GCR transforming IT channels into digital evangelists: Tony Tsao

The advent of IoT, Cloud, and AI will accelerate B2B marketplace for technology ecosystem, says Tony Tsao, Chairman, GCR and former CEO of D-Link.

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ICT vendors and their channel ecosystem foresee a big market for implementing business transformation solutions for organizations. Few years ago, GCR was incepted by Tony Tsao, former CEO of D-Link, as a comprehensive B2B marketplace for vendors and their channels to pursue new-age solutions like cloud, IoT, and AI. 

ChannelWorld India had a detailed interaction with Tony Tsao, Founder, Chairman & CEO at GCR (Global Channel Resources) on the next wave for IT channels in digital era and GCR’s business transformation solutions that are offered as SaaS / IaaS / PaaS connected IoT solutions over cloud. 

Edited Excerpts. 

What is the current state of digital transformation globally and how is GCR helping the organizations on this journey? 
Hailing from a networking background for over two decades, I clearly foresaw the critical trend, couple of years ago, of network getting connected to different devices. As D-Link CEO, I transformed the company from just ‘buy and sale’ Product Company into a solutions and services tech vendor.

Digital technologies is emerging super-fast with cloud computing, mobile internet, 5G that is impacting consumers’ lives and the users across various verticals including smart retail and smart education. The traditional industry has now transformed into digital form with connected processes and inter dependent IT operations including the supply chain. The chipset is powerful, sensors have more power, modern apps are powerful, and the datacenter is everywhere. Few years ago, people spoke about IoT and cloud computing. Now the talk revolves around AI and blockchain. But everything is related as it is all about information transformation for modern businesses. 

Tony Tsao’s Noteworthy Take-Away on Modern World

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Localize the deals and globalize the platform

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IoT is no longer ‘I only Talk’ in data-centric world

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Plain hardware boxes now intelligence-loaded by software

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Customer relationship to be frequent than periodic RFPs

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Traditional channels to minimize vanilla ‘buy & sale’ model

GCR wants to catch the services opportunity than a mere product sale by localizing the solutions for the end users. Digital transformation should provide key deliverables – increase the revenues, improve productivity and reduce the cost – for the companies. IT projects earlier took a year to plan, six months to implement and more months to execute; but now the projects need rapid deployment with clear ROI and business outcomes. 

Plain hardware days and its value seem numbered with software-defined world and IT delivered more as a service to organizations.

In the past, IT was just IT and it was about connecting devices. But IT today has become much customized for different industries, different apps for a particular business outcome. The hardware provider without a local touch really does not know about what the end user wants in their IT infra. 

Many hardware manufacturing companies in China and Taiwan are adding software to help the user see the real value. The power has shifted now to add value from software, the data, and content – and not plain hardware. That’s the big shift from the vendor push to the pull by the users’ demand. 

Big manufacturers in Taiwan selling boxes to OEMs now have a software division so that they can add value to their hardware and the end user. They put software and add firmware difference. It will still be a box but evolving into more intelligent box than pure vanilla hardware. Many IoT vendors are also emerging worldwide across countries and not just in the USA.  Even cloud computing for different verticals means attaching hardware and software / service solutions to convert them into business transformation solutions like IoT solutions.  

This is a colossal opportunity to provide service to the end organizations through a regular relationship, know the customer, talk to customers, and add value to the customers. Channels need to have robust online platform and systems to enhance this relationship, which forms the core of GCR that offers business transformation solutions from vendors across the globe. We validate and integrate functional solutions from multiple vendors on our technology platform and offer vertical specific comprehensive solutions to the end customers through our premium service partners. We have full-fledged India team who can deliver these solutions to our customers through the channel partners.

Global Channel Resources is five years old with multi- country operations. What’s been the report card till date? 

We started small incepting the company in Taiwan and in the first three years, we were engaged to build the marketplace with a clear vision behind the concept. We contemplated on which products would fit well with the concept and market reality, which was a learning stage. We are still enhancing the platform. Four years ago, we had a couple of products; now we have hundreds of products. That means the market is getting ready for this B2B marketplace model. 

In July 2017, we decided to make India the home market for GCR mainly because more than 43% of IoT products are coming out from India. And India is one of the fastest developing software country. Fifteen years ago the companies used to approach China and Taiwan for hardware products. In the past couple of years, India is leading worldwide in software solutions around IoT, AI, and mobility. 

With India as a base, we need IT channel partners to deliver IoT. We need to have lot of technology vendors outside and within India to use our platform and set up the channel. The platform needs to have increased traffic and also enhance it to become localized in terms of content as India is an English speaking country. Like IoT is ecosystem of value chain through distys and resellers, but now it’s a value ring as you have to localize, POC, see the value and deliver IoT as a service. If you don’t have the right and full-fledged marketplace or system, then the service cannot be delivered effectively. 

The market is small in Taiwan for such a business model; English speaking is a problem in China. India is the toughest market in the world as they demand very high specs and very low price. But if we can sell in India, we can replicate the success in other countries. We now have sub countries ready – Indonesia, Taiwan, and we will expand to Philippines, Australia and the UK.  We are ahead of the time in terms of our business model; but we need to accelerate our reach across verticals and across countries.  

... Channel Partners should have robust online platforms to enhance the relationship with the customer and that forms the core of GCR that offers business transformation solutions from technology vendors across the globe.
Tony Tsao
Founder and Chairman, GCR

What is the real value proposition of GCR to channel partners and their customers? Are you an aggregator of technologies? 

In the traditional past, it was a set format of distributor, reseller, and systems integrator. With digital technologies to the fore, we talk about community, consultant, content provider – which are also channel for us. GCR provides that marketplace or platform to facilitate the interaction between vendors and channels from logistics, digital marketing, knowledge sharing, helping them develop solutions, RMA service etc. as one-stop shop to enable channel companies to become services companies.

Channels will continue the old way of relationship and sell some products of the big companies. For channels to become more services company, they need to start understanding the company and the vertical and do ground work. Then they can become specialist partner or vendor to them. Traditional channel companies want to help their customer organizations migrate to the cloud channel to the virtual channel. In the past, there were challenges to provide cloud platform to these channels as they are used to ‘buy and sell’ relationship with vendors. In contrast, when we talk to ‘born in the cloud’ or new channels, they welcome our value proposition more. 

GCR’s value lies in providing the platform or the marketplace for both vendor and helping them to distribute. But we need to emphasize more on our service offerings, and also knowledge sharing is very important. We need to train our channels regularly especially on new products, and also share use cases with our end users. Like how can AI can apply in retail or how block chain is important for banks etcetera.

How has been your experience as an entrepreneur versus the two decade plus work experience at networking giant D-Link? Any key learnings?  

Technology is evolving so fast that it’s like you need to have antennae on your head to anticipate the next big trend. It’s not much about R&D but it’s more about practical use of particular technology to user and how can channels deliver the same in the best, affordable manner. Otherwise IoT becomes ‘I only Talk’, than delivering value of connected things on internet. 

You need funding for the venture to prove the business model is working and we do have a few big investors behind us.  

We are working to make a success in India market faster and then replicate it worldwide (with customization to our model if needed as per the country).

Localization of the content, customization of solutions and hiring of talented people are crucial for a company like GCR. IT Entrepreneur must have enough and more knowledge on Cloud computing, edge computing, AI, IoT to name a few. 

We are sort of an Internet plus company as we need to have online platform to help offline partners or people to expertise or increase the productivity to deliver service. We need to offer different service to the consultant, content service provider so that value ring can be localized and delivered to the end customer. We are helping channels increase their productivity and business by offering end-to-end solutions package complete with knowledge sharing, trainings, and digital marketing through our B2B marketplace.

 

My 7 Big Tech Trends : Tony Tsao

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Artificial Intelligence

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Block chain

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Edge Computing

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Information Security

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Internet of Things

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Integration of hardware & software

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Mobility and 5G

What’s the target market for GCR and its business partners globally? Is it mid-market or big enterprise customers? 

GCR is primarily targeting the market’s long tail that is SMB segment. We do work with big customers with long tail, like those that have 2000 branches or big banks with 1000 branches. It’s not a one-time deal for these customers, but individual projects across their distributed offices of branches. 

GCR is also engaged with project run rate business through big systems integrators. Especially SIs that are vertical specific as we can help them with the solutions and related activities. We work with ISVs to help them product test and develop new products for the end users.

We also work with distributors and regional distributors for hardware products which is fulfilled by channels.  We are also participating in some smart city projects in India and we are also working with smart city providers in China. 

The original idea is to sell the products and solutions as Opex wherein the end customer pays as subscription. In short term however for fulfilling run rate business, it is more capex; but opex will become popular over time. 

Could you highlight your key priorities for 2018 and 2019 at GCR; and your professional and personal goals?

The key priority at GCR is to localize the deals as per the country and globalize the platform across geographies. From India, we are now targeting Indonesia, Australia and other English speaking countries, where the content and related activities can be easily globalized.

We need to do more of advanced omni-channel digital marketing for vendors and their channel partners for multiple and extended reach. 

We need to track record the experience on our B2B platform to have a feedback of our customers. Datacenter is evolving fast as we now utilize the hosting cloud service company in Singapore in more capacity as cloud becomes prevalent.

My professional goal is to accelerate our growth step by step as an ambitious company as I believe in the Chinese saying of ‘Crossing the river by feeling the stones’. We want to succeed in India as hub market first, and then explore the huge potential in IT world across the globe. 

Peace and health are my personal goals.