Gaming market has grown immensely last year as big players really invested lot in promoting this market through various activities. New set of buyers have emerged who are quite young and taking Gaming as serious profession now. The role of distributors is also very important as there are only few National Distributors who have been working effortlessly in last so many years to boost this market. Now the time has come for them to utilize huge opportunities coming out from biggest growing market in India. Abacus Peripherals, the leader in distribution of Gaming & high-end products, has already prepared their entire roadmap to reach more customers. Vipul Modi, Vice President- Marketing and Sales, Abacus Peripherals, who is responsible for overall growth of company, has scripted the success plan for distribution of wide range of products in calendar year 2019. Mr. Modi shared his channel and products plans exclusively with DT.
DT: How has been the year 2018 so far for you?
Mr. Vipul: 2018 has been a very challenging year for the entire industry as a whole. All the variables in our eco-system – US Dollar, Consumer Demand and preference, Liquidity in the markets, the collapse of the mining vertical and the Intel Processor shortage lately have really dampened the market sentiment. However our focus on the Gaming industry have kept up our positive growth in 2018. We added brands like Acer Gaming Display and Team Group SSDs which got great acceptance not only in the channel, but also the Gamer community. Even within our own brand – ZION, the Gaming Productline – BLAZE has managed to get excellent reviews and acceptance in the community.
DT: Please brief about your channel ecosystem in India. How are you currently working with your partners to strengthen your market position?
Mr. Vipul: Compared to our peers, we have a much broader channel spread for all our brands. Our current endeavour is to educate the channel partners of the growing Gaming business in India and how they can change their traditional business practices to suit this modern buyer. We are doing regular channel engagement activities to not only promote our gaming product basket, but also to educate them on how to handle a Gaming PC buyer. As per our understanding, most of the channel partners do not understand this buyer’s requirement and either are unable to sell to them or sell them a product not suitable for their purpose. We are trying to create demo counters within the channel community where consumers can experience our products before making their purchase decisions. This is giving us good response as channel partners are able to close the sales more effectively. Apart from that, our regular channel incentive programs give our partners more reason to continue to stay loyal to us.
DT: What is your overall roadmap to escalate your growth further in CY 2019? On what products/solutions you will be focusing in 2019?
Mr. Vipul: 2019 will be a critical year for us since it will mark the explosion of Gaming business in India. This year our focus will be to add more gaming brands to our portfolio. We are already in talks with few such brands who are unhappy with their current engagements and I am positive the deals shall mature in 2019. In addition, we will lay special focus on the Enterprise business this year with new engagements there as well. We are in talks with few brands who could leverage our reach and customer relationship to further their cause. SSD will also play an important role for our growth in 2019. SSD market is also on the cusp of explosion as the price per GB is significantly lower than before making it affordable for the common man. It no longer is a luxury but a necessity.
DT: What will be the major challenges for Distribution houses in 2019?
Mr. Vipul: I think the biggest challenge in 2019 will be the liquidity challenge in the channel market. With the 2019 General Elections coming up, only those partners who have an effective Working capital management will be able to show growth, rest all will continue to struggle with their businesses. In addition, the Desktop and Laptop market growth will remain sluggish which will result in high inventory in the channel due to all brands trying to increase their market share by dumping inventories on their loyal partners. Overall 2019 will need smart working strategies not only by vendors, but also the channel partners so that they don’t fall in the liquidity trap.
“We are Looking to Revenue of 50 Cr in Next 2 Years”
Too much of work pressure on employees gives huge mental stress. In current situation when WFH model is being followed by most of the companies across India, such work pressure has further fueled the stress among them. For employer, taking care of health challenge in current situation is one of the biggest challenge. Keeping all such issues in mind, TWChallenge rolled out revolutionary TwelveWeek Challenge. In order to know more about this app and how does it contribute towards wellbeing of employees at workplace, Rajeev Ranjan, Editor & Publisher, Digital Terminal interacted with Vivek Slaria Founder, GreenLattey and TWC. Vivek shared his business details and statistics to give a deep insight into his business model. Read below the excerpts-
Rajeev: What was the idea behind starting TwelveWeek Challenge App?
Vivek: The purpose behind starting TwelveWeek Challenge app was to help people bring fitness and mental peace into their daily lives, especially during this period of lockdown.
Due to the current pandemic situation and gyms being shut, several people are not able to seek professional trainer helpto maintain daily fitness into their lives. Also, sitting at home with less physical interaction with colleagues or friends & family increases stress. This translated to people eating more, having anxiety or being prone to depression. All of this inspired us to create a platform that will help working people, both young and old to exercise and take care of their mental wellbeing with the help of Live sessions where trainers guide people on the app.
Rajeev: What were the challenges initially and how did you overcome them?
Vivek: There were several challenges that we faced as the app was being built. The first and the most crucial one was the lack of resources both monetary and people. Founders were also outsiders to the space of fitness. Offices were locked. They could not go to clients to show the technology or even be able to get some feedback on the product.
To solve the challenges the founders first kept themselves calm. They themselves did daily yoga and meditation on the app. Further, the existing team started using the app for their daily fitness. The teams were united while working from home by using technology. Using a real time poll before and after the session, the happiness index of employees were measured to check if the idea to elevate mood & boost productivity through the fitness sessions would work.
As the team started attending the fitness sessions and polls were taken to check the mood elevation scale, it was a successful test. Soon, the team built a plan to take it to market more aggressively. Soon the challenges started fading away as more and more people joined in the app and it started growing.
Rajeev: How does this entire platform work? Brief about its technology aspect.
Vivek: TWChallenge app is built on native android and IOS devices with real time video technology integrated in the back end. The design principles used are design thinking, agile development and social engineering. It is integrated with already existing cloud infrastructure allowing it scalability in both volume and geographic locations. After a user downloads the app, the registration process is a simple process of OTP based mobile number verification and name registration.
A user then selects and subscribes from a series of challenges to get started on a fitness journey. At the designated time, the user gets a notification of their class. He goes online to the app and starts the class with a live trainer. In case a user misses out a session due to prior work or family commitments, the video recording of the session is made available on the homescreen of the app.
Rajeev: Which are the major verticals you are targeting for this application?
Vivek: The major verticals that we are targeting include physical and mental wellbeing of people. Due to the current pandemic, there are a huge number of cases where people are going through either physical or mental deterioration. This needs to stop. Specifically, the stigma on speaking up on mental health needs to end, by encouraging people to speak up and consult help from a professional by treating it like a physical ailment.
To support this, while on one hand there are dedicated corporate programs, on the other there are several new programs like Fit Women, Healthy Heart, Nutrition Programs.
Rajeev: What is your company’s business model? How do you monetize your solutions?
Vivek: Being a self-funded startup, it was important for the product to make money from the beginning. We are happy to share that we have been breaking even on unit economics since the first month of operations. There are two ways in which our solutions are monetized. The first is that the company pays for the services we provide to their employees. The second is the individuals subscribe to our programs.
Being a subscription-based model, there is no heavy onetime cost to people subscribing. This on one hand while is great for the consumer, it does bring in a challenge for us to ensure a person gets value from these sessions every week. We are excited about this model and look forward to bringing it to life in a more focused way to our consumers.
Rajeev: Please share your current revenue growth. What is your target by 2021?
Vivek: Fitness is a huge and growing industry. In 2017, per Deloitte it crossed revenue of USD 1 Billion dollar in revenue in India alone. There is an increase in the number of people being more aware of their wellbeing and wanting professional help to get them there. No longer are people satisfied with a morning walk.
New formats like Zumba, Tabata athletics are taking shape and helping expand out reach. So from a market perspective, there is huge potential. Further, of every one person who takes fitness seriously, there are 9 who probably should be taking it seriously. Thus there is an even further untapped market that exists.
Being the first year of operation, our focus is to ensure sustained break even and growth in user base. We are witnessing a 2X growth in user numbers on a month on month basis. This has to continue. While it is premature to state the current year’s numbers, we are looking to revenue of 50 Cr in next 2 years and upwards of 100 Cr in the next 3 years. With a model built for scale, we are excited about reaching this.
“Digitization of Insurance Has Helped Us to Grow Tremendously”
Today almost every sector is embracing technology for better productivity and exponential growth. Those sectors who used to rely on the offline interfaces are now swiftly moving-up to implement digital tools. Digital transformation is playing a very crucial role for many important sectors in India. Banking was the first which used the digital transformation wave few years back to provide ease of banking to it’s customers. Now in the fast evolving world, Insurance sector is also taking up full advantage of digital solutions to ramp up their growth. Probus Insurance is one of the InsurTech player in Indian market who are offering wide range of services to it’s customers. In order to know more about the impact of technology in the insurance sector, Rajeev Ranjan, Editor &Publisher, Digital Terminal had an quite informative discussion with Rakesh Goyal, Director of Probus Insurance. Read below the excerpts:
Rajeev: How do you see the growth of InsurTech players in the Indian market post Covid-19 era?
Rakesh: Although a lot of innovations are required, insurers are stepping towards providing customised insurance products. For instance, insurers are coming up with motor products, having premiums based on the ‘pay as you drive’ concept, which however, requires telematic devices and innovative solutions to implement. To see such innovative solutions, it requires a complete transformation. However, due to Covid-19, there’s already a change in the medical check-ups, some insurers have adopted telemedical check-ups, sending kits to the customers’ homes for self medical tests, and also, video-based medical tests. As customers are now more serious about having a health and life cover, the market will see a rise in such products. But, even for that, premium will play an important role. For which, it is expected that insurers will soon come up with unique and innovative health and life products. In all this, digital transformation will play the crucial role. Those processes and operations which are still carried offline will see the transition towards online. Cloud-based services will be the backbone of the digital transformation. Furthermore, IoT and AI/ML will be the main technologies to bring such transformation.
Rajeev: What is the biggest differentiator between Probus Insurance and other InsurTech players in the Indian market?
Rakesh: Bootstrapping the business right from a minimal viable online product to offering 1200+ Insurance plans which include Car, Two-wheeler, Health, Life, and Travel, from 29 insurance companies in LIVE API integration, Probus Insurance has come a long way. It doesn’t end there, Probus also offers online tech solutions for buying insurance for Goods Carrying and Passenger Carrying vehicles. Moreover, Probus is the only tech solution provider to offer online insurance solutions to compare and buy Home and Business Insurance instantly through POS.
Probus offers customer support through its AI-based WhatsApp chatbot and Live Agent chat services. We have implemented Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to send timely renewal notices through Whatsapp and Email. We help customers who earlier had ended up buying the wrong product or who may need expert’s advice on active policies to meet their ever-changing demands. To help such customers, Probus Insurance has implemented customized systems for auditing and analyzing existing Insurance portfolios of the clients. The amalgamation of tech-driven and customer-centric products and services is what makes Probus stand out.
Rajeev: What are the basic principles of business for your company?
Rakesh: We focus on making our product simple and seamless. Today, with recent changes in our product, it stands out, making it a customer-centric product completely. The backbone of our achievement is our operational excellence and superior customer service, which is backed by technology and risk management advisories. We are always striving to provide better customer experience, which has led us to be one of the top insurance solutions providers in India in a short span of time. Our main pillars on which our brand stands out today is our team of experts, speedy online support facility, handheld claim support, and customer-centric product development. We ensure that our customers get active support even after post-sales. We help customers who earlier had ended up buying the wrong product or who may need expert’s advice on active policies to meet their ever-changing demands. To help such customers, Probus Insurance has implemented customized systems for auditing and analyzing existing Insurance portfolios of the clients. And, we will continue to leverage technology to its fullest to make sure our brand always stands out in the market.
Rajeev: What are your future investment plans to spread your reach across India?
Rakesh: The buying process will see a change from field sales to e-sales, and it will be the new normal. In India, buying insurance was mostly about a face-to-face meeting with an agent. Customers want handholding when it comes to buying insurance, especially, buying complex and critical insurance products such as health and life. This process will undergo a lot of changes. Tele-sales will be a new normal, including video calling to explain the product. Or customers will buy online independently. So, looking at these scenarios, we are focusing on making a simple, seamless and customer-centric product delivery with superior customer support experience. Probus has geared its digital team to reach more customers organically through SEO and social media. Moreover, to uplift the morale of field-sales—Point of Sales person (POS), Probus has opened its technology to Point of Sales (PoS) across the country. Using the website or app provided by Probus, POS can continue issuing insurance policies without any hassle. Probus is working to provide simple tech solutions to field-sales people and using our technology solutions will help them in transition.
Rajeev: What have been the key achievements of Probus so far in this market?
Rakesh: The growth trajectory has been memorable since the foundation of Probus Insurance Broker Pvt Ltd, in the year 2002. Insurance space has seen a lot of transitions in the last two decades, from more private players entering into the insurance space to digitization of insurance. And, along with these phases of transition, over the years, Probus has grown from issuing policies offline to a completely online portal, with more than 29 insurance companies tie-ups in Live API integration to help customers in making an informed decision. We were successful in providing more than 2 lakh policies online alone in Sept 2019, which is just another feather in our cap. Providing our tech solutions to POS for insurance products like commercial vehicles, property insurance, fire policy to compare and help customers in buying such products online instantly. Digitization of insurance has helped us to grow tremendously in the last five years, which led our company to be honoured with the award of “Digital Broker of the Year” by the ABP News and ET Now BFSI awards 2018-19. Though we have come a long way during the last two decades, we are on a journey of making insurance a pull product, and so there’s still a long way to go.
Rajeev: How do you keep working to provide better service support to your customers? How technology plays a crucial role in scaling up your service infrastructure?
Rakesh: We have adopted cloud-based services so that operations run smoothly. It has also helped us in scaling up the infrastructure. For customers, our team is continuously in touch with customers to understand their needs and guide them with whatever they need help with. We have AI-based WhatsApp Chatbot along with Live Agent customer service to support customers. Whether it be policy details, renewals or reaching out to the claims department, one can reach out to us right from WhatsApp. In case any customer needs a life or health policy, we are helping with telemedical and other processes as required by the insurers to issue a policy. We have set up a Robotic Process Automation (RPA), to send automated, timely renewal notices to customers through WhatsApp and Email. Our team is assisting customers at every step of their buying process and filing claims.
“We Aim to Leverage Our Innovative Solutions and Scale It to Drive Profitable Growth”
The innovations happening in the field of AV are laying the foundation of a hassle-free and seamless working environment for organizations. Corporates and enterprises are adopting these new solutions for better growth in the coming days. Barco, a leading player in this segment has been very aggressive in developing more user-centric solutions to meet the expectation in so fast-evolving technology world. Rajiv Bhalla, Managing Director of Barco India recently interacted with Rajeev Ranjan, Editor, and Publisher, Digital Terminal. He shared his insights on Barco’s mission, channel plans, and current market trends. Read below the excerpts to know more.
Rajeev Ranjan: What are the latest trends and innovations in control rooms?
Rajiv Bhalla: At Barco, we are anticipating a whole range of innovations for AV in control rooms in the coming years. Software that supports and manages decision-making workflows will be key to control room AV as it ensures a seamless way to leverage insights from control rooms, enabling confident decision making. In addition, analytics that can improve decision-making times, as well as usage efficiency of control room products, will ensure better and faster decision making.
To provide more seamless operations, we anticipate a focus on connected control rooms that enable remote asset management and predictive maintenance. Combined with more IT-friendly software and hardware, as well as unparalleled standards of IT security, control room systems will be more reliable. In terms of operators, we see a significant opportunity in enhancing their daily work and lowering work stress through an intuitive and easy-to-use digital workspace. At the same time, we are also likely to see a generational shift, with a younger workforce entering control rooms. As a result, there will be a shift towards user-friendly, modern-interfaced, easy, and ergonomic work environments.
We are also looking forward to an expansion of control rooms, from traditional verticals like transport and utilities, into the corporate environment. This will provide an opportunity for different applications of AV, including IT Network management, Big Data tracking, cybersecurity, and CCTV Security. These applications require a mission-critical focus, operator centric solutions, and hardware and software solutions that are secure and scalable.
Barco has already made its mark in smart cities and control rooms technology and our new video wall solution is a great addition for these sectors. Control rooms in smart cities run critical applications and now with Barco UniSee, their visualisation experience will completely change. For example, while monitoring traffic control, even an inch of bezel can cause loss of data. With Barco UniSee, there will be a major shift in the positive direction due to the unique bezel-less feature. Our new solution can be applied in multiple sectors, including experience centres in malls or corporate lobbies, corporate meeting rooms, broadcast backdrops and command and control centres.
For Barco, a major focus, in 2020, is growing our business and we aim to leverage our innovative solutions and scale it to drive profitable growth while enabling bright outcomes.
Rajeev Ranjan: What are the key initiatives or strategies you have planned in recent times that would help you to grow in the healthcare sector? What is your product roadmap to leverage the immense opportunities in this sector?
Rajiv Bhalla: Barco co-creates technology solutions for integrated care and guides 5000 surgical procedures and millions of softcopy image reads each day. From the scanner room to the radiologist desk; to specialist consultations and the surgical suite: we connect healthcare professionals at every patient touchpoint. They rely on our medical imaging solutions to deliver the complete picture they need to make life-critical decisions and provide the best possible treatment – ensuring brighter healthcare outcomes and early diagnosis.
We have systematically redefined our India Business Model because we believe that ours is a value-driven market. To succeed in India, you need to adopt Indian value propositions and price points. In 2020, we see healthcare becoming more collaborative, with several solutions playing a key role in facilitating services. Barco is looking at using its entire portfolio of solutions – from the enterprise, entertainment, meeting experience along with healthcare – to make a collaborative healthcare platform where all our technologies add value to the stakeholders.
We are eyeing more partnerships in the Digital Operating Theatre space as this is an arena where hospitals must invest more. Our aim is to take Healthcare IT to end-users with our new, emerging market model which is well-priced for India. We are also developing more reseller channels to customise solutions and add value and we are focused on entering the tier-2 market after covering tier-1. In 2020, we will have more feet on street for awareness creation around Nexxis, our video-over-IP platform that enables digitisation of operation rooms.
With India becoming a small hub for medical manufacturers, we plan to support such manufacturers globally in third party components. Our aim is to ensure that when Indian equipment is sold outside, it should be sold with Barco equipment and for this purpose, we are focusing on better collaboration on technology hardware platforms. We will also initiate the process of market learning on Demetra – our skin cancer imaging solution – while sustaining existing business. Overall, Mammography will remain our core focus this year.
Rajeev Ranjan: Are smart cities better equipped to handle current pandemic situation?
Rajiv Bhalla: As India and the world grapples with the health and socio-economic disruption being caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, authorities are taking all possible measures to contain the pandemic. Smart city control rooms are one of the most effective weapons being utilized in this fight. Control centres form the core of the smart city initiative and help in optimizing the decision-making process by collecting, and visualizing the available data, at the right time, and in the right format. Control centres are essential for smart city surveillance, emergency and clinical command situations, integrated traffic management and disaster management. And, with the outbreak of the virus, control rooms have proved indispensable in the fight against the pandemic.
Smart cities with functional control rooms have employed the facility for real-time tracking and analysis of the healthcare crisis, with assistance from private companies. Barco works closely with governments and provides insights for 1 out of 4 smart cities in the world. We facilitate control room solutions that enable visualization of all parameters of critical care, including camera feeds, sensor data, and planning databases, in a flexible way. Further, our innovative solution SecureStream is another tool that can aid monitoring as it shares real-time information between control rooms and on-field personnel. Control room operators can seamlessly share data with external stakeholders by dragging and dropping video or data sources into a SecureStream channel, ensuring authorized personnel get a complete situational overview from remote locations. This permits unrivalled coordination, contributing to better and faster decision-making.
Rajeev Ranjan: Please brief about your distribution strength and overall infrastructure in the Indian subcontinent. How do you support/motivate your channel partners?
Rajiv Bhalla: As a B2B organization, Barco’s focus remains on robust collaboration with system integrators, specialists and VARs for verticals like Enterprise, Healthcare, and Cinema. Our distribution strength and infrastructure differ from vertical to vertical because we employ different go-to-market strategies for each sector we cater to. For instance, we have a system of over 200 channel partners for our innovative collaboration solution – the Barco ClickShare. These channel partners are targeted through our distributors like Ceeco Technologies, Trustech, Supertron and Online Instruments.
When it comes to projectors, we associate with our partners Visual Display Solutions Pvt Ltd. and Supertron Electronics. We also collaborate with some authorized System Integrator partners through direct selling. As we are expanding our channel base at present, we have onboarded Online Instruments as the channel partner for the education vertical and VDSPL for the ProAV segment.
Barco has nurtured a partner ecosystem that ensures our end consumers and clients are aware of the varied solutions and services we offer. It also ensures quick and reliable after-sales service for the clients. We believe that our channel partners should be aware of the problems faced by end consumers to ensure excellent service. We conduct training and advancement sessions to make sure our partners are equipped to handle consumer requirements. We also offer them comprehensive partner certification programmes under Barco University, spread across our business verticals and at par with altering market dynamics. We are focused on strengthening and comforting our partner base and are always there to complete them, rather than compete with them.
Rajeev Ranjan: How do you work on escalating your post-sale service quality for your loyal customers?
Rajiv Bhalla: Customer service is one of the core values of Barco and it is an important part of our culture. We truly believe in and practice the ethos – “We Think with our Customer”. Our customers are everywhere, ranging from our end-users, our partners/resellers, as well as our colleagues who depend on us to deliver. We prioritize customer value and experience in everything we do. It is the way we live and think at Barco. We believe in end-to-end solutions and cover the complete lifecycle of our products and services.
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