Felipe Payet, head of channel marketing development for the server/workstation business segment at AMD, recently stopped in Dubai to make a case for the vendor's technology and declare its channel ambitions
CME: Talk us through the key elements of AMD’s worldwide channel strategy.
: The most important thing is a total commitment to the channel. We’re not going to forget that before we had very strong relationships in the server world with large global OEMs the channel is what gave us a lot of our early success. So a complete commitment to continue supporting our channels is an integral part of our strategy.
CME: How do you instill loyalty amongst channel partners?
FP: One thing we need to make sure of is that our channel partners believe in our commitment to them. This means that channel partners have the same level of access to information and technology that the global OEMs would have. They participate in all of our launches, and gain access to sample products. We also provide them with the infrastructure they need to set up their operations.
CME: The Middle East is not such a strong region for you in comparison to other territories around the world. Why is that?
: I think it can be largely attributed to timing; our competition has been here for longer than we have. We’ve been here in the Middle East for just over a year and a half whereas they’ve been here a lot longer. What we can do from here is just continue to reinforce the commitment we’ve made to the region, and work on getting that message out.
CME: What are your plans for expansion within the region?
: We will be opening an office in Johannesburg, South Africa, which is currently being served from Dubai. We have plans to expand our presence in Saudi and Egypt, but we are still working on negotiating partnerships with incountry distributors. Other than that we are focusing on the Levant, Gulf, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain.
CME: You recently launched the dual native quad-core chip. What should the channel make of that?
: It is going to deliver the best performance per watt and it is going to stay in the same power consumption range as our current dual core, which means we’re going to get a seamless upgrade path from dual core to quad core. It makes life a lot easier for our channel partners because they are going to be able to go to their existing customers and tell them that they can buy one of our dualcore chips and upgrade it to quad core with no changes to their infrastructure at all.
CME: When you take a look at the market, what do you regard as the main challenge for AMD?
: At the moment it is informing the consumer of advantages of AMD products — getting the message out that this is quad-core done right and that they don’t need to change their platform or update them. I think people are actually beginning to understand that. Intel has already made a statement saying they will follow-up with a native quad core, essentially admitting to their customers that what they’ve done here is just slapped something together in order to be first-to-market. That’s not customer-centric. One of our challenges is to make sure customers know what our approach is — and maybe our competition is helping us to deliver that message.
CME: Intel’s brand and marketing efforts are highly visible in this region. How can you match that?
: We’re working on customercentric innovations — doing things right for our customers. We probably won’t match our competitor’s marketing spend; realistically they are a lot bigger than we are and, this is not meant to sound cynical, in a lot of cases they end up having to focus on marketing spend because they have to compensate for inferior technology by making lots of noise.
CME: Intel’s recent auditing of its system builder partners in this region has been well-documented. Has this had any impact on your strategy in the Middle East?
: I don’t think it changes anything in terms of our own strategy. Part of our approach is treating customers with honesty, dignity and respect. We’re going to be aggressive but always keeping in mind that concept of fair and open competition. Yes, the region has been impacted by our competition’s behaviour to the channel and customers are tired of this sort of approach, but whether or not our competitor is having a tough time really doesn’t make a difference to how we work with our partners.For all the latest tech news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.