How COVID-19 Created New Challenges and Fresh Opportunities for IT Industry!

How COVID-19 Created New Challenges and Fresh Opportunities for IT Industry!

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The ongoing pandemic – COVID-19 definitely sets a lot of challenges in front of the business communities as well as consumers, however, there are some unexpected opportunities open up during new normal. NCN takes a look at how vendors, distributors and channel partners are driving forward to grow even under these tough conditions.

Challenges and Opportunities!

Speaking about the challenges thrown in and the opportunities being opened by the ongoing pandemic, one of the veterans of IT industry, Sanjiv Krishen, Chairman of Iris Computers Ltd, believes the primary challenges facing the distribution business today are issues in cashflow management and financial planning. The fractured supply chains and the poor liquidity at customers’ end as result of COVID-19 is impacting the channel partners and in turn causing a disruption to cash flows. Another risk lies in the area of data security with work shifting from the workplace to working at homes, home users are becoming the soft targets of cybercriminals.

Sanjiv Krishen, Chairman of Iris Computers Ltd

“To cushion the effects of COVID-19, we will continue to help our partners and companies, by widening our product ranges, partnerships and tightening our planning systems, to bounce back.”

Adds Sanjiv Krishen, “Hackers are now shifting from penetrating office networks to breaking into the comparatively weak home-based systems. This risk applies to the distribution businesses as well. We have been maintaining strong data & VPN systems, secure VDI, Cloud, VA/PT and regular user training to mitigate the risks of cyber-attacks. On the other hand, we make available the wide variety of products and services in order to support our partners and customers to help them, which also helps us to grow our business. Our outlook is, therefore, optimistic and we intend to make the best of the difficult situation that we are all in.”

Rajesh Goenka, Director, Sales & Marketing, RP tech India
“The demand for PCs, Accessories, Video Conferencing and Networking devices has seen an increase. There has been a shift towards online from the traditional offline channel.”

Rajesh Goenka, Director, Sales & Marketing, RP tech India, says, “As a result of this sudden disruption, businesses are working with limited staff and resources. Secondly, the logistics have been severely impacted due to several restrictions on physical movement in various states. Lastly, all Sales & Marketing personnel are missing the direct one-on-one interactions due to pandemic,” says Rajesh Goenka.
Since the distance working and distance learning cultures have started gaining momentum in the country, the demand for WFH and LFH solutions has increased tremendously in the last 6 months. “RP tech India has released several WHF and LFH solutions. The demand for PCs, Accessories, Video Conferencing and Networking devices has seen a rapid rise. There is a shift more towards online from the traditional offline channel, which is not good but inevitable,” adds Rajesh Goenka.

Sudhir Goel, Chief Business Officer, Acer India, confirms, “For Acer, logistics and supply chain is a strategic asset and has been resilient through the pandemic. At Acer, we are leveraging our geographical balance, operational excellence, and strength in managing complex supply chains across, and solid strategy execution to weather the challenges.”

From a business perspective, the surge in remote and flexible work has seen a rise in demand for technology – from laptops and tablets to monitors and accessories. “With people becoming increasingly dependent on e-commerce to meet their technology needs, organizations need to innovate, invent, redefine themselves and act in an effective and timely manner,” adds Sudhir Goel.

COVID-19 has led to partial and full shutdowns of industries, plants, and factories. Many companies have disruptions in their logistic hubs and delivery routes due to closures. These impacts have been felt by companies, from small third-tier suppliers to billion-dollar conglomerates.

Sachin Sharma, Country Manager – India at ADATA Technology (India) Pvt Ltd

“The demand for ADATA’s XPG range of gaming products has risen significantly in the last six months and we will launch many top-notch gaming peripherals in the coming months.”

Sachin Sharma, Country Manager – India at ADATA Technology (India) Pvt Ltd said that COVID-19 pandemic has been a major disruption to supply chains, since many states are still under partial lockdown. During the COVID-19 outbreak, we saw a surge in demand for our gaming and PC-related products. With high rise in online purchases, we made our products available on all the major e-commerce platforms with enhanced features and support information to make them online purchase-friendly.”
Though the pandemic has created several challenges, it has made companies explore new ways to circumvent the problems. Kartik Bakshi Country Manager BELKIN, says “At Belkin international, we used our current infrastructure to enter the health & wellness category providing safe & secure products.”

Ripu Bajwa, Director & General Manager, Data Protection Solutions, Dell Technologies, India “Dell Technologies, to meet the current demands of the market, offers a robust product portfolio for remote working conditions, including flexible working solutions, tools & equipment, VPN connectivity, etc that deliver performance and security.”

Ripu Bajwa, Director & GM, Data Protection Solutions, Dell Technologies, India, explains, “With many organizations adopting the remote working culture, security became a challenge. This gave us the opportunity to equip the organizations with adequate IT infrastructure, help them in managing & securing their mission-critical workloads. Our portfolio includes flexible working solutions, tools & equipment, VPN connectivity etc that together deliver performance and security.”

Muneer Ahmad, Business Head, AV PRODUCTS. ViewSonic,
“Due to the surge in need of distance education and online learning, our Interactive Flat Panel (IFP) displays have seen an increase in demand. Bundled with the ‘myViewBoard’ software, our IFPs have become an all-in-one solution for an effective, seamless digital teaching experience”

Muneer Ahmad, Business Head at ViewSonic India, said, “For a product offerings like ours, physical and in-store product demonstrations play a vital role in influencing the buying decision of the consumers. Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdowns imposed, physically demonstrating products has become impossible, and our contacts with store partners have also been limited. With strict social distancing measures in place, more and more consumers are relying on e-commerce platforms for their shopping requirements. While this has certainly affected our offline operations, we have shifted our focus to e-commerce and online sales to better serve our customers.”

The education sector has suffered considerably during this pandemic. Both schools and universities have started exploring possibilities of distance education and online learning. This has created the need for complete solutions for education and broadcasting media to conduct online lessons. “As a leading EdTech solutions provider, ViewSonic is committed to providing both students and teachers with quality hardware and software solutions for an immersive, inclusive and collaborative learning experience,” adds Muneer Ahmad.

Adam Palmer, Chief Cybersecurity Strategist, Tenable
“A study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Tenable shows that frequent and sophisticated Covid-19-related scams were the number one source of all business-impacting cyberattacks as of mid-April 2020.”

Adam Palmer, Chief Cybersecurity Strategist, Tenable, believes that remote-work has been around for years; however, the sudden shift to a remote-work model has been challenging for security teams who now have to manage this expanded attack surface that is distributed beyond the confines of the enterprise network. This has forced organizations to rethink how they plan for and manage risk.

Adam Palmer comments, “A study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Tenable shows that Covid-19-related scams were the number one source of all business-impacting cyberattacks as of mid-April 2020. The increasing frequency, sophistication and creativity of cyberattacks put security leaders in a unique position to play a bigger role in the overall risk management and the related disciplines of business continuity, disaster recovery and crisis management.”
Ajay Dubey, Country and Channel Head, Forcepoint says that Organizations enabling employees to work from home (WFH) during COVID-19 is major workplace flexibility for employees. But the downside of WFH is the surge in the number of cyberattacks experienced by organizations in the past six months, putting their employees and their critical data at risk. “Customers who have enabled WFH are protected by our cloud web security solution. The demand for our web and data security solutions, the latest Dynamic Edge Protection suite of cloud-native SASE solutions along with our VPN services, has increased in the current situation,” he adds.

How COVID-19 Spurred Fresh Demand in Some Product Segments!

There are a lot of products and solutions that are being offered– keeping in mind the specific needs created by the ongoing pandemic situation.
Sanjiv Krishen from Iris states that along with the spread of the pandemic, there has been an accompanying growth in demand for remote and mobile computing. He adds, “We’ve seen a spurt in customers, both the enterprises and the consumers, needing more notebooks and mobility solutions during the lockdown. In a few areas, we have even grown by 10%.”

Sudhir Goel, Chief Business Officer, Acer India
“Acer has released several customized bundles of solutions for the consumers in the categories such as Work from Home, Learn from Home, Game from Home, and Create for Home.”

Sudhir Goel of Acer India feels that COVID-19 has generated a new directive — work from home, learn from home, and game from home. There has been a surge in the demand for PCs across the spectrum both from the personal and commercial sides. Remote working and learning are becoming mainstream and the penetration of devices in each household is predicted to go up.

“To help consumers decide on the right device, we have launched a series of products under the bracket of – Acer VisionCare. With this, we are dedicated to providing our customers with products that have the most vibrant colors and viewing experiences without any of the headaches or eye strain you get from other displays,” adds Sudhir Goel.

Sachin Sharma of ADATA Technology explains that with the online gaming becoming popular option among the youth while staying at home, it has pushed up the demand for gaming products. He adds, “The demand for XPG range of gaming products has risen significantly in the last six months. ADATA will launch many top-notch gaming peripherals to fulfil the requirements of customers in the coming months.”

Kartik Bakshi Country Manager BELKIN says, “Since we already had a robust online channel, the shift has been easier. With the increasing WFH trend, we see a lot of demand for high quality networking products (of Linksys) as faster Internet speeds have become the priority, along with laptops, mobile accessories and power products.”

Bijoy Alaylo, V.P SoHo Channel Sales, TP-Link

“At TP-Link, all consumer products, especially the Mesh Whole Home Wi-Fi products / WiFi-6 / Higher End Routers driven by WFH and LFH, have seen a surge in demand.”

Bijoy Alaylo of TP-Link says, “For us, all consumer products, especially the Mesh Whole Home Wi-Fi products / WiFi-6 / Higher End Routers have seen a surge in demand. This is due to the current growing demand for WFH and LFH as people need a lag-free Wi-Fi at home.”

Speaking about the product offerings, Muneer Ahmad of ViewSonic comments, “Due to the surge in need of distance education and online learning, our Interactive Flat Panel (IFP) displays have seen an increase in demand. Bundled with the ‘myViewBoard’ software, our IFPs have become an all-in-one solution for an effective, seamless digital teaching experience. The demand for our flicker-free and blue light filter enabled monitors has also risen significantly. The market for home theatre projectors has also seen a surge as people are setting up their own home theatre systems and have been streaming their favorite movies and TV shows on OTT platforms.”

Ajay Dubey, Country and Channel Head, Forcepoint

“Customers who have enabled WFH are protected by our cloud web security solution. The demand for our web and data security solutions, the latest Dynamic Edge Protection suite of cloud-native SASE solutions along with our VPN services, has increased in the current situation”

Ajay Dubey, Country and Channel Head, Forcepoint, reveals, “Our endpoint and cloud security solutions saw a rise in demand as organizations are allowing employees to WFH to ensure business continuity. We supported many companies to deploy cloud security solutions on the WFH devices so that users could access data from anywhere in a much secure environment.”

What Upcoming Trends can we Expect?

Sanjiv Krishen of Iris Computers says that the push for digital transformation has grown since the start of the pandemic. Companies everywhere are seeing the merits of being able to manage their end-to-end processes in the digital domain.

“WFH and online education are the trends that have increased the demand for hardware and solutions. The trend is expected to continue for one more year and beyond. Online retailing has firmly established its importance and will remain the primary choice for consumers to shop,” according to Sanjiv Krishen.

Rajesh Goenka of RP tech India, says, “The pandemic is impacting the metro cities more than the smaller towns of India and this year monsoon being satisfactory, we expect a good harvest this year. As a result, the farmers and their entire ecosystem will have better purchasing power. Therefore, we see a better business opportunity in the C, D, E class of cities.”

Sudhir Goel of Acer India, says, “The pandemic has spurred new innovations. COVID-19 has transformed the role and importance of digital experiences in people’s lives. Businesses need more agile engagement strategies, now and in the future.”

Sachin Sharma of ADATA explains, “The new opportunities that we can predict post-COVID are that a large number of businesses will go digital to drive Digital India initiative further. We at ADATA have also increased the online business and will expand more digitally in the coming future.”

Kartik Bakshi of BELKIN explains, “We will see a rise in demand for better quality products & components.”

Bijoy Alaylo of TP-Link, asserts, “The Covid-19 crisis has put more pressure on the technology companies to come up with more stable networks / more stable apps with innovative techniques to help to get works done remotely and more efficiently. And this trend will continue.

TP-Link as a technology company has always kept focus on having the latest technology available for the consumers. We have a wide range of products in all categories of Mesh / WiFi-6 / Gaming Routers / 4G LTE Routers as well as other products and accessories related to networking. They are also introducing new products even during the lockdown phase to keep the consumers updated and avail the best tech in Wi-Fi.”

Muneer Ahmad of ViewSonic India explains, “ViewSonic has developed the myViewBoard Classroom, a web-based education platform that works well on low Internet bandwidth. In a developing nation like India where low Internet speeds could be a hindrance in conducting online classes, myViewBoard comes to rescue the situation. Next, with social distancing measures in place, e-commerce websites are going to be the primary source for people’s shopping needs. Brands and businesses would have to be proactive and dedicate more resources to the online segment.”
e-sports and online gaming have become increasingly popular in the recent months and consumers are constantly looking for high-quality gaming monitors to enhance their gaming experience.
“ViewSonic has a wide range of gaming monitors with excellent color accuracy and high refresh rate screens that are perfect for gaming enthusiasts,” adds Muneer Ahmad.
A number of devices, which could have been infected by ransomware during the shift to remote work once reconnect to corporate networks, could propagate these ware into the corporate networks.
Talking about the trends in security segment, Adam Palmer of Tenable says, “In a recent Forrester study commissioned by Tenable, 36% of organizations globally suffered a business-impacting cyberattack due to ransomware. As a result of the acceleration towards ‘zero-trust’ networks where devices, systems and services operating within the corporate network that aren’t automatically trusted will likely be adopted by security teams.”
How Adoption of SaaS Services Shifting!
The stay-at-home orders pushed many organizations to leverage new cloud-based technologies and approaches to optimize their teams’ performance. In the longer-term, we could continue to see organizations of all sizes embrace SaaS services, even after office work is back to the status quo.
New Vulnerabilities in OT/IT and How to Plug them!
When employees eventually return to their offices and re-connect to corporate networks, there’s a risk of new vulnerabilities and threats being introduced to either the IT or OT side of mission- and safety-critical operations. During this transition, it is imperative security teams have visibility into where the organization is exposed and to what extent, enabling them to manage risk on a day-to-day basis effectively. Working from home is the new normal for many sectors in the industry and this is also enabling new opportunities for the IT ecosystem.
Sanjiv Krishen, Chairman of Iris Computers, shares, “Our top priority has been to invest in video collaboration tools, secure systems and remote connectivity and by doing so we ensured that the employees were up and running within days of the first lockdown. This enabled us to keep the business running even under constrained conditions. Some of the areas on the emerging technology roadmap that we have identified are the Datacentre (DC, DR), Edge Computing, Digital office solutions, IP Surveillance with AI, Smart Power Solutions and Smart Furniture.”
Sudhir Goel of Acer India says, “At Acer, we see technology as a key path to economic recovery, and organizations must pivot quickly to adapt and evolve to not just survive but come out stronger. We are driving further innovations to redefine the future of work, business, and education. We are ensuring our customer’s readiness to handle WFH by having the right devices, and services that they need regardless of their work locations. Tapping further into this new emerging demand for laptops in India, we have also introduced WFH and LFH PCs in the market. Deep diving further, we identified various categories such as Work from Home, Learn from Home, Game from Home, and Create for Home, and created customized bundles for them. We have also had multiple products launched during this phase and have seen a great response from our consumers towards them.”

The Pandemic and its after-effects have significantly accelerated the WFH. Employers have now begun to discover that with proper systems in place, an employee can work efficiently and sometimes even more effectively due to saved time commuting and balancing out home, health, and work in a proper manner.

Sachin Sharma of ADATA Technology states, “WFH has created more demand for Laptops & Desktop. People have to get their Laptop & Desktop upgraded because multiple application of usage now. We have high capacity Laptop DRAM & M.2 & PCie SSD available to meet their requirement.”
Kartik Bakshi Country Manager BELKIN says, “Many major companies are helping their employees by setting up a WFH environment and are also giving them allowances to invest in products they need to sustain this new lifestyle. We have the solutions they need and will market them in a way that shows the efficiency of using trusted and quality products from Belkin & Linksys.”
Rajesh Goenka of RP tech India believes, “In my view, WFH culture will reduce the efficiency and output of employees in the long run, though WFH is the safest option to keep businesses up and running during the economic disruption. Therefore, once the pandemic is over people will come back to their workplaces. Because in business, you need to have teamwork, team thoughts and team analysis, which is not possible on virtual platforms.”

Adam Palmer of Tenable says that the WFH trend isn’t a new concept and many companies have had flexible work arrangements in place for some time now. What’s changed is that today many organization have to adopt to this within a short period of time. Employees working remotely in India are starting to appreciate its benefits. A survey by OnePoll in conjunction with GoTo by LogMeIn comprising 250 office workers from India, cite reduced commuting (75%), effectiveness for the environment (77%) and more time spent with family (57%) as some of the perks.
Adam Palmer, Chief Cybersecurity Strategist, Tenable “Organizations looking to include remote working in the long-term can consider to run IT operations like a service; prioritize SaaS solutions; limit access to virtual private networks; and partner with internal and external peers.”
Ajay Dubey of Forcepoint explains, “Our cloud partners who are into remote infrastructure management did a good business during the pandemic, better than what they would have done otherwise. For this segment, Forcepoint offers many cloud solutions and endpoint solutions.”

How Companies Plan for Future!

Sharing about their future plans, Sudhir Goel of Acer India states, “As a leading PC brand, our top priority is supporting our customers and channel partners. Hence, a lot of our plans are attached to theirs. For the year 2020-21, we already have a goal-setting process in place based on the annual business plan. We have set out all our plans quarter on quarter depending on how the situation will unfold and also the response from the customers in the business scenario. In these rare situations, we have invested our time, learned what we need to, and pushed ourselves to transform and navigate the disruption.”

Acer has been a technology player that has introduced the world to newer technology and continuing the same. Acer’s passion for innovation and customer-centricity has taken the company to new levels, and the company is well poised to change growth orbits and venture into new horizons in the coming years.
Sanjiv Krishen, Chairman of Iris Computers Ltd says that Iris, as a company, believes in meeting challenges head on and remain optimistic about India’s potential to overcome the crisis and get back on track.

“Our goal is to support our customers and help as many companies as possible to get back on their feet, by widening our product ranges, partnerships, employee skills, tightening our planning systems and mitigating credit risks,” asserts Sanjiv Krishen.

Rajesh Goenka of RP tech India explains, “Optimization of our existing resources, exploit the new business opportunities and focus more on business prospects in C, D and E class cities in this unique season will be the prime focus of RP tech India.”

Bijoy Alaylo of TP-Link asserts, “We are meeting the demand-supply curve as fast as possible with the trade coming back to normal and lockdown releasing step by step. Sustained growth will come with regular flow of stocks and keeping support to our partners ongoing during these testing times.”

To Sum Up
The COVID-19 and the following lockdown have severely affected businesses and employees across India. Though the lockdown is being lifted in phases, still many states see continued surge in new cases and many regions are still under partial-lockdown. On the brighter side, driven by WFH and LFH, many industry segments have witnessed increasing demand for their products & solutions, including networking products, smart TVs, PCs, home theatres, projectors, gaming solutions and security solutions to mention a few. Some companies used the lockdown time to be in touch with partners through webinars and online-interactions, restructure their channel lines, draw new strategies, retrain the employees to reorient, and so on. Other companies expanded their operations to provide paramedical products such as masks, sanitizers, IR thermometers, etc. And everyone saw an increasing shift towards online shopping from traditional shopping. The bottom line is the organizations need to be alert to the changing trends, flexible enough to adapt and quick enough to adopt new techniques to survive and thrive during the challenging times.

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