Interview

Acer Adopts Strategy of Freshest Technology First : W S Mukund, Managing Director, Acer India

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Your company’s motto is ’empowering people’, a goal which can be realised if people have access to technology. How is Acer India making computer technology easier to use and more affordable to everyone in this country?

Adhering to our philosophy of ‘caring through innovation’, Acer has equipped the range of products with a suite of customer friendly and intuitive interfaces called ‘Empowering Technology’ that give users fast and easy access to the cutting-edge hardware and software solutions. Fulfilling Acer’s mission of breaking the barriers between people and technology, the customer-centric ‘Empowering Technology’ suite brings the latest innovations in intuitive form, allowing customers to easily experience all the benefits of an Acer system. The ‘Empowering Technology’ streamlines access to frequently-used functions and settings, allowing the user to enhance their computing experience in an easy to use format designed for the layman. With just the click of a button, the Empowering Key launches an intuitive three step process that makes it simpler than ever to complete common tasks and change configurations.

Acer has been one of the pioneers in this industry in terms of its work in the government projects space. We have successfully executed a very large number of e-Governance projects in various states like Gujarat, Goa, Assam, Jharkhand, Punjab, Kerala to name just a few. Most of these projects have involved execution across vast geographies under tight deadlines and Acer has delivered on its promises each time. We have also partnered with key System Integration (SI) partners to address this space in a big way which has helped us as a brand to take technology to the remotest corners of this country.

This is backed by an extremely robust service support programme for our customers. We have enabled toll free Helpline for both consumer desktops and notebooks. Currently we have Acer service providers located in over 175 cities in India and over 75 Acer Notebook Customer Service Centers. We also have a unique unmatched assurance within the warranty period to provide complete peace of mind to the customer. In some cases for specific government projects we have even supported it with dedicated call centers to address customer issues. Apart from this, in the regular course of business if a customer needs any additional help or information on ‘how to obtain repair services’, they could contact any of our Professional Service Providers. Customers may also request information on how to obtain repair service or the location of the nearest Acer Authorised Service Provider by writing or calling. The warranty includes International Travellers Warranty within the first year. These are just some of the initiatives which have propelled Acer as one of the top PC brands in the country and a key player in the government projects space from an IT hardware perspective.

Acer’s products involve mobile and desktop PCs, servers and storage, LCD monitors and high-definition TVs, projectors, and handheld/navigational devices. What competitive edge do your IT solutions have over other vendors?
Our entire strategy revolves around having the latest products with the ‘freshest’ technology in the market first. We are paranoid about being the first to market. This is Acer’s strategy across the globe. To achieve these objectives we have built up our entire go-to-market approach on a 100% indirect model which focuses on leveraging the competencies of the channel to address our key focus segments of Home, Small Office and Home Office (Soho) Via Retail, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Server Message Block (SMB), Value added Reseller (VAR), Corporations/Government/Education (specialised partners). This is what makes us stand apart from our competitors.

Acer’s advantage has been a combination of many factors:

  • Fresh technology in the market at all times
  • The first to always come out with products launched on the latest platforms (Centrino, santa rosa, tablet PC etc)
  • Most interesting form factors on its products (like on the DTs with the ultra small form factor DT which is just 3 ltrs in size where competitions 10 and 30 ltr boxes)
  • The best prices in the market for the specs offered (best in price performance)
  • Key brand associations (Hrithik Roshan-Indian Actor, Ferrari, F C Barcelona, Yamaha Racing) which help in connecting with the consumer.
  • Technological innovations which are made to make it easier for people to leverage technology for personal productivity gains.

How do you view the growth of mobile phones and its easy accessibility to people compared to the PCs? What, in your opinion, can be done to increase the PC penetration in India?
Every industry must go through the cycle of change. When the mobile revolution started in India in the mid nineties, it was restricted to an elite crowd. Slowly the market opened up as prices came down on the strength of increasing volumes and lower usage charges among the service providers. Today India is one of the largest markets for mobiles in the world. I believe the same would be the case for PCs. Today penetration levels are less than 5%. I look at it very positively because the potential to expand and grow in this market is mind boggling. By 2010, India will be one of the largest markets for PCs in the world. There are many factors that will influence the PC penetration growth in India. These include

  • Simplification of duty and tax structures by the government.
  • Government initiatives in the field of education and e-Governance.
  • Growth of easy financing solutions.
  • Retail– both large format and IT specialty stores – the expansion of these will help bring the PC into the realm for a larger target audience.Finally prices coming down on the strength of massive volumes that need to be supported by both the hardware and software playersCould you elaborate on Acer’s initiative of ‘making mobile computing more affordable’ and a response to the demand for low cost and effi cient notebooks. Please tell us more about this initiative.

    Acer in India has been a pioneer in opening up the notebook to the common man in  India by consistently focussing on making technology affordable to the common man.  The company was the fi rst to break the sub 60k, 50k, 40k and 30k price barrier in  India and continues its tradition of offering the best value for money product in the  market by breaking the 20k price point and opening up the notebook to a completely new target customer.

    We have been following the market closely and have evaluated the requirements of the  Indian consumer before tailoring such a product. The Acer celeron offering has all the  specifi cations required to improve productivity of people working on the move and  encourages them to graduate to Notebooks from desktops. Acer is the fi rst MNC to offer  a fully loaded machine at this price point. With the latest low cost offering, we have  once again broken all barriers without compromising on features (very important), a fi rst in the industry.

    Acer is also in the storage and servers space. The
    Government of India under    its National e-Governance Plan, envisages setting up State Data Centres- repository of state data and information. How is Acer set to optimise this opportunity to fulfi l the huge storage and server requirements of the government?

    On e- Governance solution projects we normally go through our SI partners who  procure the complete range of hardware required for the project from us. As far as servers and storage products are concerned we offer the entire X86 range of Intel servers with both tower and rack optimised versions. We also have a tie up with Hitachi  Data systems on the storage solutions front and offer Acer – Hitachi co-branded storage solutions which cater to the requirements of the e-Governance projects. (Acer  Servers are tested for the complete compatibility with these co-branded storage boxes). Our strength is in offering the latest technology based on feature rich products at  affordable prices. When positioning our product, the SI partner get the complete  advantage of feature/ technology and price. We will actively participate in the above mentioned requirements with our entire range of enterprise products.

    What are your plans to expand your market further in
    India?

    From a government projects perspective, we are actively looking at participating in all  key projects that are coming up. It is our intention to successfully partner with various governments and government agencies to bring technology closer to the common man.  From that perspective we will focus on customising our offerings to suit key project  needs, align ourselves with strategic partner organisations who also address this space  to offer robust and cost effective solutions in response to project needs and last but not  the least keep working on providing the highest levels of customer service on these projects.

    From a technology point of view in the coming year, Acer will continue to focus on  innovations in technology across all the product categories. Looking at the notebooks  segment, Acer will continue to focus on leading the market in terms of product  technology, screens, Optical Disk Drives (ODDs), Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) and others.  In the consumer line it will focus on a lot of multi-media oriented innovations; and in  the commercial line on productivity, ruggedness and security; fully equipped with  features like one touch manageability keys, magnesium alloy casing and fi nger print
    recognition.

    Some of our key plans for the coming year can be summarised as under:

    • Offer superior design products with unmatched functionality
    • Focus on industry leading price performance.
    • Best channel arrangement to reach all targeted segments
    • Building appropriate brand associations/ promotions to increase brand equity.

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