Ever since India emerged as a domestic market for IT, there has been a constant evolution in the market dynamics. Trends have changed rapidly. New technologies have evolved and new markets have opened up. At the same time, many old technologies and old distribution houses have lost their sheen and succumbed to the pressure.
Over a period of time, security and storage have emerged as the complex technologies and complex aspect of the entire IT ecosystem, because these two areas have posed a challenge to every customer starting from small enterprises to large corporates. There has been maximum innovation, maximum value addition and also maximum enablement in these areas. Under these circumstances, the distributors and their channel partners carry utmost importance from the vendors’ as well as customers’ perspective. If you believe the fact that there are only a few companies which have succeeded in the space of value addition and enablement for channel partners and their customers, Inflow Technologies is one of them.
Byju Pillai, President & CEO, Inflow Technologies Pvt. Ltd., says, “We identify ourselves as a ‘Technology Enabler’. What sets our model apart is our engagement level with Technology Partners (vendors)/Channel Partners and their customers. While our pre-sales support for partners includes customer presentation, solutions assessment and designing and also setting up joint proof-of-concept or demo solution, our post-sales support extends to enabling partners to provide implementation, maintenance and training services to customers.”
Nearly 30 per cent of the Inflow employees are on the technical side, which gives a fair idea about the level of value addition that it provides.
The mission of the company is to be the leader in providing Information Management, Communication Solutions and Services to its customers. To enable them adopt new technologies and to use “Information” effectively to create business strategies and be productive, efficient and competitive, deliver the above through effectively aligning its strategies with those of its Technology Partners and Channel Partners.
He adds,”“Our special emphasis will be on delivering Professional and Educational Services to our Customers through our Channel Partners.”
Asked about the core strength of the company, Byju maintains, “The large distribution houses have excellent processes and systems to suit volume distribution, which may not necessarily work for a Technology Enabler/VAD Model. Whereas our business model is aligned to be in line with the Technology Partners/Vendors whose emphasis would be on offering technology solutions to their end-customers through effective and efficient deployment of Products, People and Process.”
Therefore, Inflow aligns with the vendors’ requirements accordingly and partners with the ideal/optimum set of channel partners and delivers the solution. As part of the sales process, Inflow’s Information Managers deliver customer presentations, solution assessment and designing, setting up of demo/POCs, align with the Channel Partners, structure the commercials, support partners in delivering SLAs to their customers, etc. as part of the post-sale support offerings.
At present, Inflow is focussing mainly on high growth Information Security, Storage Management, Performance and Networking Products. The company offers Professional and Educational Services where it imparts training to channels and enterprise users. Currently, Inflow is aligned with 17 Technology Vendors, who are leaders in their solution spectrum. Some of the leading names include Check Point, Nokia, McAfee, Websense, Ironport, Radware, NetApp, Quantum and Packeteer.
The success of the company lies in three P’s, i.e. People, Products and Processes. And, Byju adds, “While we plan to double our staff strength in the next 12 months, we plan to ensure, we fine-tune our products and solutions offering by increasing reach and depth as we plan for more new tie-ups in the networking, WAN optimization and application software space, we are investing on strong processes.”
Currently, Inflow has a base of 180+ Channel Partners and 100 per cent of its business is through this set of partners. These numbers are growing QoQ, which explains the huge acceptability of our “Technology Enabler” model within the channel community.
This two-way commitment goes much beyond participating in a few self- promotional events which have limited or momentary bonding. Instead, the company focusses on long-term business engagement that can make a partner stronger with technologies, technology vendors and in turn their end- customers. Byju adds, “Our business engagement could be as small as from sharing extra margins, an attractive turnover bonus, generation of leads, tailor-make motivational schemes or even customized customer focussed programmes or pre-sales support for partners that include customer presentation, solutions assessment and designing and also setting up joint proof-of-concept or demo solution.””“Our post-sales support extends to enabling partners to provide implementation, maintenance and training services to customers – all of them custom-built based on an individual channel partner’s requirement,” he adds.
Towards fulfilling the requirements of the channel partners, Inflow runs a number of programmes, which are customized to the partners’ requirements with the ultimate aim to address an end-customer’s requirement. The same are customized based on a Channel Partner’s niche positioning, intention, focus and requirement or it could be based on a Technology Vendor’s need to add brand value to their product line and thus have programmes that enhance the mindshare in turn, market share. Programmmes can be end-customer meets for Channel Partner/s, offering of Professional and Educational Services as part of a the package, lead generation programmes, channel sales manpower motivational programmes, technical hands-on training sessions for channel technical teams, etc.
As the industry is converging, networking, storage and security are getting tightly integrated with each other. Inflow Technologies is also envisaging a big opportunity in this space. Towards this, the company has already tied up with Allied Telesyn.
Inflow is also present across the country with regional/area offices in Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Kochi, Navi Mumbai, Pondicherry, Ahmedabad and Colombo. Apart from this, the company has an international office in Singapore. Being a 100-per cent indirect model, 100 per cent of the company’s business happens through Channel Partners. And, the company is expecting to increase the number of its business partners with the expansion of its business portfolio – new tie-ups as well as new solutions from existing technology vendors.
The company has achieved significant success in a short span of time. Byju says,–“It clearly attributes to a few things that are happening in our marketplace which we have capitalized – (a) Expanding business opportunities in the Information Management space; (b) Excellent, committed, knowledgeable team; (c) Unique business model; (d) Investing time and money on building Processes; (e) Strong alignment with the Vendor and Channel Partners to deliver right solutions to the customer; and (f) Expansion in customer knowledge for such solutions.”
Inflow started its commercial business operations in September 2005 and has since grown over 100 per cent. The
company’s FY 06-07 turnover has stood at US$14.5 million. And, the current fiscal estimates are at US$32 million, which will be over a 100 per cent growth. He adds, “We would want to maintain a minimum CAGR of 60 per cent for the next four years.”
With a good degree of success under its belt, Inflow wants to sustain the momentum by working on four P’s. It wants to expand on its’“Products” portfolio through specific solutions that will drive growth on Primary Storage, WAN optimization, Unified Threat Management, Intrusion Prevention, Anti-spam, Vulnerability Management and Networking. The company also wants to expand on its “People” front to double its staff strength and investment on “Processes” to make the system robust and, at the same time, flexible enough to suit the business model. Inflow will be deploying a customized ERP to handle the increased business requirements during this fiscal.
Last but not the least, Inflow will expand its “Partner base” - Reach, width and depth in alignment with the market need/vendors go-to-market strategy to be achieved through Channel Partnerships. Sign up with new Technology Partners during the year within the “Information Management & Communication space”