Arabian Reseller speaks to Pramod Sharda, the CEO for India and the Middle East at IceWarp; and Nehul Goradia, the VP of Channels at IceWarp, about the company, the solutions it offers on the market, and its plans for the Middle East region
What are your plans for 2022? What is your “go-to-market” strategy looking like?
Pramod Sharda: So we have just announced the opening of our new office in Dubai and we will be focusing on the entire MENA region from this office. In 2022, we will be spreading our wings in the other parts of the region, as well. Some of the countries with immediate focus include Saudi Arabia and Qatar. So from a strategic point of view, we would want to work with partners and system integrators primarily – so we are looking to sign up new partners right now. We are also looking for companies such as telco to be our alliance partners so that they can offer our services bundled with their product offerings.
So, what is your value proposition?
Pramod Sharda: Our belief is that not every customer today has a requirement for a mailbox with an “X” amount of storage capacity. According to our research, around 30% of users are the maximum consumers of all services on any given platform worldwide. And 70% of the users are just people who use possibly one or two features of any given service. So primarily, these are people who use their communication and collaboration tools to communicate and collaborate within their company’s network or workforce. They seldom communicate outside of the company’s contacts.
So, possibly they do not need that kind of storage capacity or level of service. Hence, IceWarp is essentially offering multiple products and multiple plans, which are more logical and economical in nature. By choosing the right plan you have the option of saving your costs by at least 50%. So it is quite exciting even for our partners since they now have something new to offer so that customers are tied into paying for something they will never use.
What’s your expansion plan going forward?
Nehul Goradia: From an expansion standpoint, as Pramod mentioned, there’s a geo expansion aspect to it. Another aspect of the expansion is to set up multiple clusters in the region. We have already set up our first cluster in Bahrain a couple of years ago. This was done to test the waters, in order to see how the market adopts the platform. However, today, along with our journey of regional expansion, and channel expansion, we also want to put these hubs in UAE, Saudi, Egypt, and so on. This will be done to give our customers in those markets, a localised data repository. That’s part of the expansion plan for this year.
Which modules do you offer as part of your services offering?
Pramod Sharda: Currently, we offer four major pillars that include messaging, collaboration, communication, and security. So in terms of messaging, we cover the entire gamut of messaging such as email messaging. Emails can be accessed via the web browser, a desktop client, or the IceWarp desktop client. In communication, you have one-to-one chat, one-to-one video calls, or even online team meetings through our video conferencing solution, which offers video recording, screen sharing, and even collaborative features. If you configure a SIP line, you can even speak to people without having phone lines as a communication tool.
How do you handle the data of your customers? Do you have tie-ups with regional or local data centers?
Pramod Sharda: We have been GDPR-compliant since 2016 and we run our own data centers worldwide. We have one in Prague, and another in the United States. All our data centers are ISO-certified and follow the latest regulations as needed by local governments and authorities. We own the infrastructure, own the platform, the data controller, and so on, and we are in full control of the data we manage.
Nehul Goradia: If I may add on to that point, working with cloud service providers need not be with global providers like them. We will be working with in-country DC providers. However, as Pramod mentioned, the stack inside will be ourselves. So we will govern, control, and do everything ourselves. So we will definitely be working with DC providers in order to use their infrastructure to host our solutions.
What is your marketing strategy for the year ahead?
Pramod Sharda: The Middle East market is not new to IceWarp. We have been participating at GITEX since 2015. So in 2015 and 2016, we used to exhibit inside the halls. From 2017 to 2019, we started exhibiting in the concourse area of the DWTC convention halls. That gave us very good visibility in terms of brand awareness since we were in the main concourse area. We did not participate in 2020, but we came back to GITEX in 2021 – it was the same place in the concourse area where we exhibited.
We saw a major shift in the way people approached us at the event. They were there to understand what IceWarp was all about, the products and solutions we offered and of course, the cost savings. This was due to the pandemic that had hit everyone badly and everyone was looking for savings in operation costs.
So, people, these days don’t look at the brand anymore. They look at the technology, the deployment, the use cases, the price, and then the brand. That shift has helped brands like Icewarp that offer top-notch solutions on the market. Our message is very simple: Pay only for what you use.
Our goal with our partners is that they should propose IceWarp to their customers as a better alternative to already existing solutions. Our solutions can help companies reduce costs and at the same time, they don’t have to compromise on any services they are already using.
What sort of activities are you going to run to build your channel community in the region?
Pramod Sharda: So we have Nehul who has joined us to head our channel activities in the region. He and his team are working on acquiring channel partners to join our network. We are also offering regular training sessions for sales, pre-sales, and technical teams. We are also pushing for certifications that will help our channel partners in offering value-added services to their customers.
We are investing a lot in this region by working very closely with our channel partners. We are also helping our partners by onboarding their first three customers in coordination with our team. So we help them with the migration of the data and help their customers go live.
Nehul Goradia: So the idea is not to just acquire the customers and let the channel partners handle everything from then on. It is a partnership and we are equally responsible for the success of the relationship. So our main focus right now is on training and certification, rather than revenue at this juncture. A skilled channel base is always a better channel base in the longer run.
We already have certified resources on the market and we have these recurring training sessions every month. So our channel partners undergo the training sessions and then take the exam to get certified. If they don’t make it, they go back to the training sessions again. We want to make sure we have skilled resources out there on the market.