Home » INTERVIEW » WD addresses a comprehensive portfolio of storage solutions between consumer, commercial and enterprise segments.

WD addresses a comprehensive portfolio of storage solutions between consumer, commercial and enterprise segments.

In a free wheeling conversation, Jaganathan Chelliah, Director, Marketing, Western Digital India elaborates on the specific GTM gameplan for each segment.

What is the portfolio of solutions Western Digital (WD) offers in India today and how are they catering to the different segments?

From a product portfolio standpoint, courtesy the integration of three different entities which happened a few years ago — SanDisk, Western Digital and HGST– we have the capability today to offer end-to-end solutions both for the home consumer and the enterprise customer. It could be a flash-based solution or a drive-based solution. We have the most comprehensive portfolio of brands too.

If you look at for the consumer segment, we have SanDisk, which is a very popular flash storage brand and then we have WD. For the commercial segment, it could be an NVR or a DVR in the surveillance space or it could be a NAS solution for offering entry level storage for an SMB or the enterprise solution. When I say commercial segment, I am talking about storage requirements which go inside a host device. We have very strong product brands in that space. We call that as our colors of brands. We have layered brands. We have WD Black on top, which is for high performance needs. Then you have WD Blue, which is for productivity needs. And then we have WD Green, which is for entry level basic computers. We have both HDDs and SSDs in this portfolio. We also have another brand called WD Purple, which is for the smart video segment. This is the CCTV or the surveillance segment which we call as a smart video segment. We also have in the surveillance space today a micro SD card  called Purple microSD card catering to the surveillance camera requirements.

On the enterprise side, we have both enterprise hard drives and SSDs.  Western Digital Ultrastar is a brand for enterprise hard drives. For enterprise SSDs, we also have a storage platform called just a bunch of drives JBODS and JBOFs where you can have petabytes and terabytes of data stored. If an enterprise or a data center is looking for backup as a solution or augmenting their storage requirements, we have the necessary solutions to cater to their requirements.

It has been quite some time since SanDisk came into the WD family, but you have still maintained the separate branding. Why has the Sandisk brand not got subsumed into the Western Digital landscape?

The company took a conscious decision of retaining the SanDisk brand because it is very popular with the consumers. That is a great equity for you to continue with and over the years even in India we have nurtured SanDisk as a very strong brand in the consumer space. We do a lot of initiatives both with respect to end users and the channel to actually develop that brand and therefore we have retained it.

What is the GTM strategy WD follows for the consumer segment?

We believe in an integrated marketing campaign led GTM model. What do I mean by that? For any company to succeed in any category, you need to have a strong brand. You need to have a very good demand from the customer segment, and you need to have a very strong and committed partner network to take your offerings to the market. We build a very coercive campaign for each of our brands to ensure that we meet all these parameters.

Let’s take SanDisk as a brand. What we do is on a regular basis we run digital led brand campaigns to ensure that SanDisk is top of mind amongst all consumers. SanDisk has a very close association with storage needs of host devices like mobiles and cameras and laptops. We invest a lot in creating a very high brand perception for SanDisk. We are advertising through digital media to create a lot of demand. In addition to that in smaller markets we actually do outdoor led advertising. After that we have a strong retail coverage. Today in India we have a direct reach of approximately around 7,000 mobile retailers across 100 cities whereby we engage with them, help them with branding their stores, educate them on the product that they can advocate it to their customers. This is how we have actually built new categories. Building brands, building new categories, creating demand, this is how we actually work on the consumer space.

What are the channel programs that you have in place for these 7000 retailers?

More people will be selling our products, but from a marketing standpoint, we have a program called Geo Expansion initiative through which we are able to directly touch 7,000 retailers. This will be across 100 cities for us to run our marketing programs at their retail outlets.

We have one channel program on the consumer space called SanDisk League of Games. This is an exclusive program. It is an annualized rewards program run for our 65 regional distributors. These are the regional distributors who take our products into thousands of retail outlets where SanDisk products are displayed. It is an annualized rewards program where we have a nice performance based targets done on a quarterly basis. Depending on what and how they achieve, they are rewarded appropriately on a quarterly basis. And we also have an annual recognition for their performance. It is a very, very well-recognized and appreciated program called SanDisk League of Games

Can you illustrate how you are disseminating this message in a more contextual manner for specific product categories?

I will give you an example which is in the mobile space. Today one of the fastest growing categories for us is the Dual drive category. Dual drive is nothing but an USB for your phone. This is something we identified as a significant opportunity in India because you do not have any easy means of transferring data that runs into GBs. Now how do you transfer data from your computers, which runs into GBs? USBs, right? So, we had a product in our portfolio which is a USB for your phone.

We have taken that as an opportunity, and we have actually built a completely new category out of it which is significant business for our partners to do. How did we do that? We looked at a very simple insight in India where consumers go for USBs as pendrives. India is the only market where you call USBs as pendrives. We therefore created a simple campaign called Pendrive for Mobile. And India is the only country where we actually created a set of digital videos in multiple languages: Hindi, Tamil, Telugu.

What is the GTM strategy followed for the commercial segment of products?

Talking about the commercial part, right, we have a similar model to the consumer space, except that here it is more channel centric. We engage with two national distributors, Rashi and Indra, and 1000+ partners. We also have the surveillance partners in the commercial segment. We use technology heavily and we have built our WhatsApp based interaction model with these commercial partners (both SSDs and surveillance) to keep them up-to-date on our products, give them the latest information of the industry trends, run many training programs. This is called myWD WhatsApp Communication program.

Within commercial, how have you forayed through SSDs into the Indian market?

As we speak today client SSDs, which are drives that are going in say computers and laptops, in terms of total market about all SSDs put together, has actually overtaken the hard disks. Now this has not happened overnight. This is something we look at. We as an organization have been consciously working on it over the past 18 months to two years where we realized well in advanced that the market is going on transition to SSDs because of the inherent benefits that you have for using SSDs over hard disk. We identified this. We worked closely with our channel partners and over the last several months we have educated, engaged with 1,000+ partners and educated them on the need, the benefit of using an SSD over a hard disk drive, given them the necessary sales tools to talk to their customers and convince them to actually move in.

Now within this there is one other opportunity, which is in addition to upgrade. The gaming is also another segment which is growing well. That is another area where we need a high-performance expectation for most of it. Our NVMe technology based SSDs play a significant role. We have a specific initiative to target the gaming community to promote our WD Black SSDs. This is how actually we build our marketing initiatives for SSDs. We also have a rewards program for our partners.

What about the surveillance partner network which will be traditionally different from your IT channel ecosystem?

The overlap between the IT channel and surveillance channel is minimal. As we speak right now, we through our WhatsApp based communication model, we touch base with around 3,500 surveillance partners. We have a set of initiatives targeting the IT channel partners, and we have a set of initiatives targeting the surveillance channel. They are separate. Even in our myWD WhatsApp Communication program we have a specific channel for our SSD partners and we have a specific channel for our surveillance partners. You cannot mix the communication for the two because they will find half of the communication irrelevant.


From the surveillance partner ecosystem, particularly from a system integration perspective someone is going and doing the implementation. We have built an engagement model with the surveillance system integrators also. One of the big challenges that we come across is that they are spread across the country. They are few and far in betweenYou cannot go face to face, always do a face to face engagement. So, we use technology heavily to have a very frequent interaction with these partners.

Now comes the GTM strategy that WD has for the enterprise solutions?

The enterprise business is relatively new for us. We are actually building our partner network right now as we speak. From an enterprise perspective, we do two things. One, we want to take the product in terms of awareness to the end users. We actually do focused advertising campaigns targeting CIOs to talk about our products. We also do CIO roundtables to share our information.  From a channel perspective, we have a program for that called Western Digital Elite Promotion under which we enroll our channel partners.

How many partners will be there?

We have Avnet, Tech Data and Rashi today as our 3 national distributors for enterprise. As I said this is a new program that we have launched. We have just about done our first initiative in Delhi. Then we are going from city to city. The next city is going to Mumbai and after that we do in Bangalore and after that we go to next city. We are enrolling partners and in this we are offering a mix of a combination of training as well as incentive programs for all this. This is how we are looking at our enterprise partners.

Do you have any specific incentivization program for the partners especially in the enterprise part where you are trying to grow?

We have introduced the Western Digital Elite Promotion. This is focused on our enterprise products only. We have Ultrastar HDDs and Ultrastar SSDs. We have a specific program for this and then we have a specific incentive program for our storage platforms. These are like large storage boxes which can be done as. Both are separate. The reason being storage platform requires a long lead time sales cycle whereas the hard disk necessities are more like here and now. We have specific initiative incentive programs for these two. Even on the commercial side particularly for our higher end products, the WD Black brand, or WD Black SSDs, we have a specific incentive program targeting the system integrators.

Do you see any of these SSD partners moving into that enterprise partner category or are they looking at cross selling or up selling solutions between commercial and enterprise?

Up selling happens most of the time. Most of the partners whom we engage for client SSDs are into either gaming or selling high end workstations. That is one category.  The other category is who are doing upgrades at the entry level. So, I bring in a laptop with a hard disk. How do I improve the performance of the laptop? Just take the hard disk, put the SSD and get best performance boost. Our upgrade happens right within that. Whoever is selling into organizations which have workstations requirements we ensure that the partners recommend the right SSD solution. The performance SSD in this case is WD Black and whoever is having expertise to integrate gaming rigs. Our recommendation there would be to have our WD Black SSDs with the heat sink model because machines generate lot of heat. This is how we actually segment and upgrade.

What would be the key focus areas for WD for the coming 18 to 24 months?

We have identified four growth opportunities for us. One is surveillance and within that home segment. The commercial side of the surveillance business side is having a natural momentum, and the home segment today is at the cusp of significant adoption as far as surveillance solution is concerned.

The second one is the rapid growth that is happening in the client SSD space because of the huge install base of laptops out there. We are seeing upgrades happening in a significant — in a fast pace. Plus the emergence of gaming as a use case today where you are having integrated gaming machines being done. For long time integration is coming back in the PC gaming. High performance SSD and mainstream SSD, WD Black, WD Blue is another opportunity for us.

The third one is on the consumer side where you are seeing significant opportunities for personal storage solutions. How do you have personal storage solutions to manage data? I am talking about external hard disk or the pendrives for mobile that I was talking about.

The fourth area is on the enterprise segment. We see significant opportunities for us particularly for data backup and surveillance in the enterprise space.

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