Joumana Saad speaks to senior Western Digital executives about the future of storage and solutions for the modern SME, during the company’s recent Annual Executive Summit in Vienna.
If you are a PC user, you most likely have used one of Western Digital’s external or internal hard drives (HDDs), at some point. The US-based company has a long history and a sizable market share in the storage solutions space. Hard drive technology is the company’s bread and butter, however, in recent years it has been reshaping its business to become more solutions focused. “The market for digital content creation is exploding right now, and this will spur the increased demand for storage technology, Tim Leyden, COO, Western Digital told SME Advisor. “Mobility, cloud technology and emerging markets are our biggest drivers of growth at the moment, and we will continue to increase our footprint along these areas,” he says.
The company has traditionally had a strong customer base among large corporations as most automatically back up their information. Among SMEs and consumers this is not the case, as Leyden explains that not enough people are backing up as they should. By investing more into research and development, Western Digital is aiming to come up with solutions that bring value to this group of customers.
Over the last few years, Western Digital has released a number of products designed for SMEs and data-driven, tech savvy consumers. One notable device, the pocket-size MyPassport portable hard drive, can connect and synch with a PC, SmartPhone or tablet. The device is designed around mobility and flexibility, as it allows the customer to carry up to 2TB of data on the move.
The WD Sentinnel DX4000 is the key product for small office use. The external storage device intelligently manages drive and network status, reducing maintenance time, so SME owners and staff can focus more time on their business.
The MyBookLive Duo –Western Digital’s main personal cloud product, provides dual-drive shared storage for computers, tablets and SmartPhones. With it, you can use WD Mobile Apps to easily access data or files stored in the MyBookLiveDuo from your tablet or SmartPhone. This device was recently launched in the UAE.
Khwaja Saifuddin Ahmad, Senior Sales Director for the Middle East and South Asia at Western Digital, says the response to MyBook Live Duo and other products in the UAE has been very positive. In terms of office and operations, Dubai is the company’s first base in the Middle East. Ahmad stressed the importance of having an operations team on the ground in the UAE. “Many companies handle the Middle East and Africa market remotely without having a local presence. We invested in this because we knew the importance of having a relationship in the market. The Middle East market is quite different and that’s one of the reasons why their online shopping and B2C portals are yet to get the amount of interest that’s seen in other parts of the world, people still want to deal human to human and touch and feel their products before buying, “ he says.
GITEX, one of the largest technology trade events in the region, is a key platform for Western Digital to showcase its latest offerings and meet with existing and potential partners. As part of Dubai Silicon Oasis, the company holds educational roundtables for SMEs to learn more about the benefits of storage. During the month of Ramadan, a series of Iftars are open to the business community, where they can hold discussions in a casual setting.
Ahmad also noted that Western Digital is keeping a very close eye on the region, as it goes through rapid change. In the near term, the plan is to take advantage of the digitisation trends sweeping emerging and developing markets. While markets like Algeria and Morocco remain underdeveloped in this aspect, other countries like Kuwait and the UAE have made great advances in a very short period of time.
Tapping into this trend, Western Digital has worked with the Dubai Government on a recent immigration initiative. The company helped develop the technology that allows passengers to scan their passport without having it actually stamped at Terminal 3 of Dubai International Airport. Governments throughout the UAE are setting an example for other countries in the region by making big advances to e-Government systems that make operations more cost-efficient and procedures much easier for residents. Governments in the region represent a major opportunity for the storage industry, Ahmad says. “In terms of digitisation, there is always a storage component, they need to store all of their data, and then validate it, and then the validation needs to be stored. So we are engaged in a wide arrange of initiatives on this level.”
In terms of future goals Ledyen expects Western Digital’s recent acquistion of Hitatchi Global Storage Technologies to give the company an upper hand in marketing a variety of new products across a broad customer base. These products include HDDs for the automotive market, as well as home entertainment. He points to the need for faster solutions as a major challenge facing the industry as businesses and consumers are becoming more and more impatient when accessing their data. Security issues are also in focus with the increase of personal devices (SmartPhones, tablets, ultrabooks) being used at the workplace.
In the world of technology, Leyden says there are three key there were three key areas that any company must focus on to stay competitive and successful. “First is to remain abreast of new technologies and solutions and offer products that are of worth in the marketplace. Second is to bring that technology to the market in a commercially viable basis, so people see the value and are willing to pay for it. The third, which Apple has taught us a lot of lessons on, is the ease of use. You design it, you manufacture it commercially, then take it to market, but you will not sell it unless somebody can use it easily.”
Before joining SME Advisor, I worked as a producer/reporter for Forbes Media in New York. I obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and International Studies at the University of South Florida in the US. I am currently in Dubai working as Sub-Editor for SME Advisor Middle East, which is a business magazine published by CPI. You can follow me on Twitter: @joumanasaad or @SMEadvisorME and (Joumana Saad) or (SME Advisor) on LinkedIn.