vendors that are powered by AMD; proof that today more and more top brands are offering AMD solutions - including as part of their main commercial product lines - because customers want and welcome having choices.

We’ll also be showing our market-leading graphics technologies, and we are very excited to have an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset demonstration at DISTREE Africa 2015. This really is a stunning piece of technology and we’d urge everyone who wants to see what the future in entertainment and in simulation technologies looks like, to come along to our stand. It is a truly amazing experience and if you are at DISTREE Africa 2015, you simply must come along to the AMD stand and see this technology for yourself.

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

CD: We have seen very rapid development of our channel business in Africa and the Middle East over the past years and in particular in the last three to six months. This is partly due to us investing and placing additional focus on channel partner support. But it is mainly because many more distributors and resellers are starting to see the benefits of offering a genuine alternative to customers – an alternative that only AMD can provide.

Up to now, we have been working with a relatively small number of channel partners across Africa. We want to expand that community of channel partners significantly now. We are further focusing on our capability to support the channel right across the continent and we can assure any distributor or reseller that engages and works with us that AMD will work hard to assist them in every way we can, throughout the whole sales process.

CE: Which customer segments and channels represent the greatest opportunity for growth for AMD in Africa?

CD: Clearly the government sector is very significant and education is growing fast as well. These continue to be the big areas of interest for us. With the exceptional performance and attractive prices we can offer, AMD is very well-suited to customer needs in these markets – and is an increasingly popular choice for government departments and schools right across Africa.

Sales in the commercial sector also represent a good opportunity for channel partners; customers like to have options and AMD gives you the ability to offer them a real choice. Resellers and end-users can have complete confidence and trust in AMD too – our technology is the choice of many major global companies already. When you consider how entirely dependent on IT most organisations are now, that’s a tremendous endorsement of our technology and success. AMD is a technology and a name you can trust – in virtually every segment of the market.

Genuine alternative

CE: Why should distributors, resellers and retailers stock and sell AMD products? What makes your channel proposition better than competitors in the market?

CD: Selling AMD-based solutions will help distributors, resellers and retailers deliver more choice and value and build loyalty with customers – and they will potentially make higher margins by selling AMD also. Our channel proposition is very strong indeed. We offer a genuine alternative, one that vendors, distributors, resellers and retailers can use to differentiate their offering and set their proposals apart from the competition. In short, working with AMD is good for your business.

CE: Do you have a structured channel programme? Do you offer a strong margin proposition to your partners? Please explain this area of your business.

CD: We are working with a number of distributor and reseller partners in many countries across Africa.

Their needs are all very different, so while there are some common elements, we tailor our support and approach to suit each of them accordingly. We are an extremely flexible, responsive and adaptable organisation, so we can move quickly when our channel partners need us to. Importantly, we treat our channel partners as individual businesses with their own particular needs. We know that one size does not fit all – we work with our channel partners to meet their specific requirements.

The feedback we get from channel partners is very good – they say we are much easier to work with and much more willing to offer help when they need it. We are approachable and we listen. We want to help our channel partners and will go to great lengths to ensure they get the support they need.

AMD Partner Hub

CE: What sort of support do you offer distributors and retailers in terms of marketing, promotions and channel development activities?

CD: We recently launched the ‘AMD Partner Hub’, a network platform which offers professional sales support and access to marketing resources and tools, news, reviews and trainings. As we’ve noted already, the needs of channel partners operating in different countries across the continent are not the same. As such, the marketing, promotional and channel development support we provide is tailored to meet their specific needs. We will discuss their requirements and, if necessary, create special materials or activities for them. We want to help our channel partners in every way that we can.

CE: How quickly is AMD’s business growing in the Africa region? What market trends have you identified that are impacting your business segment?

We are seeing really good momentum across the region and have distribution and channel partners that understand our value proposition and are fully engaged in taking the AMD messages about performance, value and choice to market – and being a genuine alternative.

An important element here is mutual trust between us and the channel partner; their trust in our technology and the service and support that we deliver, and ours in the efforts that our channel partners are making to drive our business. The fact that AMD processors are being used by every major-name PC systems vendors in their mainstream product lines is really helping to build confidence. More customers are asking about AMD options too, so it’s becoming much more important for the channel to offer that choice. AMD is a genuine alternative. We believe that we can drive significant business growth in all parts of the continent – and we need more channel partners to do that, so at DISTREE Africa 2015, we want to talk to as many potential partners as possible.

If there is a significant trend, it’s simply the increasing prevalence and use of technology in all areas of the public and commercial sectors. In education, technology is playing a much bigger role now. As more young people become comfortable with technology and understand its potential to enhance learning and productivity, we can only see demand both for entry-level and higher-performance products increasing. Africa is expected to see strong growth in IT usage over the coming decade, so there will be increased focus from key global vendors and that will means more opportunities and potential for channel players.

CE: How would you describe your overall go-to-market approach and strategy in African markets? What are your overall channel goals and aims for 2015?

CD: For AMD, it’s really simple. We can’t win without a strong channel, and so we do everything we can to make sure that the channel can win with AMD.

The channel is a key route to market and we want to be fully engaged with our channel partners and to offer them our full and committed support. Our approach is a positive one that recognises the vibrancy and rich diversity of cultures and needs across the whole of the African continent. We also acknowledge the tremendous potential of the overall African market and colossal opportunity that exists for channel partners. Our job is to help them make the most of that potential and, in doing so ensure that we are successful too. We know that our success is dependent on that of our all our partners – supporting them and earning their respect and trust is our top priority.

Multi-year strategy

CE: What else should channel partners attending DISTREE AFRICA 2015 know about AMD?

CD: AMD today is a different company with a strong multi-year strategy to drive profitable growth based on delivering next-generation technologies powering a broad set of high-performance and differentiated products. Our number one mission is to build great products that will help our customers be successful. AMD is a name you can trust both in terms of our technology and as a technology partner for your business. We give our channel partners a way to offer a real choice and to differentiate their proposition to customers. At DISTREE Africa 2015, we hope to talk to as many channel partners as we can about how we can work together to drive growth and succeed in making the most of the opportunities before us.

Media Partnership

We are pleased to confirm that Channel EMEA is an official Media Partner for all DISTREE events in 2015, including DISTREE Africa.

DISTREE Africa 2015, which takes place from June 10-12th in Nairobi gathers together hundreds of senior executives from the region’s leading ICT & CE e-tailers, retailers and distributors. Readers requiring more information about DISTREE events in 2015 should contact events@channelemea.com.

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