D-Link looks to SMB space

D-Link's Ettore Alterisio, on the company’s increasing focus into the SMB space and trends in networking

D-Link A/NZ business sales and marketing manager, Ettore Alterisio, talks about the company’s increasing focus into the SMB space and the trends surrounding the current networking space.

Hafizah Osman (HO): How has D-Link evolved in the past few years and what is it currently focusing into?

Ettore Alterisio (EA): D-Link was a very product focused organisation in the past. We’ve come full circle now, and the focus in on the markets and their solution needs. We’ve done that with our range of surveillance products. We’re working on our range of indoor and outdoor cameras both at a consumer and commercial level. Moving forward, we are doing a lot of work with Digifort in delivering surveillance system software. That gives us an extra edge in being able to offer solutions in verticals such as defence or mining. We’re also looking specifically into the SMB space.

HO: Why the increased focus into the SMB space? EA: We know the enterprise space has been much owned by Cisco and HP. We’ve traditionally been very strong in the consumer space, but there is this SMB space that a lot of businesses want to target but haven’t really tapped into it. So we think that is an area for growth and opportunity. And our product range is targeted at that audience too so it makes sense to direct our attention there.

HO: You have been with D-Link for about six months now – what are some changes you have seen the company go through since you started?

EA: Our go to market strategy has evolved. We’re not pushing the product now but rather, an entire solution. We’ve converted a lot of our messaging to focus on a broad spectrum of products that cater to all kinds of infrastructure, surveillance, software and storage needs.

It’s nice to be able to deal with the one vendor for the whole solution. We never leveraged that strongly enough in the past. We also reinvigorated our sales structure to focus on new vertical markets outside the traditional channel – areas like mining, hospitality, manufacturing or transportation. We have even refocused our distributors to concentrate on SMB as opposed to try and shift share in the enterprise space. They are small subtle changes but the pieces are starting to fall into place for us.

HO: What are you seeing in the current networking space?

EA: It is very challenging. The refresh rate on networking infrastructure is three to five years, so there is not a lot of repeat business in the short term. That’s why we are moving into the SMB space and a lot of these verticals. As a company, we are doing well. Our volumes are up year-on-year.

HO: Are you seeing any trends that are driving the networking industry?

EA: A lot of small businesses are moving away from things like managed switches. They are looking for additional functionalities and price discrepancies are not very large at the moment, so it’s quite reasonable. From a wireless perspective, the products are getting a little bit faster and more technically advanced. But the core of it is quite similar.

One thing that has not changed is that customers want vendors that can support them. We will be introducing business Cloud soon – we think that will bring tangible sales in the future. We are also seeing that the push with mobility and the rapid growth of smartphones as well as other smart devices is driving some requirement for wireless technologies.

HO: What do you forsee the networking space to look like in the next few years?

EA: I think business Cloud is going to be the driver. There will be a shift but not a drastic change in technology. But I do think there will be some consolidation happening in the market. It is just so saturated and competitive that I imagine that at some point, there has got to be some consolidation that reduces the number of players in the market.

We’re also seeing some interesting work out of rural areas where there is a requirement for surveillance, but there is no power in such a ruggedised environment. We have worked with a company called Solar Powered Surveillance Solutions (SPSS) and then developed a technology using D-Link cameras. We’re signing on opportunities with defence and farmers and all these interesting environments, and with the NBN aiding that, it is going to be huge and it will proliferate the technologies.

HO: Can the channel expect something new from D-Link soon? EA: We might be bringing on partners that are focusing on the various areas of surveillance. Most of the distributors we have at the moment are either value based, focusing on the small to medium up to enterprise space, as well as broad based distributors.

We need some specialty distributors who can help us focus on specific products and parts of the market. There is definitely some opportunity there. We are also trying to bring in a lot of strategic alliances and building relations with tier 1 vendors such as Lenovo or ShoreTel. We’ve also got a new channel program that we will be launching in the coming months.

We’ve got a partner program but we are going to refresh that with a new partner portal. That is going to reinforce the D-Link brand and loyalty of the channel to us. We’ve just completed a certification course for surveillance. We’re trying to educate the channel and that is going to be key in the non-traditional markets. Hopefully, people will see that we are more than just a consumer brand.

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