There is fire in the belly of R K Amar Babu, who handles channels for Intel not only in India but also in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. Amar wants to ‘re-skill’ partners and take them one level up to enable them to provide e-business solutions to customers. He, of course, needs to do a lot more convincing because channel partners are just recovering from the acute shortage of Intel processors and motherboards. Amar claims that shortage is an old story now and tells CI that Intel has improved its supplies and is in a position to meet the demand.
After the acute shortage of CPUs and motherboards earlier on, the situation seems to have eased a bit. What is the ground situation today?
The status as of today is that we have sufficient supplies to meet the demand. The Pentiums are in plenty of supply. Perhaps, with Celeron, we are still not able to meet the full demand. But overall, if you look at the number of processors, we have adequate supply.
But CI has received feedback from partners saying that not all processors are available in the market.
That is not true. We have all clock speeds available. There are enough quantities available across the mix of processor speeds. Perhaps, there may be a shortage skew-wise or package-wise. For instance, I am just throwing up a number, there may be a shortage of P-III 700. But overall, we are happy with the mix and we are happy with the supply. However, we see a big demand in the next quarter. And we are building up our supplies to meet that demand. Intel has made heavy investments in new factories.
Some of your distributors did take advantage of the shortage to bundle products. Are you aware of this phenomenon?
We don’t support bundling of any such kind. We did get such feedback on and off. The feedback has gone back to our direct distributors. But we deal in multi-tier distribution and so we do not have any (control) beyond our distributors. Whenever this kind of feedback has come to us, it has been going back to our distributors.
In the meanwhile, AMD has been making inroads in the market. What strategy have you adopted to contain AMD?
Our goal has been very clear. We want to meet the demand. We did have some issues because of wrong estimation of demand. Over a period of time, the market has grown much faster than all the projections. All our factories put together could not produce enough to meet the demand. We are building up our capacities to meet the increasing demand. The demand for our products continues to be healthy.
Does it mean that AMD has not made a dent in your market share?
No. We have not seen any (dent in our market share). We have been growing as per our projections. We have been ramping up. We could have ramped up more if we had met the demand.
The shine seems to be wearing off the GID scheme. What is Intel doing to keep the scheme vibrant?
We see still a lot of interest coming in from channel partners to become GIDs. But we definitely understand that there is a need to look at redefining the deliverables of the scheme. We are trying to ‘re-skill’ or ‘skill-up’ the entire channel to address the emerging e-business opportunities. We want to take a pro-active role in this to ensure that we take up the channel skill-set to a level from where they are able to offer e-business solutions to their customers.
Over a period of time partners have to upgrade their technologies. We have started making lot of investments in this direction. You will see lot more certification programs coming in from Intel. We have created what we call e-business network. We are trying to create a network of the traditional GIDs, networking product partners, Intel premium partners and e-business solution provider partners. The objective of this network is to enable our partners to team up among themselves to offer solutions to their customers. Definitely there is going to be a lot of focus on this network in the coming months.
Why didn’t the Millenium PC concept created by some of the prominent GIDs in Mumbai catch up elsewhere?
That project was done by some of our partners on their own initiative. That was the result of teaming up of some partners in Mumbai. And that is what we are aiming at by our e-business network wherein we want to provide opportunities towards matchmaking so that people identify potential partners among themselves, join together and offer solutions.
What are some of the promotions and schemes that you are planning for your channel partners?
It is an on-going process. We keep doing the secondary and tertiary city programs. We keep expanding into more cities. We started programs in 15 cities, then expanded to 50 cities and now we are covering 65 cities. We want to take our programs to 100 cities and beyond. We take our programs deeper and deeper from geographical location point of view.
You will see a lot of training coming up for channel partners. The training will be across various building blocks. We will have network focus training, server focus training, and of course, desktop focus training.
Do your terms and conditions for channel partners keep changing or they remain constant?
The terms and conditions remain constant, ever. We’ve not really changed them. What we are doing is while we are going ahead with the e-business network, we are arriving at a point where a channel partner can do business across all Intel product lines. Today we have reached to a decent level of business in networking products, we have very good data center appliances, and we have routers and switches. All these products are being made available to channel partners. So there is an absolute transparency across product lines. We have certain rewards and incentive programs. So depending on where a person concentrates, he gets his rewards and incentives.