By Faiz Askari, Founder Editor, SMEStreet
Digital India is an absolute game changer for India. The perception of people towards technology usage has drastically changed in the last few years. Video surveillance is one of the important aspects of this change.
In an exclusive interview with Mr. Faiz Askari of SMEStreet, Mr. Khwaja Saifuddin, Senior Sales Director, South Asia, Middle East and Africa, Western Digital Corporation explained interesting market trends and emphasized on the next wave of technology which is eventually going to be visible in India.
Faiz Askari: How do you find WD’s market growth in the Indian sub-continent, especially with the increasing trust for government policies such as Digital India program?
Khwaja Saifuddin: More than the growth of the business, the key objective is to educate the consumers to buy the right products for the right use. There are many government policies under programs like Digital India and Make in India, but standards are still missing. The basic idea behind implementing GST was to bring business online. Similarly, the key objective of Digital India was to make Indian cities smarter and safer. However, these initiatives miss out on the most basic need of making the citizens smarter. This is the key objective for us at Western Digital, to educate the consumer on what is right and what is wrong and what are the risks if they compromise on their digital content.
More than the growth of business which is naturally happening, our endeavor at the moment in a market like India is on educating the customers and positioning right solutions for their need. For example, if somebody invests lakhs of rupees for a CCTV installation and buys the best cameras and DVR’s, but unknowingly compromises and installs a wrong hard drive, if something wrong happens and he wants to retrieve that and see, he won’t have the access to data. Every day in newspapers, we see stories of the accident, kidnap, and robbery and the police failing to recognize the culprit because of the recording is low resolution. Installing and adhering to the new policies and coming up with opportunities is one thing that adds on to the business and that addition is happening. But for us, a bigger responsibility is educating the customers.
Faiz Askari: Where do you see Indian consumers, as compared to European markets and rest of the world, in terms of surveillance and safety?
Khwaja Saifuddin: Compared to the rest of the world, we do have a lot of things to be done in India. We are slightly behind, but we are not completely ignorant of it. The awareness is growing. One cannot blame the Indian consumers because there are too many things happening at the same time. He is trying to take care of his finances, he is trying to adhere himself to the government policies, he is trying new ways of living, he is trying to adapt to the adversities of weather conditions which unfortunately in India are getting towards the extremities, and then he needs to understand what is the right technology and what needs to be done with it.
We are getting there, but there is big scope for improvement, and that’s why we have launched many educational programs at WD. Last month, we launched an app for the integrators and the surveillance installers, where they just need to input the number of cameras, the amount of time they want to keep and some basic needs to calculate the minimum capacity which they need for this application. Similarly, we are also doing another thing for surveillance, which is an educational training platform called ‘My WD platform’ for the surveillance partners, where we even train them on the installation of the hard drive.
The hard drive that is used for PC computing world or the surveillance world is not like any other hard drives. Sometimes, the installers are not well versed on how fragile the equipment is and they tilt it like just any other hardware. We also train them on installations and handling. Being pioneers on a surveillance storage front, there are a lot of things happening behind the scenes to make sure that the consumers at large can be updated, trained and informed about the new technologies and its do’s and don’ts.
Faiz Askari: What is the role of partners in the awareness program which WD is running?
Khwaja Saifuddin: Our partner base is naturally via distribution, we don’t sell directly to the channel, so there are multifold hands involved in it. So we do our initiatives directly with the channel partners across India on a quarterly basis, and this is an ongoing thing. We also outreach via our distributors, who have their reach in tier 2, 3 cities and sometimes even tier 4 cities who they call upon to reach out these channel partners. It’s been a long while that the channel has been a box moving channel. They work on profitability per investment, rather than the value-add which they can ask for an audited profit. That’s the differentiation which we have been driving to make sure that the channel knows the value proposition of what they are selling and the profitability turn-around time. Naturally, everything goes up when they feel proud of selling something and are aware of what is there inside the box.
Faiz Askari: As we are witnessing the IoT trend, would there be any diversification of channel. If yes, in which direction?
Khwaja Saifuddin: Yes, the security and surveillance channel is getting clearly away from the traditional PC channel. Of course, there is clear overlap as well because a lot of IT and PC resellers have gone into that segment. But, the focus of the new partners coming, the new value-added resellers or distributors and likeminded other distributors. A core focus is only on security surveillance, and all the nuts and bolts of that world, which go into that segment. Yes, that is getting very much amalgamated with the infrastructural resellers.
Today If I look at another part of the world, you walk into a hardware store which is selling all your fittings for your furniture’s or any other home appliances, they will have one corner for home security as well. That is more focused towards the consumer side of the security and surveillance. But when it comes to storage from Indian perspective, we will be surprised. In the other parts of the world, we are even selling the storage products with the fashion. For example, if you walk into the clothing store in the Middle East or Europe, you will be surprised to find our passport drives or our SD cards, or the new high-end products, which we have positioned there as well because that has become a purchase for every consumer. Because every human has a smartphone, which creates data and needs the hard drive to store it, it’s a cloud solution. Storage is becoming a way of life, and impulsive purchase is happening around it.
Faiz Askari: Security and surveillance hold a lot of value for WD, but other than that how do you see the cloud or mobile app becoming a key vertical for WD and which are the flagship drives to sought after in 2018?
Khwaja Saifuddin: Cloud is very important and integral for us because that’s where data is moving or getting backed up and that has become one of the additional barrels for data. So today, data is the next oil and we produce the best barrels of this oil and cloud is the additional barrel to save this oil. I am sure that you use the cloud as well but it does not mean that you don’t store the data elsewhere. You are predominantly using the cloud to take a backup or share it with someone but it does not mean that you are not saving data locally.
So cloud is more of a backup and an additional saving place for the digital content of a typical user from India, because we want to keep that affinity or that local access to the data as well. So, I will keep the local data and keep a backup on the cloud as well. So we are present on both sides. When you look at the enterprise cloud side, we have the HGST solutions range and when you look at the consumer cloud side, we have the personal cloud solutions in the My cloud home and other solutions, where the personal cloud resides in your own premises and somewhere unknown so that you have the peace of mind also that nobody can hack into it and the data cannot be compromised. In both these places, we exist and then when you need your data locally then naturally as an HDD, SSD or flash we reside in your PC, laptop or tablet in one way or the other we are completing the entire rainbow. When it comes to app based things, we were the first ones to launch the A1 cards, that’s for the Android-based users where you can run your apps directly from the SD cards and it is going to run as fast and as good as it would run from your phones. This would not only free up space on your phones which can be used for other things but also create space for more apps.