In an exclusive interview with Arabian Reseller, Michele Montecchio, the Country Manager for Acer Middle East; and Joumana Karam, the Head of Marketing and Product Business Unit at Acer Middle East, speak about the company’s presence in the region for the past 30 years and its strategies moving forward
Which memorable milestones Acer has achieved during its regional presence in the past 30 years?
Joumana Karam: So in April 1992, as part of the strategy to expand and localise, Stan Shih instructed his team to launch multiple subsidiaries around the world. Dubai was chosen as one of the cities for Acer’s direct presence and we were one of the first international companies to be located in JAFZA. The UAE government really helped us in facilitating lots of things. We have grown with the country and we are very proud to be part of the technological advancements in the region and specifically in UAE. We created the first “collect and drop” service in the region in 1993 and built a PC assembly line in 1994, and these are all very important milestones.
Back then, international investors and visitors to JAFZA were taken around for a tour and Acer’s assembly line was a must-stop to get a feel of the facilities extended by UAE to international companies. Over the years, we have also received many awards. For instance, we were awarded the Dubai Quality Award for manufacturing, which was handed over by the Chamber of Commerce, in 2006.
Acer as a brand was also mentioned as a Superbrand multiple times – in 2003 and 2008. We really appreciate being in the region and we bring all the latest technologies to this region, too. For instance, 10% of all Predator X quantities that were allocated worldwide, were sold in UAE. This says a lot about our regional footprint and our commitment to this region. Most of the Predator Thronos that were sold worldwide, were in this region.
What is Acer’s focus on sustainability, going forward?
Michele Montecchio: Acer’s Aspire Vero was the most successful product when it comes to sustainability. We presented and marketed the device as one composed of 30% of Post Consumer Recycled (PCR) plastic on the chassis, and 50% PCR on the keyboard. And this is just the beginning, because moving forward, we will improve the percentage of recyclable materials used on our devices. The entire IT industry is working towards sustainability goals. Everybody is trying to build products that are less damaging to the environment, and at Acer, we have long-term sustainability goals.
Have you seen a major shift in how technology is being used today?
Michele Montecchio: Well, computers have been obviously revitalised and re-evaluated during the pandemic. However, this product category started picking up in demand, when people realised that getting work done from home would need a PC and they won’t be able to manage their work with just a smartphone. This is when computers regained importance, not only for productivity but also for multimedia.
In fact, lots of social media networks are better, when used on bigger screens. Typing itself is much faster. And that is why the use of a keyboard, as well as all the integration you can have in terms of video conferencing and collaboration tools, all of which got more importance, thanks to the work from home and the homeschooling concepts. The importance of the quality of cameras embedded in computers has also gained importance, and so has the sensitivity of the microphones. These will form the key selling points for future PC lineups.
Joumana Karam: Faster connectivity also adds value – technologies such as Wi-Fi 6 and 5G will add value to the overall computing experience. These new technologies not only help connect faster but also are more secure.
What role has your channel community played in your regional success?
Joumana Karam: Our businesses are all indirect businesses – everything is done through our channel community. We are a very lean company and we really rely on our partners, and hence, our channel community is very important to us. We just don’t push our products through our channel partners. We work with them to understand different markets, their demands, and so on since our channel community works on the ground level and they know the dynamics of the markets.
Michele Montecchio: Our partners are the thermometer of the market because we can always read the market data, including the historical data. But if you want to know real-time and market conditions, the best way is to have an open conversation with one of the partners, which has highlighted our long-term relationships and we trust each other. So by being so close to them, we can understand what is the moment to push and when is the moment to slow down. We also know when is the moment to accelerate and on which product category. And only by having this level of trust that we have in place with them, we can assess the market in the most healthy way.
What are the learnings from 2021 and how will you use them to plan your strategies for 2022?
Michele Montecchio: There is a renewed enthusiasm toward B2B, and hence we are trying to expand our B2B sales in the region by being closer to our partners. It is a very wide territory to cover, but thanks to historical relationships, we have a presence in every country in the Middle East and the educational market, in particular, is very important for us. We have always been serving this vertical and we are focusing our efforts there.
Joumana Karam: In the past two years, we have learned to be more agile and we look at things with a partner in a very different way. We always try to find out-of-the-box solutions to the challenges we may face. Even though we are headquartered in Dubai, we know each country has its own set of challenges.