Sudhindra Holla, Sales Director, India & SAARC, Axis Communications said, “The Indian market is segmented. The awareness in the Tier 2 and tier 3 cities is as good as it is in the Tier 1 cities. , It is no longer true that the proliferation in Tier 2 and tier 3 cities are happening at a later stage when compared to Tier 1.”
Axis Communications has been continuously working towards providing end to end security solutions catering to industrialists from infrastructure, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and retail since the past 30 years. itnewsbuzz.com has recently got a chance to have an exclusive interaction with Sudindhra Holla, Country Manager, India and SAARC, where he though light on the latest trends in security network cameras and company’s endeavours to make its position stronger in India. He also discusses Axis’s expansion plans in India in terms of partner’s number, their geographical reach and their innovative product offerings. Edited excerpts….
ITNewsBuzz : Surveillance is becoming increasingly relevant in today’s world, what is your opinion on that?
Sudhindra Holla: I think a lot of things are driving the surveillance industry today – primarily, the safety element. If we view the different segments, are adopting surveillance for safety and security. If you look at corporates and government, they are investing in city surveillance and smart cities, and other segments like education and manufacturing – are investing in the surveillance industry. , we are seeing an adoption of safety and security in most of the sectors, which are actually showing the growth. The major rean that is driving the whole thing is, basically, safety.Today everyone wants to be safeand they want more safety and they’re buying more Technology which drives this.
ITNewsBuzz: Are you seeing any verticals getting more traction?
Sudhindra Holla: From my perspective, it would be big cities and smart cities, as part of the growing segment. Evengovernment (power, critical infrastructure), in various segments, areinvesting as to protect the borders, internal security and even for defence establishment. Then, wehave other segments like commercial, retail and education which are showing high growth potential in that order
ITNewsBuzz: Where do you see more traction? Is it the government, enterprise or SOHO?
Sudhindra Holla: Government and City Surveillancehave been the biggest investors in the best part and if you take the government, I am including the sub segments within which are semi governments like the PSUs, oil and gas establishment, power and critical infrastructure segments.. , these two have high growth from a growth perspective. If you look at the Enterprise segment and the commercial segment which is all your IT companies, buildings which need surveillance – they all come under the Corporates, which is the commercial segment. That is definitely a high growth segment. Then, of course, we have sub segments like retail, education, manufacturing are all showing opportunities for high growth.
ITNewsBuzz: Digital IP cameras are getting popular day by day. , what is your take on that and how is Axis taking advantage of that?
Sudhindra Holla: When you look at how the technology has evolved from analog to Network IP CCTV had all been analog 20 – 25 years ago , Axis invented the network camera technology. I gives all the benefits to the customers in terms of the video quality, how you can manage the video, managing very large systems and running analytics. Today, as we speak I would say about 70% of the technologies deployed would be network video or IP Camera Technology and only 30% is still analog for very low end kind of systems or very specific kind of useIn the next 3 to 5 years analog will probably all go away and it will only be network video. Like what happened to the cameraif you basically see the camera technology, 20 years back, we had the analog cameras with the film rolls, then came the digital SLR technology and the digital camera.
ITNewsBuzz: There are already many companies working in the surveillance industry. How would you say that Axis is different from its competitors?
Sudhindra Holla: It becomes very difficult to differentiate a solution on a data sheet because all data sheets look the same. Everybody claims the same, right? But when it comes to product quality, Axis is a Swedish company and we deal with products to survive in any kind of situation, be it working in a verycold country are working in a desert environment.
All ourproducts go through a series of testing for all the parameters. Say if it is an IP 66 rated camera or an IK 10 rated camera,whatever test the camera needs for the specifications are completely taken through in our quality process. , Quality is something that will really differentiate and we urge our customers and partners, to look at quality beyond the data sheet. Axis brings you quality beyond the data sheet. If our products are rated for something, normally, beyond what we specify in our products. . Secondly the Total Cost of Ownership is very important. If you look at the camera alone, we may be found to be a little more expensive than many of the competitors. Studies has been done with Axis, where we are actually shown to be a little more expensive when you buy, but as you move forward in the project – on a 5-7 year basis, we tend to reap more in a competitive nature.
ITNewsBuzz: what kind of after sale services are you offering to your customers? Because I think that is AI one of the important aspects of any business.
Sudhindra Holla: We follow a partner-like model, which means that we sell through the tier architecture in the marketplace. We have the distributors, who actually bring in the products and then make it available in the country in which want the consumer to buy. , Once the partner is making the sale, he is integrating the rest of the components in the solution to the end customer. He becomes the first point of contact, for our end customer’s we support our partners all through the product life cycle.We have our own innovation Centre here, and identify product failures, In somecases, we do advance replacement as well. , This facility is available from our Bangalore innovation facility, where we stockall the spares, we have repairing capabilities and the people running our innovation centre have become the support and services over the years. Secondly, if there is a challenging installation or some configuration related issue or placement of the camera, like selecting some accessories or why it’s not working well – we do through our technical services. , we have a technical services team which identify the challenges and recommend the changes If it is a very complex issue, we even escalate it to our product and engineering departments in our headquarters, where they simulate the challenge on ground, and come up with solution.
ITNewsBuzz: How many partners do you have in India?
Sudhindra Holla: If you look at our partner model, as a two tier model which means we have the distributors, to bring in the products into the country and then make it available to the partners and they are the closest channel partners in our ecosystem. Then we have the global channel partners or the multi-regionalchannel partners like Tyco, JCI, Honeywell and Siemens. Then there are the solution partners with the capability of bringing in Axis cameras and the rest of the components and stitching the collection as far as the end customer is concerned. Lastly we have our authorised partners who bid for large projects or who can be doing business in smaller areas as well. But for smaller projects, they can just buy from our division and sell it across. , across the nation, we have close to 400+ active channel partners. andaround 2500 channel partners throughout the country. But the ones who are active – mebuy at least once or twice a year and some almost buy every month. If you look at the ones who buy at least once a year, they are close to 400+, as far as we are concerned.
ITNewsBuzz: The next wave of growth is coming from Tier 2 and tier 3 cities. , what is your plan the tap those cities?
Sudhindra Holla: The Indian market is segmented. The awareness in the Tier 2 and tier 3 cities is as good as it is in the Tier 1 cities. , It is no longer true that the proliferation in Tier 2 and tier 3 cities are happening at a later stage when compared to Tier 1. You look at your online retail, as an example. Tier 2 cities adapted much faster in many places than the Tier 1 cities, With the technology available and the reach, we are seeing quick growth al coming from the Tier 2 cities at a very fast pace because a lot of the businesses are dependent on these technologies that have access to the information. All channel partners are existing in these locations and the solutions available, which they want to buy it. So, whether you are in Mumbai or Ahmedabad, the same quality of solution and the channel partners and the experience is available. , with this being available what is happening is that we are seeing more off-take coming in from Tier 2 and tier 3 as well, where they are getting more and more aware of the technology, the solutions, what are the benefits that they are going to get, and they are seeing the deployment happening at the same time. We are doing a few things, right? We do a lot of education, in terms of educating our channel partners and in terms of educating our end customers. , there are two types of events that we do.
ITNewsBuzz: Do you find India market challenging as compared to the other markets where you already have presence? If yes, what are the challenges that you are facing in India?
Sudhindra Holla: If you look at the World Bank report, India is number 1 in terms of ease of doing business. It is not an easy place to do a business here. But the situation has improved over the last few yearsand we have moved up a few places with the new government coming in. However, it is still not a very easy place to do business to begin with, it’s the culture; the dynamics in which people do business here as well as the awareness when it comes to our kind of technology and its offerings.
If people knew why they have to pay so much for something, then the decision is easier to make. But if they do not know why they are paying so much, then somebody has to educate them. Which means, when they decide to make an investment and go for it or continue to choose their lower cost options. There are some hurdles, however the different tax structures across the country of the past have eased out. With the GST coming into the picture, our products cost lesser.
ITNewsBuzz: So how much is India contributing in Axis Communications’global share?
Sudhindra Holla: In India, if you look at what IHS is forecasting for the network camera, the growth rate is 16% CAGR up until 2021. Axis has been growing more than that for the last 3 years, and we continue to grow at the pace that IHS predicts, if not more on a growth perspective in the network camera area. Region wise US is the highest with 40 – 50% share with Asia Pacific contributing around 12% of our global revenue followed by EMEA. US is our highest revenue gaining part of the world. It is around 49% -50%, and the rest comes from EU.
ITNewsBuzz: What are the technological trends that you see in the near future in the safety and surveillance industry?
Sudhindra Holla: One of the trends that we see is the integration of audio into video. Earlier, audio and video existed as two separate technologies. Today, we see audio is getting integrated into video. For example, when you see an incident, and you want to take action on it. Earlier, somebody would be watching it and would then have to make an announcement on a separate system. Now, that can be integrated with the network audio technology because you can see what is happening and you can make an announcement on the same network based on the audio.
Additionally, we also see more cameras which can perform in difficult light conditions which is not under anyone’s control, depending on the environment. There are various needs like – Can the camera work in normal light environment? Can the camera work in a difficult light environment, where there is a lot of dark and dry areas in the same frame? Can the camera perform in very low light? Can the camera perform in no light at all? These are the different kinds of scenarios. As the days progress,cameras are getting more powerful to provide colour images even in very low light conditions.
ITNewsBuzz: Companies are also excited about the IoT as they see a lot of potential. What is your take on that?
Sudhindra Holla: IoT is a big enough subject on its own. We are one of the sensors in IoT. Whatever is on the net is literally the internet of things; anything that can be connected, anything that can be controlled. Today, we are progressing as one of the sensors in IoT. Currently, there are more tools available now on how video can be analysed – either at the Edge, or when it comes to the central sight
For us, there are two things that are relevant when it comes to IoT. One is how secure our cameras are, because cyber security is very important. We believe that we should have no backdoor, which means the manufacturer should not have a backdoor in the camera which makes it available for somebody to hack the camera. For Axis, when you talk about IoT, cyber security is extremely important, which means the camera can have no back door. Additionally, we focus on how to make a camera as secure as possible from a firmware perspective so that it is not easy to hack our cameras. One of the simplest thing we do is once the customer logs into the camera for the first time, you need to change the password.
Secondly, the analytics is also important. This includes how the video can be generated, how can it be analysed and how it can be managed. Since this will be used for safety as well as business intelligence. The gathered video is used for business intelligence to make services better for end customers. It involves stitching different parts of the data to make sense of an event and howdifferent sensors in the systems can connect on IoT to make sense of an event.
ITNewsBuzz: Can you name some of your major projects that you have done for Indian Government?
Sudhindra Holla: Some of our reference-able customers are the safe cities. We now have projects like Bhavnagar, is one of the safe city project we did. Aurangabad, Kolhapur, Junagarh and Nanded are the other projects in safe cities that we did. These are the safe cities which are reference-able done in collaboration with the police and Government department.
ITNewsBuzz: Any other projects in Enterprise segment?
Sudhindra Holla: In the Enterprise, we do have some referenceable customers like Raheja IT Park, CEAT tyres, Fortis Healthcare, Mahindra and Mahindra, Mindtreeand Persisent Systems. Additionally we have the Café Coffee Day , La Marvella Hotel, and Novotel Goa Shrem in theretail and hospitality sector. The Indian Public School, Coimbatore and Dayalbagh Educational Institute in Agra
ITNewsBuzz: What are your expansion plans in India? Where do you see Axis Communications 5 years down the line?
Sudhindra Holla: Firstly, our approach is getting closer to our channel partners as we have always been a channel focussed company. Our strategy would be to get as close as possible to the channel partners, which, in turn, would lead to more projects and end customers. We have a lot of initiatives on how to grow our active channel and solution partner base, as well as when and where we can address more customers and leverage their contacts with the end customers. This is one part of our strategy where we have positioned our campaigns and marketing efforts to find, develop and retain our channel partners, which is the core of what we do. Secondly, in Tier 2 and tier 3 cities we are trying to leverage the reach of the distributors to see how we can get more channel partners in these cities.
Another aspect of our strategy includes trying to win big in government, safe cities and smart cities projects. Whenever we incorporate our segment approach we make Investments in Business Development Managers. These projects are on long term and we cannot deal with the customers on a daily basis. Since the lead time is too long what we have done is we make Investments in Business Development Managers. Currently, we have Business Development Managers covering Safe Cities, Smart Cities, Transportation and, our most recent addition, Retail and Hospitality.
Thirdly, our approach to cater to the 100-camera segment, we offer an integrated end to end solution from Axis, where we have our own network video recorder, storage inbuilt making our cameras easy to install. Legally, this is a complexity for the channel partner and end customers as they do not want to deal with multiple parties for a simple CCTV installation.
ITNewsBuzz: Finally, what would be your message to your end customers?
Sudhindra Holla: For our customers, to begin with, we would request them to look at TCO as an angle, which most customers don’t tend to forget in the long run. Once they get into a project, they realise that they are spending a lot of money. Secondly, I would request our customers to investigate cybersecurity angle, which is not commonly investigated in detail. However, from an Axis’ perspective, it is very important. Thirdly, I would like to thank them for the business and express my deepest gratitude for supporting us.
ITNewsBuzz: And your message for the partners?
Sudhindra Holla: We are a partner-lead organisation and we don’t have a hybrid model, where we sell to the end customers directly. For our channel partners, we request them to delight and keep our customers happy and support them with the same passion that Axis wants to do it. For us, it’s not about being present only 9 – 5 pm, 5 days a week. It is about passion in what we do and waking up every day with the feel that we are here saving people’s lives. We are providing safety to people. We want our channel partners to address customers with the same culture and passion, in terms ofdelighting our customers, and moving the market while working with us with the same level of openness, trust and transparency.