In a candid interaction with the DQ Channels, Gaurav Ahluwalia, Managing Director, R&M India highlights the business prospects in the structured cabling business in India
After experiencing its lows, the structured cabling business regained momentum in 2014. How did R&M retain its growth momentum during low times?
Gaurav Ahluwalia: The perception that global recession has had its effects on the best of economies is true. India has not been insulated to this effect, but it’s predominantly been a slowdown. This can be seen in the way the markets have performed and the cautious steps had been taken by investors too. From the industry standpoint, we have seen many expansion plans that were stalled and recruitments frozen. Considering the dependency on customers for business, the structured cabling market was also slow.
Today the market has recovered and there are many positives towards growth. We witness this positivity as companies previously hit by recession have moved into expansion mode with hiring of new staff, and infrastructure. Through these companies we foresee larger volumes of business transactions and with it higher data, and voice transmission requirements emerging. R&M has invested time and money into innovation even during this sluggish growth. We have seen positives through our unique differentiation in product design and we believe we will continue to see this in the future too.
In current market scenario, where business leaders are looking at towards wireless technologies as a cost effective and futuristic solution, how do you forecast the future and business prospects of structured cabling business in India?
Gaurav Ahluwalia: Structured cabling is a vital component of any infrastructure. This is applicable for companies of all sizes, across sectors and industries. In India, a large amount of structured cabling goes into enterprise infrastructure and manufacturing, which is required for creating enterprise networks, data centers and telecom networks. It can be seen that IT/ITes and Manufacturing expansions in India have also enabled other industries to grow as well. We can see that the industry trends are always adopted by IT, with this in mind it enables to understand that structured cabling holds a strong position for the future.
What are the key trends do you identify in the network technology business in enterprises and SMEs? How does the company leverage to tap the business opportunities in the enterprise segment?
Gaurav Ahluwalia: Structured cabling has seen more implementations of Automated Infrastructure Management systems. This enables organizations to monitor their network and control it in case of any errors, hence reducing downtime drastically. We can see developments in new Cat.7 and Cat.8 technologies being taken forward by companies to help better data transmission but that’s something for the future at the moment. In the year 2014 the structured cabling market in India was on a growth trajectory. Copper still has a long inning to play in structured cabling. Fiber is showing a surge in OM3 as it is a good option in data centers based on the current standards. With newer technologies in Fiber coming in we will see a larger use of fiber for various projects. We can see the use of pre-terminated solutions for the ease of implementation at various verticals.
What is a share of Indian market in the global business of R&M? What are the highest contributory segments of R&M India to the global growth?
Gaurav Ahluwalia: India has a strong foothold in the global business of R&M. India is currently the third largest market for R&M globally, that itself shows the level of importance that it holds. R&M India is spaced across multiple verticals as we look to cater to all structured cabling requirements. But this being said from the previous year’s IT/ITes and manufacturing continue to be our strongest verticals.
What are the verticals the company will focus on in the current fiscal? Apart from the existing verticals, are you planning to foray into new domain in 2015?
Gaurav Ahluwalia: As always we will look to grow across all segments of our business capabilities. We have a competitive portfolio of solutions that benefit all the segments. R&M has become more competitive with our product portfolio after acquiring a company last year. This not only increases our employee strength but also makes us more competitive.
In India, the structured cabling market is cluttered, with a variety of players offering a sort of combo pack of variety of solutions. How does R&M differentiate its offerings from other prominent players in the market?
Gaurav Ahluwalia: R&M provides all structured cabling solutions but we continue to remain in the segment of passive cabling. The factor that differentiates us from our competitors is that we have a strong emphasis on Quality and Innovation. Every product that we sell is individually tested unlike many other organizations that still use batch testing methods.
With the Government of India rolling out ambitious projects like Smart Cities and Digital India, how R&M is contemplating to become a significant participant in delivering the solutions under these initiatives?
Gaurav Ahluwalia: This is positive sign for structured cabling in India as we have participated in providing such solutions in Europe already. A Smart City is based on a strong, reliable communication network. We feel that smart cities should rely consistently on fiber optic cabling on their way to becoming Smart Cities. Fiber optic networks offer the most prospects for the future, the greatest performance and nearly inexhaustible potential. They also form the backbone for future-capable wireless networks, which will also play a decisive role in a Smart City. Based on our own experience, we urge cities to keep several key principles and planning and evaluation criteria in mind anytime they discuss their communication and data networks or plan construction.
R&M has recently revamped its Qualified Partners Program (QPP). How is the channel program benefitting the company in strengthening its partner base? Apart from QPP, what are the other unique channel initiatives?
Gaurav Ahluwalia: If cabling installations are carried out as per recommended methods and standards, the chances of glitches or problems in installations are quite low. However if problems do arise, technical support is an important factor that can help troubleshoot the problem quickly, thereby reducing the costs associated with downtime. R&M takes a no-compromise approach to quality. That approach extends from the creation of the components to the ongoing operation of the installations. R&M’s Qualified Partner Program (QPP) benefits all our end customers, distributors, planners, installers and system integrators. As for the channel, we look forward to build brand awareness through road shows across the country. We have already mapped out multiple cities to go to in 2015. Our bare minimum is to conduct a road show in at least one city per month. R&M’s road shows benefit our partners because it shows our support in their region and we are trying to build a stronger awareness in their region so that it makes them more competitive. R&M believes in long term successful relationships, so our partners can expect the utmost support from us.
How are you expanding your channel base across the regions?
Gaurav Ahluwalia: It can be seen that the channel market is vital for any organization. This is applicable for companies of all sizes, across sectors and industries. In India, a large amount of structured cabling goes into enterprise infrastructure. Demand in Tier 1 cities is still the highest with major enterprises functioning in these cities. However, the emerging Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities have also attracted demand, which exhibits significant potential for growth. With a strong focus on the channel market, R&M will bring its innovative portfolio of high quality copper cabling solutions as well as fiber-optic cabling systems to the Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. R&M has appointed regional distributors across the country in states like Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, etc. Through their local presence and expertise, R&M’s innovative structured cabling solutions are made available to newer geographic markets. Over the last one and a half years, R&M has ventured into over 20 cities and has actively engaged with new partners in these markets through training sessions and road shows. These cities have exhibited great potential for growth and several projects are being planned in these regions this year.
What is your go to market strategy to increase company’s footprints across the regions?
Gaurav Ahluwalia: We look to establish the positioning of our products with the customer to better understand the value proposition that R&M offers. We strongly highlight our attention to product design, our compliance with industry standards and the quality of our products and solutions. We value our partners and their efforts. We ensure our support through conducting various technical and installation training programs. Our dedicated technical support to them helps to carry out complex projects with ease and to the highest level of customer satisfaction.