Kathy Gibson reporting from Amsterdam – Acer, possibly better known as a vendor of consumer notebooks, tablets and smartphones, is making a major investment in the commercial market.
Speaking at a media and partner event in Amsterdam yesterday, senior corporate vice-president Walter Deppeler pointed out that the PC industry is currently undergoing the biggest transformation in its history.

This change embraces the new devices that are available on the market: from ultrabooks to tablets; coupled with the longer replacement cycles being experienced for commercial desktop and laptop PCs.

“And this increased desktop lifecycle is largely being driven by the new content devices that are on end-users’ buying list,” he says.

Windows 8, which was expected to breathe new life into the PC industry, has also seen a slow start, Deppeler says, and the full benefit of the technology has not yet been seen by the end-user.
“But with the current challenges, there are also opportunities, and the new device iterations give us the possibility to grow our business in the future.”

Deppeler also points to the emerging markets as offering new opportunities for vendors. Moving forward, in a strategy aimed at increasing its penetration into the commercial market, Acer has made investments in a number of areas.

“The most important is the organisation,” Deppeler says. “We have a strong new team in EMEA, with strong leadership on the commercial side. We are establishing strong value creation on a regional basis, and are also looking to ensure brand relevance.”

He tells IT-Online that a key element of the organisational change has been to separate the commercial product development and sales teams from the consumer side of the business. This move, which has taken place over the last few months, has allowed products and go-to-market strategies specifically designed for the commercial market to flourish.

Acer starts with an advantage in terms of brand relevance, since it is a market leader in the consumer mobile market. It also has a broad channel presence, with more than 60 000 outlets in EMEA currently selling Acer products.

“We are planning to improve our point of sales,” Deppeler says. “We are currently shipping massive volumes and we are planning to ship millions more products.”

When it comes to value creation, he says it’s important to strike the right balance between risk and opportunity. To do this, Acer has appointed different types of business managers within its country offices to interact with different market. In addition, the company has been able to increase its average selling price based on the better value that it offers.

“Then, of course, we are also planning effective execution – we need to walk the talk in order to expand the commercial business.”

Deppeler adds that the consumerisation of IT is changing how users want to use technology and, as a result, it’s changing how IT departments need to deploy systems.

While the end-user want attractive products, with great design and new technology – particularly when it comes to mobile devices – IT still needs to consider TCO (total cost of ownership), standards, security and performance.

Acer is coming to the party with products that give the user what he wants while helping IT to address the properly manage enterprise systems.

The company has a full range of end-user products that meet the needs of management users, mobile workers, back office users and specialists; running the gamut from handheld devices right up to desktop PCs and workstations.

“Our strategy for the commercial business is to create value for all of our stakeholder: end-users, channel and key strategic alliance partners,” Deppeler says.

Importantly, he says, Acer is very clear on its go-to-market strategy and has a 100% indirect business model. The new team based across EMEA is tasked with growing the commercial side of the business, he adds, while service remains a core focus.

The initial focus of the commercial business will be in the SMB space and the education market, says Deppeler. He stresses that these two vertical markets are a starting point only, and the company will expand into new verticals in a phased and disciplined way.

Jakob Olsen, vice-president: commercial division at Acer EMEA, explains that Acer has made massive investment into the commercial market, including into products, services and partner networks.

He points out that the company has a strong history in EMEA and is currently the top consumer vendor in the region.

“Importantly, we are strong in execution,” he says. “We have made the investment, and we have the information, so we are well positioned to make a difference in the market.”

Consumerisation, which has been a buzzword for some years now, is already entrenched in some areas of the market and is becoming an issue now in the SMB and consumer space.

BYOD (bring your own device) has also made its way into most organisations, and enterprise IT departments are finding that they have to deal with myriad devices whether they are prepared for them or not.

“Cloud is another buzzword – but it’s real,” he says. “Users are now able to access information wherever they are.”

These are the trends that Acer has to address in order to make a difference in the commercial market, Olsen says. “We come from a position of strength in the consumer market, so this is our time; our chance to take consumerisation into the B2B market. Few companies are better positioned to be able to do this.”

Acer not only offers a full product line-up for the commercial market, it is putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to guaranteeing the quality and reliability that business users demand.

“Customers want to know if our TravelMate devices are reliable, and if they can trust Acer,” Olsen says. “The answer is, yes you can – and if we let you down we will pay you. If your TravelMate breaks down within the first year, we will fix it and we will give you half of your money back.

“That’s a strong message that we are sending to the market.”

The fact that the B2B product portfolio covers a range of areas – servers and storage; desktops; workstations; notebooks; tablets; smartphones; monitors; projectors; and thin clients – means there are few companies that can match Acer’s solution line-up, he adds.

Pictured right: Walter Deppeler, senior corporate vice-president of Acer.