• Wendy O’Keeffe - Westcon Group | Executive Vice President, Asia-Pacific

    Updated 20/Apr/2012

    RIS engages daily with the most senior executives within the Asia-Pacific I.T. community, this month it's our privilege to interview Wendy O'Keeffe - Executive Vice President, Asia-Pacific from the Westcon Group, and ask her to share her views on the fast moving distribution landscape:-


     Westcon is a value added distributor of category-leading unified communications, network infrastructure, data center and security solutions with a global network of specialty resellers. Westcon teams create unique programs and provide exceptional financial and technical support to accelerate the business of their partners.

    Wendy O'Keeffe has been with the distributor since 2001 and was initially sales and marketing director, before taking over the general manager's post from Nick Verykios in 2004. Her key focus in the newly created role will be to spearhead Westcon's regional operations and growth initiatives including establishing operations in Vietnam.

    RIS Q: You successfully ran Westcon Australia for 10 years, before taking on the wider APAC role, what are the notable differences between a mature market such as Australia and the other Asian markets you're now tackling?


    Wendy - Main difference is the pace of technology adoption, markets like Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan have Governments who are assisting by driving the pace of high-technology adoption, however, other Government' are slower to set the pace. We see complex implementations such as ERP tending to be of simpler design, this is a good opportunity to evolve these business implementations in future, but the emerging markets prefer to throw people at the problem, given the lower cost of staff, whereas a more sophisticated use of the tools would prove more cost efficient. Security is an increasing issue in the emerging markets where sophisticated security solutions are a huge potential opportunity. Lastly, there's a massive opportunity for education where technical staff have fewer multiple-disciplines on average compared to mature markets. This is particularly clear with technical staff who may only have one or two disciplines, as opposed to a wider range of skills in mature markets -- making these people more valuable.


    RIS Q: Westcon has been very acquisitive for the last few years, do you expect this to continue, or will Westcon pause to consolidate its assets for a while in the current business environment?


    Wendy -- Westcon has aggressive growth goals across Asia this year, with between 12% to 25% YoY growth for our core vendors. We'll continue to both "build and buy" as appropriate. We've just started-up in Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and have recently completed our acquisition in Indonesia.


    RIS Q: Westcon Group appears to be taking market-share as a value distributor, to what do you put this success over other value distributors?


    Wendy -- Being a global VAD accounts for a lot, through our "GPN global supply system", Westcon can deliver in 127 countries around the world, and being able to offer this unique value to both vendors and regional channel partners is compelling. Westcon is able to focus on 4 core areas of business 1) Unified Communications 2) the Comstor business which is predominantly Cisco, 3) Westcon Solutions, a new operation focused on high value-add, and security vendors, and 4) the services business focused on cloud technology -- it's unclear yet how big this market will grow, but we're expecting 20% of the market will be made-up of cloud solutions by 2015.


    RIS Q: Of the recent acquisitions, which have been most successful and why, and what learning's do you have from the more difficult acquisitions?


    Wendy -- Datastor in New Zealand has been a huge success for us, with 104 staff now and 100% growth in 2.5 years. What Datastor did differently was build good differentiating tools for partners, like the configurator which is a very neat tool for complicated unified communications config's. Also the instillation service offered to partners has been very well received.


    RIS Q: Westcon is embarking on a new investment called Westcon Solutions -- what exactly is this, and what's the logic behind the idea beyond what the Westcon group can do as a mainstream VAD?


    Wendy -- The concept here is to provide local focus and more value-add such as proof-of-concepts for specific vendors. Security is a focus, as is the BIG complexity in the virtualized environment. Key vendors here are Checkpoint, SilverPeak, SolarWinds , Radware, Forescout, Certes Networks, Attachmate, and Splunk.


    RIS Q: Most vendors who are structured geographically around "APAC" or "APJ", are frustrated they can't engage one single VAD that can address all countries (China, Korea and Japan are the notable difficult cases), do you see a day when Westcon Group will move on these markets, and if yes, what needs to change?


    Wendy -- Yes absolutely.  We have just finalized our business incorporation in China with Westcon Solutions. Korea and Japan are on my "to do" list for mid this year and early next year.


    RIS Q: Westcon is approached daily I'm sure by small vendors begging you to distribute for them, what advice would you give them to ensure a "credible" approach, i.e. what homework would you expect them to have completed before an approach?


    Wendy -- (sigh) this is tough one, our advice to vendors initially is to be very clear on which markets to focus on, open an office, invest in some people in those markets and target a few SI's to get started. Engaging a distributor is also important but be clear on what your expectations are so that there is no disappointment on both sides.


    RIS Q: Of the emerging markets, is there one which excites you at the moment over any others?


    Wendy -- Indonesia! It's a very exciting market. We have just completed an acquisition in this market and we totally expect to double our business there very quickly not only in Jakarta but in other regional cities' in Indonesia.


    RIS Q: In the last few years, RIS has seen a trend for Carriers acquiring System Integrators in-order to sell managed services, and there is not an SI today who doesn't claim a "cloud" solution of some description, what do you see as the next exciting trend in the I.T. channels eco-system?


    Wendy -- This is always hard to predict, but undoubtedly "cloud" will play a large part in the model, if, as predicted 20% of the solutions will be cloud oriented by 2015.


    RIS Q: It's a new financial year for Westcon, what are your top three proprieties for fiscal 2012?


    Wendy -- Now we've completed our Indonesia acquisition, consolidate this asset and invest to expand. Secondly, invest and grow our China business, and thirdly, continue to review acquisitions that make sense to our business. On top of this we need to address one of our biggest challenges which is ensuring we can access talented labor. In the past 2 years we have doubled our staff numbers and we fully expect that this trend will continue at the pace of our aggressive business growth.


    For more information please visit:- www.westcongroup.com

ABOUT Chinese (HK) ç°¡é«”

RIS is pleased to conduct interviews with notable IT channels Executives in Asia Pacific, to discuss topics relevant to the evolution of the I.T. channels business. Our goal is to give high profile executives, a forum to share their thoughts on vendor issues, partner issues, growth opportunities, market moves, cool solutions, and how the market is moving and evolving. The objective is not to just talk technology, but focus on its business relevance, and how this impacts the growth and profitability of the partners -- and how vendors will adapt their partner programmes to facilitate this.