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Westcon-Comstor introduces new strategy to drive African ambitions

Westcon-Comstor introduces new strategy to drive African ambitions

Westcon-Comstor CEO of Sub-Saharan Africa Rakesh Parbhoo says the company has undergone a strategic restructure that includes integration of its African businesses for a more streamlined go-to-market strategy for the region.

Within this, Westcon-Comstor considers unpacking and bundling offerings across its key business units: Unified Communication and Collaboration (UCC), Security, Software and Mobility, as central to its broader Africa strategy.

The Group's structure has undergone significant change, primarily as a result of a deal struck in June 2017 between the distributor's holding company Datatec and business process services firm Synnex.

Datatec entered into a definitive agreement to dispose of its Westcon-Comstor business in North America and Latin America (Westcon-Americas) to Synnex for a maximum consideration of US$800 million and to sell 10% of the remaining part of Westcon (Westcon International) to Synnex for US$30 million.

"The result of that literally changed the overall structure of Westcon-Comstor, so everything else (Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific) became Westcon International. Datatec, the holding company has a stake in Synnex and Synnex has a stake in Westcon International," said Parbhoo.

The global side of the business had been changed and the implications of this needed to be aligned with the structure of Westcon Sub-Saharan Africa.

In August 2017 Parbhoo was asked to take responsibility across Sub-Saharan Africa, drawing on his decade of experience in emerging markets outside of South Africa as part of one role.

This meant overseeing the autonomous operations of the Westcon-Comstor Africa and Westcon-Comstor Southern Africa businesses.

"We started to look at the opportunities to bring the two businesses together into one operation. We spent a lot of time towards the latter part of last year looking at which vendors we support, which customers we support across the region ... (and) where the opportunities to align the business were," Parbhoo added.

Having secured approval from the Group's board and shareholders, the company followed through with the process to combine regions.

Westcon-Comstor Sub-Saharan Africa region includes all territories except North Africa, and is driven through offices/ hubs in French-West Africa (Senegal), English-West Africa (Nigeria), East Africa (Kenya), Indian Ocean Islands (Mauritius), as well as Angola, Namibia and South Africa.

"We have traditionally driven a significant portion of our focus in the Comstor line of business in each of these regions and are continuing to invest in this area through a deeper focus on architecture offerings," he said.

Creating a stronghold through bundling

The Westcon side of the company is responsible for- and manages four key business line categories including UCC, Microsoft, Security and Mobility.

All four lines are holding their own and are very active in the various markets, Parbhoo confirmed that the business unit leaders within Westcon Southern Africa would now expand their focus and take accountability across Sub-Saharan Africa.

In the UCC unit, Rentia Booysen was recently appointed as the business unit manager to oversee strategic planning, development and implementation of sales and marketing plans, as well as manage vendor and partner relationships for the UCC unit within Westcon.

"It is actually very evenly split in the Westcon business ... but the largest number of our vendors sit in the UCC space. The UCC space is quite a lot more complex to manage because of the number of different offerings we have in that space, across the number of traditional UC vendors as well as complimentary vendors that we have across the region," said Parbhoo.

UCC adoption is also driven by the integration of solutions with legacy systems as part of digital transformation. The company is bundling UCC technologies, including video conferencing with other parts of the business such as software, to help companies streamline operations.

This has allowed it to align previously siloed areas of the business with each other. The company's first bundled solution builds on the Microsoft-based UC infrastructure and several complimentary partners, including Audiocodes, Jabra and Polycom.

"We are also investing significantly in our portfolio around security and mobility across Sub-Saharan Africa as we see greater adoption across the continent for these solutions," Parbhoo continued.

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