With 300% growth in the Middle East last year, few would dispute that SAM had a good year. While regional MD Naresh Subherwal admits that this growth is from a relatively low base, it remains a formidable achievement at a time when many broadcast and media technology and services companies are in retreat.
2016 was a transformative year in the Middle East for SAM. Indeed, the company hired Subherwal, who had worked at the company previously, and opened an office in Dubai to service the wider Middle East region.
“I came back on board last year and opened an office in Jumeirah Lake Towers with one person in the region. The brief was very simple: The market was tough but we felt there was an opportunity here to build our proposition.” Just one year on, and Subherwal along with the senior management of the company have been proved right. The Middle East team now numbers nine people, including three senior broadcast executives who are well known in the industry.
“We have a new, fresh sales team that is experienced with strong technical knowledge. We also brought in post-sales support and we have three guys supporting pre-sales,” Subherwal says. “We had 300% growth last year. It is a big number, but is from a low base. The market has been tough and so our gains are from market share. Some of our competitors have been reducing their headcount, while we’re attracting good people and we’re willing to put the investment in.
“We have a strong team now and the structure I wanted. We’re growing and we’re getting the attention of the customers, including some very high profile
customers,” he adds. “Because of the innovation, especially in 4K and IP, and the strength of our portfolio, we’re very strong in live production. We have introduced our LiveTouch Relay systems. We have got a very strong infrastructure portfolio on our routers and multiviewers, infrastructure which gives us a hybrid solution for SDI and IP.”
Subherwal adds that with the backing, support and investment from the SAM, the Middle East unit has been able to deliver results and gain in strength. “Last year was about getting it off the ground and moving and this year is about gaining even more traction and taking more market share.”
The advantage of making these gains during a tougher business climate is that when the market does pick up, SAM will be particularly well place to grow with it.
“That is the beauty of SAM globally; you’ve been to IBC and NAB and seen the big investments we make there.”
Looking at the Middle East market in more depth, SAM has experienced growth “across the board” according to Subherwal. He confirms that the company has been “very active” in Turkey, and has done business across the region from Egypt to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon and the UAE. “We have some very big well established customers in the region,” he says.
On the subject of the seismic technological changes taking place in the broadcast industry, Subhherwal says that with companies looking at 4K, virtualised playout, hybrid IP and 4k production workflows, SAM is ensuring it aligns its philosophy with its clients. “I think this transition to IP is more like the transition from analogue to digital; it’s a major shift in the way customers operate, in the services they buy, their flexibility and the investments they make.
Our strategy as a company is very much aligned to what they’re thinking,” he says.
Subherwal adds that SAM is increasingly taking a hybrid approach, increasing its software and services. “We’re strengthening our service capability, we’re trying to look at and implement more opex models for some of the customers as they move in that direction, and again that satisfies the market.”