“Netgear, not just a router company” Alexandra Mehat, Senior manager SMB Product Marketing, Netgear: Interview

NETGEAR isn’t an unfamiliar name; it has been in the market for last 22 years, delivering network & storage products to consumers, businesses and service providers. The products of NETGEAR are built on a variety of technologies such as wireless (WiFi and LTE), Ethernet and power line. The product line consists of wired and wireless devices including storage and cloud to enable networking, data management, broadband access, and network connectivity. NETGEAR is currently working in approximately 25 countries including India.

To know more about the NETGEAR product strategy and how they work abreast with India’s digital transformation we had a one to one interaction with Ms. Alexandra Mehat, Senior Manager, SMB Product Marketing along with Doug Chang, Senior Product Line Manager for Storage, NETGEAR.

Ms. Alexandra Mehat, Senior Manager, SMB Product Marketing

Ms. Alexandra Mehat, Senior Manager, SMB Product Marketing

First of all, we would like to know about you, so our readers can get a glimpse of your working experience with NETGEAR and how it is different from other companies.

I have been working with NETGEAR for almost 2 years now. It has been a great experience, what I found different here is the working culture and people. Every individual here is really helpful; they pay attention to the thought & ideas that others present. Another thing is the diversity in the company; in our team, there are people from 8 different countries, speaking 6 different languages which is really something unique which gives us a chance to learn new things. For instance, I’m from France and work in the US. It pushes us to innovate further and come up with better products.

NETGEAR looks into the needs of its customers including the companies as well. It connects individuals over the internet allowing the work to be carried out at a pace faster than usual in the best possible way; also it doesn’t compromise on the performance.

NETGEAR has been in the market for a very long time (22 years) so being a veteran part of the network and technology industry what are the changing trends you see?

When one hears the name NETGEAR the first picture that comes to their mind is that of a Router company, but we are much more than just that, SMB forms a huge part of our company.

NETGEAR started 22 years ago with basic hubs and a mission to provide a device for the people to connect over the internet. It was limited at that time; today everything is present on the internet. It has been growing with heaps of devices such as smartphones, laptops, smart watches, play stations etc

The market is fundamentally changing. When we started the resellers were the ones selling our products. Later, one more thing added called DMR digital market and retailers, they are the ones who put up a website with a corporate account, wherein consumers come to review all the products required by them. Once they like any product, they call the account manager remotely to get advice and make the deal. This model of selling was very good 5 to 8 years ago. Then Amazon came into existence and we got a fundamental change in the behaviour of how people purchase the IT products. Now individuals directly purchase the products from Amazon.

NETGEAR has grabbed this changing trend and reacted to it. We have adopted the new model to make sure the product is easily available to consumer online and also revolutionize the way to operate the network device which directly or indirectly is beneficial for our resellers too.

The new way of operating network products is providing a common area to customers to manage multiple devices. So, when the customer buys a device from the internet he/she through this common platform, can configure, manage, monitor multiple devices using a single platform called Inside App which can be used to remotely manage and monitor through a smartphone.

Earlier, the admin had to sit in the front of the computer residing in the same network where the product has been installed, now because of the smartphone app (called Inside App), you can do all kind of admin stuff from anywhere on the go. It allows you to manage multiple routers, switches, multiple storage devices; multiple WiFi access points pretty much all the NETGEAR products.

We are doing such a thing because people are buying from Amazon not from the retailer; it’s for their convenience and to make the setup process easier.

Earlier a reseller used to buy from NETGEAR and simply sell to the products to the customers and make 10% or 15% but now that percentage is going the e-commerce platforms.

So, the resellers today have become service providers with help of our platform they easily connect to the customers using a smartphone to help in setting up and managing the network. The security scenario is different in the service provider account and the owner or admin account. Working in the same direction we have stripped down the enterprise products with a set of features that the customers really desire, we deliver that at a minimal cost that a NETGEAR differentiation.

Do you think that the NETGEAR is more towards the SMB which makes a certain type of gap between you and the consumer market?

We exist in the consumer space as well as the business space. The innovations we bring are on both sides and are complimentary. At NETGEAR, every technology we develop is used on both sides. The gap as mentioned does exist, there is a difference between the SMB and consumer space. For this, we have been bringing features of large enterprises in SMBs in order to open new ways for innovation. Similarly, a number of houses are now behaving like a small business due to excess amount of space, for such conditions we have introduced routers with mesh technology. These routers can work efficiently in the SMBs and in-home spaces. This is how we are thinning the difference by taking the SMB and consumer space abreast.

What kind of competition are you facing from other network product manufacturers like D-Link, ASUS, Belkin and more in India?

NETGEAR is engaged in multiple product segments and multiple market segments. In each segment, we have our competition. Like you pointed out the other brands, they are somewhere more inclined towards the consumer space and slightly belong in the lower range. If you take a look at the consumer market most of the products are extremely value conscious or extremely performance conscious or in between, there are some customers who want balance. So, we target customers somewhere from mid to high range in terms of performance and we focus less on the price-sensitivity. We love competition because it makes us strong, no competition means no market. There exists a healthy competition in the consumer space, while we are engaged in multiple areas in the SMB space, we are in wire networking, Wireless storage.

 

Where does the Netgear exactly stands in India?

We have a stronghold in the Indian market. In India, we target mainly the SMB or consumers that fall under the premium home segment. Customers looking for quality products don’t mind paying a premium. When an individual has high-end devices or gizmos in the house they don’t compromise on laying down cables or putting up performance repeaters around the house. We are focused in the premium home segment, we need to give quality products to customers which are loaded with features, for example, the premium router they come with parental control and is all app based. Therefore, with the app, you can manage your child or anyone else’s smartphone access to the internet, not only the websites but also you can block the access of apps. For parental control, we have tied up with Disney and we called it a circle. The idea behind this is to provide a lot of value to our product. In the SMB side, the consumer will get the unmatched warranty in the industry, for example, our fully managed switches come with lifetime warranty, the storage range of products come with 5 years of warranty; no other vendor in the storage space gives you five years warranty. That’s how we add value and differentiate ourselves from other competitors in India.

NETGEAR is a worldwide multinational company. How is the Indian market different from other regions in terms of sale and consumption?

We have witnessed a sea of changes in how products are purchased. Today, the trend of product purchasing outside India is more inclined towards the online platforms. Earlier, one Wi-Fi was good enough, now a multiple WiFi access is required because of high bandwidth consumption both at home and at public places.

The service model in India is slightly behind the world, probably because e-commerce platforms have just started here. Also, not all products are appropriate for the online audiences because of their complexity. So, that’s why we are providing a software platform to manage almost every product of NETGEAR via smartphones, which helps the end customer and also our resellers to become full-fledged service providers.

The DIY concept is still not substantial in India so for the business products we do tie up with system integrators. We also host technical workshops to literate our partners about new technology implemented in the NETGEAR and how they can implement them. We try and make our system integrators comfortable to promote NETGEAR to the customers and that’s how we cater our products to the SME segment of the Indian market. If in future the e-commerce industry rises, we will promote our product there as well. Our focus is, therefore, to train our system integrators partners so that they are capable of installing and selling our products

NETGEAR has a wide range of products out of them what key product you are focusing in India to promote?

Basically, NETGEAR as a brand is more focused towards SMB. We majorly serve the companies those have 500-700 nodes network up to 1000 nodes, not more that. In that particular category, if you talk,  definitely we are going to promote our switches, 10gig products, layer 2/layer 3 switches; wireless products, and cloud products.

We specifically target three product lines in our hardware segment right now which is storage, switching, and wireless. When it comes to management, we target the cloud subscription model to manage all of this and that also our key messaging on the business side. On the home front, we are pushing more on premium routers based on mesh technology.

AI is a popular subject nowadays, so can we see such technology in the router in near future?

In terms of AI, we had a separate line of product called Arlo, where we have some intelligence, which has built-in face recognition however in overall NETGEAR segment there is not much usage AI. Also, we look AI as a big word and in these two letters, there are many possibilities hidden. One of which has been picked up by us and is known as machine learning that is building or refining algorithm based on prior behaviour. In our switches, we can observe which applications running more frequently in the home or business; which MAC address is getting high or low traffic including certain other monitoring possibilities. All the data generated by these observations accumulate over the time and can feed into the NETGEAR management software to optimize network either topology or configuration. To optimize such situation we need a software-driven configuration that is an essence of SDN, so all this can be considered as machine learning. Also, we have invested in this particular area and it built up over time to handle more complex tasks.

 

ARLO which is a separate entity of NETGEAR, is there any plans to introduce such kind of other brands in India?

We will be introducing such kind of products from time to time especially in security. Whatever products we develop is from a global perspective and India is not isolated from the rest of the NETGEAR market. The new products we introduce in other markets will be available in India as well. We as a team are quite synced with what products we are getting from the headquarters and we love to sell those products because they are more specific to technology rather than a box. Our plan is more technology oriented and it is a solution kit rather than a box. Around 89% of all NETGEAR products are available in India, the only exceptions are maybe a couple of Wi-Fi of products that we don’t certify for India. For example, cable modems do not work here in India because there isn’t a market here

 

What challenges are you facing in the Indian market?

We are not facing any kind of challenges in selling our products in India because we are focused and we do understand the verticals we should cater to and what customers we should tap in. So, in terms of challenges, I would say being a geographically varied nation making a presence is one of the key parts, where we are not able to focus, especially on the CDE class cities as compared to ABD classes. We keep getting responses from our system integrators and service providers. In the coming few years we will try to tap into CDE class cities as well. Reaching those places is a major challenge right now for us because in terms of presence. We are waiting till the time our infrastructure is ready to serve those customers in terms of service, in terms of availability of the product, and people those can manage such small cities. So as far as challenges are concerned geographical presence is something I see as a challenge otherwise it’s more of an opportunity rather than a challenge.

 

How is NETGEAR progressing in terms of business in India, would you like to share some sales numbers with us?

This year most probably we would be closing at 15 million dollars, so the target for the next year would be approximately somewhere 22/21 million dollars in terms of numbers.

Would you like to give some message to our readers or the Indian consumers?

India is not a very challenging market but an exciting one and we are certainly taking the Indian market very seriously. We try to look globally at every single country where India is one of the major developing countries or should I say an almost developed country which is one of the key markets for us. NETGEAR is all about the people, their support, and innovation. We know that India will help us to innovate in the market of networking & technology for sure…

 

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One Response

  1. BudgetGuru September 8, 2018

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