With over 35 years of corporate experience in the IT/Telecom distribution and service industry, Shailendra Gupta has built a name for himself in the industry. Today, he stands tall as the founder and director of ‘Peer Connexions’. Conceptualised by three distribution industry veterans: Shailendra Gupta, Jaishankar Krishnan and Ramesh Nair, the company seeks to digitally transform the technology channels through a platform enabling direct connectivity, information transparency and trade across tiers.
In an exclusive conversation, Mr Gupta elaborately talks about the company’s philosophy, creating a niche in the market, strategies to bring customers on board and more. He also throws light on how competing with the company’s customers is never their goal. Here are few excerpts from the interview:
What is the philosophy behind your business?
The platform is conceptualised to address the challenges and inefficiencies inherent in legacy channel distribution models, especially for the IT industry. The archaic model is very costly for the brands/ manufacturers as the multiple tiers involved cause high opaqueness, the duplicity of work and costs, poor harmonisation of processes, and working capital inefficiencies. In addition, manufacturers have poor visibility of downstream data, negligible relationship with the most important long-tail final tier, poor ability to expand channels etc. These handicaps ultimately lead to market opportunity loss and a lack of controls. Peer Connexions addresses all these issues very effectively through the use of technology. The platform co-hosts all tiers on the platform enabling a clear line of sight for all transactions right across the pipe, harmonised workflows, optimised processes, real-time data analytics, much-needed transparency of costs and working capital etc. It provided complete data ownership for manufacturers for incisive analytics and decision making. It allows manufacturers to build a digital relationship with thousands of end tier small partners giving them the ability to influence the share of wallet and brand loyalty. It also allows manufacturers to effectively implement emerging revenue models, like subscription, as-a-service, annuity streams etc.
Most importantly, we do not buy and sell and hence do not compete with our customers on the platform. We provide them with a huge technology-driven advantage. Even though we are a start-up, we are an ISO 27001 / 27701 certified company, giving high confidence to our clients about data security and privacy.
Who are your target audiences and how do you plan to get them on board?
All tiers in channel distribution are our target audience. All tiers across the channel get to benefit from this transformational platform, as it makes their respective operations easy, cost-efficient and data-driven. It also allows them multiple new growth avenues through portfolio expansion, emerging revenue models, cross-sell and up-sell etc.
Tell us more about your collaboration with the distributors in India?
The platform is live in multiple countries in ASEAN and was recently introduced in India. IT industry’s leading manufacturers and distributors have onboarded the platform in multiple countries. In India, the platform has gone live with Tech Data and GALTech Infosolutions as pilot partners. We are expecting multiple other vendors and distributors to be onboard on our platform soon.
What benefits will your platform offer to the OEMs and the resellers in particular?
The vendor’s benefits are outlined above. For resellers, it is an extremely useful development. Through secure access, they can see extensive technical and commercial details from multiple vendors and distributors. They can access details technical specs and datasheets, search and compare products within and across brands, see inventory levels and customised channel pricing for them from multiple distributors/ sellers, see their credit status etc. They can also see all the latest promotions, schemes and offers from various brands/ distributors. They can place orders with distributors/ sellers of their choice on the platform. They have comprehensive dashboards, reports and analytics for their purchases from multiple sources. Essentially, they can make efficient purchases with the least effort and manage their business with real-time data and dashboards. For manufacturers and distributors, the platform works like outbound ERP and CRM combined in SAAS set-up while for resellers it is a marketplace. It is a unique conceptualisation.
How do you handle security and data privacy issues on the platform?
The platform is carefully designed to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of information for all participants. Commercial information is made available to participants only as needed, as in the real world. Data privacy is core to what we do, and the platform ensures that private information is protected at all times.
The platform architecture follows the best practices in data security. The most confidential data is protected by multiple levels of security and encryption. We regularly have our own systems to tested externally to ensure that no unauthorized access is possible.
Our security and privacy processes are ISO certified. We are certified under ISO27001 for Information Security and under ISO27701 for Information Privacy, which gives assurances that we match up to the highest standards.
What is your strategy for the Indian market?
We are working hard to make the platform the best channels digitalisation solution in India incorporating local processes and nuances, especially addressing distributed logistics infrastructure, detailed GST processes, local credit practices etc. We endeavour to make the platform a must GO-TO place for all technology distribution ecosystem participants. The platform is getting remarkably quick acceptance with thousands of resellers onboarded within weeks. The brands’ and sellers’ portfolios are growing too.
How do you compare the Indian market with other markets you are active in?
The Indian market has a huge opportunity for all stakeholders due to its size and growth trajectory. The market has significant complexity too making it an even better opportunity for well-designed, insightful solutions that address these opportunities.
The size and complexity of the Indian market make it difficult to collaborate across channel partners, and a platform like ours offers a cost-effective solution to address this need.
What is your assessment of the channel market growth in 2022 in India?
The well-established secondary, industry-specific sources provide adequate information on the exciting growth profile of India. In the current industry scenario, technology is expected to deliver business value coupled with agility and flexibility. And partnership programs are enabling vendors to provide exactly that to their customers. Today, vendors and channel partners must collaborate to create and deliver value.
Our platform enables partners to participate in this growth very efficiently. It also allows them to digitalise their business at negligible costs and make themselves future-ready against the increasing onslaught from various e-commerce models.