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INTERVIEW: Ottmar Knauer, AMD

by Stuart Wilson, Sunday 6 February 2011

Components giant AMD will showcase its channel credentials at DISTREE XXL 2011, using EMEA’s premier go-to-market event as a platform for interaction with partners from across the region. AMD strives to work closely with its partners, bringing to market solutions developed with customer needs, pain points and ambitions in mind and not for the sake of technology alone. Ottmar Knauer, EMEA channel marketing manager at AMD, explains the importance of this ‘customer-centric innovation’ philosophy and the new technology developments that will shape the year ahead.

Channel EMEA (CE): How important are relationships with partners to AMD in EMEA?

Ottmar Knauer (OK): We never underestimate the value of partner collaboration; our close relationships with distributors and resellers are one of our top priorities. We invest heavily in training and support for channel partners, ensuring they are equipped with the right tools and knowledge to market and sell our solutions to best effect.

A key differentiator between AMD and other chip vendors is our brand new offering, the world’s first accelerated processing unit (APU) from AMD. The Fusion APU brings together CPUs and GPUs on a single chip and is set to transform the computing industry. This is the realisation of one of the first true pieces of innovation that the industry has seen for some time and is a genuinely new product in the CPU-GPU space. As such, we believe it will create a wealth of opportunities for the entire channel ecosystem.

CE: What are your three main reasons for attending DISTREE XXL 2011? What do you hope to achieve at the event?

OK: Firstly, the event is a great opportunity to develop, build and enhance our relationships with our European contacts – whether that’s current partners or new ones. This face-time is essential in ensuring they are receiving the best standard of service, while it’s also a chance to gain vital insight into their pain points and needs. We can then build their feedback into future plans.

In terms of the event itself, part of its attraction is the way it’s run and organised – for instance, the online meeting scheduling system is a very efficient, effective way of organising attendees’ time. Holding it at the start of the year means we’re able to use it as an annual ‘kick-off’, laying out our agenda for the next twelve months, and communicating our goals and timelines to partners and customers.”

CE: Which geographic areas and/or channels represent the greatest opportunity for growth for your company in EMEA?

OK: We have opportunities for growth in all areas of our business – from the commercial sector, through to the component channel – but I am particularly excited about the market opportunities presented by the Middle East, Russia and Central Europe.

Focus on linearity

CE: Why should distributors focus on your products? What makes your channel proposition better than competitors in the market?

We have several unique selling points. Firstly, AMD is committed to high standards for all products – to setting, meeting and exceeding them – so we are confident that our partners are offering the best solutions in the market. We are also determined to continue pushing the boundaries of innovation, introducing new products that will drive both progression and profit within the industry.

Secondly, our channel programme offers real financial benefits for partners. Aside from generating more sales opportunities, which has an obvious upside for partners, we also reward partners for shifting more products.

The emphasis of the Fusion partner programme is on linearity, which means that instead of focusing on an end-of-quarter target, our partners measure their sales against more regular check-points. This helps spread credit and incentivise the teams, providing benefits at regular intervals throughout the quarter. The timeline also matches the programmes given to master distributors so there is increased synergy across the board. Overall, they are likely to sell more and get rewarded for doing so.

CE: So what makes the Fusion partner programme stand out from schemes run by other vendors?

OK: Our award winning Fusion partner programme celebrated its first anniversary last September. Launched in 2009, it was designed to provide channel partners with tailored tools, resources and training to help improve knowledge and support sales in line with their unique business models, business sector - whether that’s commercial, consumer or component – and business size. The programme provides customised incentives to help support the sales and marketing process of all AMD solutions – from CPUs, GPUs and chipsets to the new APU.

In 2010, we expanded the reach of the Fusion partner programme to include commercial channel and software partners. The commercial track focuses on partners that resell OEM solutions and systems to the SMB, enterprise and public sectors, while the software partner track provides software companies and developers with technology enablement, development resources and marketing support to help them deliver compelling technology and innovative solutions based on AMD technology.

Channel support

CE: What sort of support do you offer distributors in terms of marketing, promotions and channel development activities?

OK: As part of the Fusion partner programme, AMD provides a wide range of services and support tools for distributors. Acting as a single point of reference for information and resources, the streamlined programme delivers personalised tools and training – both in-person and online – that fit with our partners’ specific business needs. This ensures they have the marketing tools to better position, and therefore sell, AMD solutions, clearly differentiating them from competitor products, and are also given access to lead-generation campaigns to help build their sales pipelines.

CE: What have been the major developments for your company in EMEA in the last year? What do you have planned for full year 2011?

OK: 2010 was very significant for AMD. In terms of product news, we marked our entry into the six core processor market with the launch of our fastest, most powerful processor yet, before ending the year with the launch of our new desktop flagship processor.

Our most exciting development however, was the unveiling of the world’s first APU. By combining the CPU and GPU in a single piece of silicon, AMD Fusion APUs represent an entirely new and unique class of processor that combines the CPU and GPU on a single chip, delivering breakthroughs in visual computing and user interface, security, performance-per-watt and enables appealing new PC form factors.

In conjunction with the launch of the Fusion APU, and as part of our commitment to ensuring channel partners realise the greatest profits from all our solutions, we also introduced the AMD Fusion partner programme portal. The portal will provide one central yet customised location where partners can access virtually everything they need to market and sell AMD products more effectively including training materials, online marketing materials and product and programme information. We enter 2011 in a very strong position, having achieved channel targets for the previous consecutive five quarters.

Lifestyle drivers

CE: What market trends have you identified that are impacting your business at present?

OK: In an industry like the technology sector, which experiences a constant flurry of invention, reinvention and evolution, some might consider it hard to make predictions on where the next opportunities lie, or how we might choose between them. However, we see several emerging market trends.

The way consumers buy technology is changing. To win as an industry, we need to continue to be transparent in communication and focus on the experience consumers receive and the ways technology enhances their lives. The speeds and data capabilities of the products continue to become secondary to what these products enable people to do. Technologies drive lifestyle, meaning that these products must be sold as lifestyle-enhancing too.

Competition remains key. The challenge now is twofold; firstly for each company to continue meeting the needs of its current customers, in the best and most valuable way possible. Secondly, to focus on the combinations of price, performance and value that can best meet the needs of customers 12 or even 24 months down the line.

Innovation is vital for realising sales opportunities, but change must be linked to customer need, customer opportunity and industry progression. With real innovation comes the need to embrace changes ahead of the game. To be fully prepared, business partners will need to work together to identify opportunities, invest resources and create a roadmap of excellence to drive success.

At AMD we forged some amazing business partnerships last year, and made a commitment to work more closely together with ISV and software partners, as well as spending more time than ever focusing on enabling and supporting our channel partners. I see such ‘embedded’ working relationships continuing strongly in 2011, both for us and across the industry.

CE: How would you describe your overall go-to-market approach in the EMEA market? What are your overall channel goals and aims for 2011 in EMEA?

OK: 2011 promises to be one of the most exciting and game-changing times in our history. The launch of our AMD Fusion products in 2011 will represent a landmark event and usher in a new era of computing.

The opportunities this new product offers the channel are extensive. There has been a lot of buzz around Fusion, but in order to maximise the potential the introduction of a combined chip offers, sales strategies will need to adapt. To be fully prepared for this, our whole ecosystem will need to work together to identify opportunities, invest resources and create a roadmap of excellence to embrace changing dynamics and drive success.

Our aim for the year ahead is ensure our channel partners reap the full rewards this new solution offers. Channel support for AMD Fusion was mobilised at the end of 2010 and we’re currently producing a wealth of resources to support our channel partners through the roll out of the new APU, to help them better understand its benefits, the opportunities for cross-sell, and the economics of this changing landscape.


Top distributors, retailers and e-tailers from across the EMEA region are invited to attend DISTREE XXL 2011, the premier event for the regional ICT and CE channel, from February 8-11th in Monaco.

DISTREE XXL gathers senior executives from EMEA’s Information Communications Technologies (ICT) & Consumer Electronics (CE) volume distribution channel.

During the course of the three-day event, delegates take part in thousands of pre-scheduled one-on-one meetings with hundreds of vendors. Each year, hundreds of new distribution agreements are struck across EMEA as a result of business relationships initiated at DISTREE XXL.

DISTREE XXL 2011 will also build on successful initiatives launched at last year’s sold out event including a regional awards ceremony. The ‘EMEA Channel Academy: 2011 Awards’ will include more than a dozen awards handed out to vendors and distributors from across the region. www.distree.com/xxl

Follow the build-up to DISTREE XXL 2011 www.twitter.com/distreexxl

For more information on attending DISTREE XXL 2011 please contact fhemraj@distree.com

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