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Interview with Alex Ebeid, Senior Director of Consumer Sales, EMEA at AMD

by jcp
gawdo

Alex Ebeid: Senior Director of Consumer Sales

Alex Ebeid is AMD’s Senior Director of Consumer and SMB PC Sales, EMEA. He’s the person who works with household name OEMs such as HP, Lenovo and Dell, as well as major retailers such as Dixons and MSH – to get AMD-powered devices into the hands of customers. A tech-sector veteran of over two decades, Alex works with AMD’s partners to get the very best results for them and for their customers. We caught up with him to ask about his work, the hectic 2020 he helped the company navigate, and what the future holds.

What are AMD’s priorities for the consumer and SMB sectors in 2021?

We’ve just emerged from a phase in which the big priority was gaining market share. We were working hard to scale up – and we did. It really makes people who may not have considered AMD in the past sit up and take even more notice.

People rely on technology now, more than ever – just to continue working, to keep their kids learning and to stay in touch with their loved ones. That has led to huge extra demand. Our goal has been to work with partners to help them meet this demand, while also helping ensure the best possible experience for everyone involved – including end users. No matter how difficult the times, you must have a relentless focus on the quality of the customer experience.

Looking at the year ahead, I’d say that our priority is to take all that momentum from 2020 and keep building on AMD’s position as a premium brand. It’s not enough, anymore, to talk about the most computing power for the best price. Especially when we’re delivering the most power, full stop. Now we want to showcase how AMD is delivering the best, most advanced technology – and the best experience.

In the consumer segment, what are the biggest differentiators between AMD and its main competitor?

Our latest generation of mobile processors set new standards in performance when they were announced in January. Major performance gains across the product stack mean everyone from gamers to mainstream consumers will find laptops containing AMD processors give them better performance and battery life in thinner and lighter form factors than previous generations.

Has the pandemic changed the market for consumer hardware? What impact has lockdown had and are there other factors which have changed what consumers need from and look for in their IT?

The most obvious change, again, has been the significant increase in demand, particularly for laptop products – but also across the board. This has been driven by so many more people working from home, and by remote learning – that was a really big driver – as well as the general need to stay connected. It’s also important to note the specific demand for higher performance. So much of people’s lives is digital now, they want everything to be quick, smooth and trouble free. The market exploded during the pandemic as people invested in technology as an essential tool to adapt to restrictions.

Our growth in the premium market also speaks to huge demand in the gaming and entertainment category. Devices that can do everything from work to play were in very high demand, which is no surprise as so much of our lives has been online.

Across AMD’s product lines and segments — CPUs and GPUs — what are the long-term trends transforming the industry and what will their impact be?

As well as increased consumer demand for higher performance, how people buy has totally flipped during the pandemic. People are now buying online more than they used to, and I think they are buying more laptops and notebooks too.

This has big implications for how we best support our partners. For example, we’ve shifted our marketing primarily to online campaigns, designed to drive awareness and traffic for our partners. While we’re doing that, we’ve been busy working with journalists, sending out samples and getting the message out – to help ensure the market is aware of everything AMD has to offer. Helping this to cut through will be an ongoing challenge in 2021.

How has AMD adapted its approach to better serve its customers in light of both the immediate challenges of COVID-inspired digital transformation and of these long-term trends?

We’ve embraced our role as category leader, without losing our mindset of always striving, challenging for our place in the market – and earning our sales volumes, every single day. We’re still doing all this, but given the progress we’ve made, from both a technological and commercial perspective, we’re now having much more longer-term discussions with our partners. Instead of planning quarter to quarter, we’re planning at least a year ahead. This in turn means we can work more closely with OEMs to understand how to support them in the most flexible, intelligent ways that meet their immediate and long-term business objectives.

How has AMD factored customer priorities into the way it works with key partners such as OEMs and the channel?

We’re cooperating much more closely across different channels like advertising, PR and social media, to better support our OEM and channel partners. One of our goals now is to be digital first, and to be the most effective in the market at getting the message to consumers. That means tailoring everything from the messaging itself, to how we’re helping to direct traffic to partner websites. We’ve already heard from our channel partners that this was something they needed from us, and that it’s making a big difference.

What is AMD’s strategy for pushing the adoption of its consumer technologies?

Our strategy is to enable. The demand for the technology is already there. Our next job is to make sure the customers get the right PC and the right technology for their specific needs. Doing that drives shorter-term conversions but also, because the customer experience becomes better, longer-term customer loyalty to AMD and our partners.

What steps are you taking to strengthen relationships with channel partners and integrators?

AMD is working more closely with partners across the entire sales and customer journey. We have improved lines of communication with our retail partners, enabling us to see trends faster, as they develop. Such as which segments are growing here, or shrinking there; what devices do we have, or are we developing, that will meet growing demand for a given specification or capability. With this kind of data, we can work with OEMs to help develop devices that meet their dynamically shifting, unique patterns of demand.

For customers who have switched from a competitor product to AMD in the past, what strategies worked from an AMD, OEM or channel partner perspective?

The first thing to note, is that people are definitely switching to AMD. Last year we grew our European business significantly and this simply couldn’t happen if people weren’t switching. To achieve this growth, we’re working side by side with OEMs and partners to deliver what customers want. So, it’s time to climb aboard the AMD train, if you’re not on already!

Are there any EMEA brand names or customers’ names to show as an example of companies or organisations adopting AMD solutions?

We’re working closely with the largest electronics retailers in Europe with the shared goal of growing their consumer offerings to give customers access to the best performing devices available to buy. We also won the Euronics 2020 IT Supplier of the Year, and we’ll see a lot more collaboration with them in the future. Dixons Group is another vitally important partner for AMD across Northern Europe.

Can you tell us anything about the roadmaps for AMD’s desktop and laptop CPUs and for its GPUs? What should the market be looking out for over the next year?

We’ve already announced the latest AMD Ryzen 5000 Series CPUs and Radeon RX 6000 GPUs. We’ll be bringing systems to the market that bring together the very vest of AMD technology across processing, graphics and software that deliver the AAA experiences in gaming and content creation that our customers are looking for.

To what extent does OEM feedback play a role in the development of AMD products?

AMD works incredibly closely with its partners to understand the state of the market – and their needs in relation to that. For example, at the moment we’re running a programme which involves us collating and reading product reviews from around the world. We’re not just looking at the number of stars each product gets – we’re also reading and assimilating the qualitative feedback and sentiment, about the finer details. What specifically customers do and don’t like? And how do those things break down when it comes to those factors we can control, or at least influence? As in, we can directly control CPU and GPU performance and efficiency, while things like screen quality and overall battery life are much more subject to the platform choices made by the OEMs. This is all useful data we can share with our partners, for their consideration.

How did the challenges differ across markets in 2020 and how difficult is it to get the right strategy for all markets in the age of COVID-19?

The big difference has been in how ready OEMs and retailers were to take so much of their business online. In some markets like the UK, digital channels were already well developed. It wasn’t easy for anyone, but it was certainly smoother for organisations that had already undertaken significant digital transformation. Another big differentiator was how well some retailers and markets were able to help consumers understand what they’re buying, what they need – and how they approached cross promotion. It’s easier to cross promote products when you have a salesperson in the shop with the customer. Doing it online, in a way that genuinely helps the customer – that’s a lot trickier.

What surprised you the most, or was the most interesting thing you’ve learned, during the last year?

I was very impressed to see how I’m surrounded by great, resilient people. That was the most interesting thing, too. We’ve all had our own personal challenges, but the way the team has pulled together like a family, and worked so hard to support each other, it’s meant we’ve had no issues adapting.

What are you most proud of, from you and your colleagues work over the last 6-12 months?

In 2020 we won AMD Consumer Team of the Year, internally, which was great. Externally, we won the Euronics 2020 IT Supplier of the Year Award, that was a first for us and something we’re really proud of. Obviously, the market gains have been a source of great team pride and satisfaction. But I think, to return to a theme we touched on in the previous answer, the way in which everyone in the team helped each other out, I’m really proud of that.

What are you most excited about, that lies ahead in the next 12 months?

Going on holiday again when lockdown finally ends! Seriously, I’m super excited about the new laptops we’ll be bringing to the market this year, as OEMs are truly pushing into new territory in terms of performance and design to get the best from AMD technology. I also look forward to the intense competition in our marketplace – we grew significantly last year but we’re not losing any of the relentless fighting spirit that helped us get here.

If there is one thing that you want people to know or remember about AMD in 2020-21, what is it?

AMD technology is powering millions of devices around the world, to enrich peoples’ digital lives, whether they’re gaming, working or learning from home.

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