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Debbie Beech, country manager: SA and SADC at cybersecurity expert, Exclusive Networks Africa. (Image source: Exclusive Networks Africa)

Exclusive Networks Africa: Pioneering Solutions Amidst Channel Challenges. Debbie Beech shares insights on overcoming market pressures and maximising strategic partnerships for growth 

The local channel finds itself under unprecedented pressure, with a highly competitive landscape now engulfed in a relentless price war as participants race towards zero margins. Debbie Beech, country manager: SA and SADC at cybersecurity expert, Exclusive Networks Africa, emphasises that the market is witnessing a diminishing value-add from distributors and partners, with an excessive focus on price exacerbating the situation. Consequently, this market degradation is permeating through to end users.

In the context of South Africa, Beech elaborates on the impact of high inflation, interest rates, and a modest estimated GDP growth of one percent for the year, as forecasted by president Cyril Ramaphosa in his recent State of the Nation (SONA) address, fostering a culture of frugality.

“The African channel has been affected by global macro factors, such as the wars within the Gaza Strip and Ukraine, as well as numerous elections currently or about to take place this year. And it’s not just the local elections planned across the continent for 2024, in Algeria, Ghana, Mauritius, Mozambique, Tunisia, South Africa and more, or the US and UK elections that influence Africa. It’s also those in India, for instance, as well as the recent voting in Iraq at the end of 2023, which affect the continent,” Beech explained.

“A combination of all these circumstances has meant that everyone is looking to cut price within an increasingly rigid African channel. There’s a fight for margin and market consolidation within the local sector, which means that larger resellers are having to dance to a larger enterprise’s tune while, at the same time, further increasing pressure on smaller channel players. Add to this the continued brain drain in South Africa in particular, and it’s clear that our environment is complicated, to say the least.”

Beech advises African channel players struggling in this environment to counter complexity with simplicity.

“The best way to move forward is to go back to simple, straightforward strategies. First and foremost is the importance of building strong relationships; these are going to be critical under the current circumstances. It’s not about what you know, but who you know – and how much they trust you. Having a partnership mentality is key, as is adding value wherever possible.

“Often, during intricate scenarios, we find that communication is lacking, so an effective communication strategy is vital.”

Furthermore, Beech continues, the use of digital tools is paramount. “We have to embrace today’s digital world, making use of the tools available that can help to create efficiencies and free up time.

“Agility is also key; you have to be able to adapt to changing market conditions, particularly those that have an impact on our businesses but are unexpected and beyond our control. In order to achieve this, it’s important to constantly re-evaluate what we’re doing – a static strategy does not allow for flexibility. Today, we can’t define strategy at the beginning of the year and expect it to be relevant at the end of the year. You need to constantly look at your value proposition, optimise your go-to-market plan and regularly improve on delivery.”

Continued focus on cybersecurity and cloud solutions

As cost consciousness prevails, Beech predicts a sustained emphasis on cloud-based services and solutions, driven by their potential cost-effectiveness and efficiency gains.

Furthermore, cybersecurity remains a paramount concern for businesses, particularly on the services front, with Gartner forecasting a significant 11.3 percent year-over-year increase in global security services spend to $90 billion in 2024. Cyber attackers continuously exploit vulnerabilities, with the expanding digitalization offering further avenues for attacks.

“Channel players would do well to look at the cloud and cybersecurity options available in order to best serve and support local end users with these growing requirements. And it’s here that a partner like Exclusive Networks Africa can play an important role, in its capacity as a trusted cybersecurity specialist that is able to bring a global footprint into the local market,” remarked Beech.

Exclusive Networks Africa offers a comprehensive cybersecurity and digital infrastructure technology portfolio, complemented by professional services, pre-sales, consulting, engineering skills, logistics, marketing support, and flexible financing options.

“With closer collaboration throughout the value chain - between partner, end user and vendor - Exclusive Networks Africa partners are better placed to service and support their end customers, allowing them to add more value and stay ahead of the curve. Our international footprint spanning more than 170 countries also assists local channel players in extending their reach beyond the African continent, with the ability to provide support for global rollouts,” concluded Beech.

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