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The entire way of working and using PCs has actually changed. Chromebook is specially designed for multi-function – Dinesh Sharma, Asus India, Full Interview

Dinesh Sharma, Business Head, Commercial PC, and Smartphone, System Business Group
Dinesh Sharma, Business Head, Commercial PC, and Smartphone, System Business Group

Taiwanese tech major ASUS decides to make a major foray into the Commercial PC segment. Asus India is already a leading player in the Consumer PC segment with a 15% Market Share in Q1 2020. Asus is a highly backward integrated player in the PC industry with a unique distinction of being the Global Leader in Mother Boards and High tech Gaming PCs. ASUS ranks No. 1 in consumer notebook brand in Asia-Pacific and No. 3 in worldwide sales. The company aims to deliver its cutting-edge technology and innovation to Business customers in India. Asus is setting up a very robust Commercial Business sales and service infrastructure.  The company has more than 17,000 employees, including 5000 world-class R&D teams.

Dinesh Sharma, Business Head, Commercial PC, and Smartphone, System Business Group recently talked to Team IT-Voice where he answered questions related to the newly launched Chromebook Series, marketing strategies, and other related subjects. Here is the detailed interaction:

Prateek: Tell us more about the vision behind the latest Chromebook laptops.

In the past year, the entire way of working and using PCs has actually changed. Before the pandemic, we used to have just one PC for all-purpose.  It was used sparingly like over the weekend for some personal work, for data backup, or doing holiday planning. However, post-pandemic the usage of PCs has changed. The PC has become like a smartphone and everybody now needs one PC for themselves, whether it’s a child, parent, or an elderly person. Children specifically feel the need for their personal PCs for school education because they need to access their online classes.

Usages have also changed. Consumers are now not only using PCs for very high-end business-oriented applications. People are using PC essentially for accessing Zoom Calls, attending classes, browsing, watching online content apart from using it for official purposes like word, PowerPoint, and joint projects. These functions are quite different from traditional use cases which are deployed in the enterprise environment.  The fast intuitive simple-to-use and secure PCs at affordable prices cater to this set of consumers.

More than 95% of us use an android smartphone. If a PC is similar to an android smartphone and syncs easily, the migration will be seamless. Children are one of the big segments of users, we have created C214 which is specially designed for them. It is built with durability and resilience, even if it slips from their hands, it can survive the fall. C214 has dual cameras and it can be used as a tablet. Its user-friendly features gave us the courage of bringing the whole Chromebook range at affordable price points.

Prateek: How these commercial products are helping in enhancing efficiency, data security, and seamless communication?

When we got into the commercial segment, we brought our strength of innovation from the PC industry and skill which lies in making high-quality products. The core lies in power efficiency, performance, thermals, and innovative convenience-led features. Given the kind of trust and reputation attached with ASUS, we just had to lay the fundamentals for the enterprise business.   The important part was putting in place robust service support required for the enterprise customer and gaining the trust of marquee companies in India. The trust was reflected in the form of multiple repeat orders that we have received from them. It gives us immense satisfaction that we are on that right track and laying the apt fundamentals in this particular business.

Prateek: Talking about the Indian market which is quite diversified, how would be the company’s strategy to distinguish and grow in such a market where there are multiple users, there are corporate users and there are home users and students as well?

ASUS works with a strategy of design thinking with the vision of our chairman, Mr. Jonney Shih. Design thinking combined with the knowledge of R&D in design, technology leads to product solutions that meet the needs of specific consumer segments.  Each and every segment is studied extremely well, take an example of a product that I was talking about earlier ‘The Chromebook C214.’ The very fact that children have chances of spilling liquids on the product, or can accidentally drop the product, made us design a product that is robust.  Here design thinking comes to play because we are thinking from a kid’s perspective and then designing a product. From a school perspective, the product is easily dismountable. Components of the product can be changed easily as compared to a standard laptop plus it comes with a 50 watt/hour battery which once charged have enough battery life to sustain during school hours. It weighs 1.2 kilograms which is easy for a child to carry, comes with rubber clips, rubber sides, and hence the surface is easy to grip.  ASUS is applying design thinking to every single segment.  Apart from that, we strive for support from our channel partners. Our ethics and integrity with the channel partners are appreciated by them and that gives us good support to reach the consumer.  I would like to appreciate our friends and tech community who’ve supported us to carry our message to the consumers and educate them about ASUS. The reviews and feedback have really helped us to reach out to the end consumers.

Prateek: Talking about the changes in the dynamics in the work culture lately, the recent changes involve new requirements of people and corporates for corporate users and for personal users, has ASUS developed any products focusing on such requirements?  

The ExpertBook range that we developed was developed keeping in mind the latest set of users.       Organizations today employ 70% of millennials and Gen Z, this generation demands flexibility.  They are well aware of the kind of capabilities hardware and software bring to them, so they are very conscious of the kind of tech which is being provided to them.

The whole ethos of the ASUS ExpertBook series is all about the ‘Your vision, Our passion’ which means whatever be your vision, whether you are a CEO of a company or whether you are an entry-level management trainee, it’s our passion to provide you with the right kind of product services, solutions which can help you achieve your vision.  We have worked to meet the needs of this consumer workforce which demands flexibility and innovation. Flexibility is really important, one might need a laptop, desktop, workstation, or all-in-one.  We provide all types of form factors. Powered by expandability, capability to use either a hard disk or an SSD.

For the enterprise segment, we also do systemized machines. If a company wants a customized specification, which is made-to-order, we do that. Another important aspect is durability, our ASUS ExpertBook series goes through a lot of testing rigor. They have military standard compliance and high security. We have got multiple layers of security, so all the products that are meant for mid-end and large-end enterprises come with dTPM and vPro.

The last important aspect is the service. We strive to give best-in-class.  We have ramped up our entire service team. Made for India is the core of our design thinking philosophy. In that endeavor, we have ensured that all our products come with spillproof keyboards because in India humidity levels are pretty high. In all the products which especially cater to medium and large enterprises, we keep HD cameras at default because work-from-home is a critical need. ASUS has also given an option to go for a backlit keyboard because they come with a host of innovative features which differentiate us from the rest of the competition.

Prateek: With so many products in the market and recently launched also, tell me about the after-sales service approach and will the number of service centers go up in near future?

After-sales service, there are a couple of things; number one is we have got 220 plus service centers in India and if you do a comparison it is one of the highest numbers of service centers that are there with IT companies. We are covering a large breadth of the country.  As of now, we are not facing any challenge in terms of coverage areas that might have calls that we are not being able to cover.  In any case for the outliers, we have also had a pickup and drop service. We have a call center specifically for the commercial business which is operational from Monday to Saturday morning 9 AM to 9 PM. It is available to all segments of customers whether you are a small enterprise or medium. It has one of the highest longest times that a call center is available specifically for commercial customers to call upon for any brand.  Then one thing that we did with the ExpertBook Series, when it was launched in September-October, we ensured that before coming up to the market, with the products and enterprise, we focused on the service part because that’s very critical. Therefore, we ensured that there was a dedicated call center.  We have also ensured that the entire range of packs that are acquired by the enterprise customers are put into place.  For example, we have NBD (Next Business Day) service pack, we have a warranty extension pack for up to 5 years.  We have an accidental damage protection pack for up to 5 years.  We have a battery warranty extension pack for up to 5 years.  We also have HDD retention or storage retention pack up to 5 years on the laptops. So when an enterprise customer comes and they want to buy an ASUS product, they have the entire gamut of this solution available on the service site so they don’t have to worry that anybody can offer what ASUS can’t. Additionally, we offer an international warranty on our commercial products which is also very important for enterprise customers, something that a lot of brands don’t do and they charge extra so that’s also something really cool for the enterprise customers that we provide.

Prateek: Have been any significant changes in the market share of ASUS in the past 6 months and what will be the company’s extension plans in the near future?

I think in market shares; ASUS has been one of the fastest-growing brands.  We have been one of the fastest-growing brands in India in 2020. Probably, the fastest growing brand in India in 2020.  This can give you the aspect of the kind of growth that we are witnessing.  Even in this year in the first half, we have grown with a very high double-digit growth rate despite the challenges faced by the IT industry on supplies and component shortages, etc. We have prioritized the Indian market, we have kind of maximized our allocation and that’s how we have achieved such a high double-digit growth rate, because had we not given disproportionate attention to India, which is considered as a home market we would not have been able to grow to this extent.  Definitely, we have grown very rapidly in the first half of this year also. Plus, we have got into new segments and we are doing the creation of new segments in the industry like Chromebooks. We have got very, very robust plans and we are very strongly committed to the Indian market and we want to be the most loved brand and most preferred brand by all our consumers across all segments.

Prateek: What will be the company’s strategy on basis of priority offline or online mode of sales? Will there be a balance between both of them?

Yes, both.  At the end of the day, we have a presence in a large number of retail outlets in India, we are opening up our own branded retail also, and it can be ASUS stores or ROG stores. We are strongly committed to our channel partners offline as well.  So definitely it is both.

For any such interaction opportunities, you may write to us at pr@itvoice.in.

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