Mr. Gerry Edwards is the Marketing Director for Europe, Middle East, Africa and India (EMEAI), Western Digital Corporation.
In this interview with Chinenye Anuforo he discussed his company’s plans for Nigeria and the need for individuals and institutions to opt for data security.
We have been here for three years and we started with very methodical planning to make sure we do it the right way, not to come in to do some deals and go. We set up the infrastructure and the plan to make sure that we are here for the long run and we are investing sustainably, not doing things that are going to be a flash in the pan. We invest in a sustainable way into the future because we see opportunities not just for now but also 10, 15 years from now.
We have built markets in many different places in the world, yes, Nigeria in many ways has more challenges but we have other markets about the same amount of challenges. By investing sustainably in very good quality products in a methodical way, we have always come out on the right side of it. The population of 200 million people in Nigeria, mobile phone growth and penetration is right around 150 million mobile phones, I think 50 per cent of those are smartphones right now, each one of them with a microSD card. Consumers want to expand their capacity within the mobile phones. Even during recession, consumers have the need for more storage in their phones and we know, that is only going to get bigger and bigger as data is the new oil. So, that is going to continue at a consumer level and beyond for the next ten years.
We have long been at the forefront of game changing innovations. From the invention of the first hard drive to recent advancements, our journey of innovation continues to inspire those who dare to think big about the possibilities of data.
Western Digital is enabling a bigger, faster experience in its portfolio with new solutions that give consumers an excellent combination of performance and capacity so they can do more with the rich content they capture. In the Nigerian market, we are setting up and we are here to stay in terms of our investment in the infrastructure and our market.
We came first with our SanDisk brand and the guys in the sales team have set up the infrastructure through distributor and retailers with the aim of making sure that consumers are protected with original products. We have a ‘Buy Original’ programme on SanDisk products which go to markets in Nigeria through our authorised resellers.
We believe in the best technology for consumer flash products from microSD cards, USB drives and OTG drives for mobile phones in the Nigeria market. We believe the technology is best and we believe that the Nigeria market is a great place to invest now and into the future.
First of all, we compete globally with many other brands. We are by far the biggest market shareholder globally with our SanDisk brand for flash micro SD cards. We are a manufacturer of flash memory, one of only five in the world. You see a lot of brands, if they are not manufacturers, they are buying for the market.
This means that we can guarantee the best level of quality at a very competitive price and the consumer gets the best possible products. It is not rocket science, we invested in very good products, in quality ways to go to market over the years and globally; in Nigeria we do exactly the same.
Yes, our SanDisk micro SD card are compatible with all android mobile phones in the market. We have also a USB flash drive which one can plug into an android phone to transfer content between friends or someone you want to share your memories with. We have the cruizer blade USB drive that is compatible with anything with USB slot.
So universally, we are compatible with everything, on the consumer side, we have a solution for everybody.
Our warranty differs per product. For example, on our WD brand, the external hard drive comes with a local Nigeria warranty. The consumer has a level of trust on the product and they know it’s an original product, it is not fake, we have it in the country; this is a locally distributed product, it has an hologram sticker so everyone knows it is genuine product and has a local Nigeria warranty.
Our plan is always to reach all the major cities of Nigeria, so we started in Lagos as you know. We are now in Onitsha, we are in Abuja, and we have started expanding in Ibadan. So, in two to three years we should be covering all the major cities in the country.
In terms of retail outlets, we are supplying directly almost 12,000 stores in the country and we are in at least 3,000 to 4,000 branded stores for SanDisk. We are already in all the 60 stores of Slot, Pointek, and Spar and so on.
Also, in the near future, we want to continue the growth that we doing in a sustainable way. We are going to continue on our SanDisk brand of products, developing our ‘Buy Original’ programme, going to more store fronts and more outlets and we going to concentrate on our branded products and launch them in the same way we did for SanDisk and then grow exactly the same way.
On our devices products, our surveillance which we talked about in the presentation, a very big market and a very large area that is growing in the country is surveillance, so we have a hard drive product which is specifically designed for the surveillance usage model which will continued recording, the cameras are recording all day long. So in that area, that product is something we are going to build also in Nigeria, starting now over the next few years.
Importance of securing data
Your data is very valuable even if it is professional data, through your personal memories and photos of you and your family, how you secure them is very important. On all of our WD products we offer a secure access software which can be used to set up a simple password on all of our hard drives and what we want is for all consumers to have the ability to be able to look after their data on hard drives.
We advise consumers to go to one of our authorised resellers where they would see the SanDisk sign, a ‘Buy Original’ sign and a stand with a ‘Buy Original’ sign, you will then see an original product within that store and that store owner will help to take them through the process. If it is not SanDisk, don’t touch because the brand has to be SanDisk. We have educated our resellers and the market what the SanDisk brand looks like and what are the elements.
Memory card product
We continually innovate, what we have now are the fastest and the biggest; we just launched a one terabyte (1TB) micro SD card, that is something the size of your finger now, it is pure innovation to do that, to have that type of capacity. We also look to the future and work with all the handset manufacturers, with the SD association, and work with all the main computer mechs to see what’s next, what is coming in terms of either removable storage or internal storage or what is needed in a day infrastructure scenario. It therefore leads us to having innovation of consumer level, what we are doing out of the levels of the company as well. So it’s innovation through technology and quality products.