Antoine Harb, Team Leader Middle East, and North Africa at Kingston Technology, speaks about the learnings from 2020 and his plans for 2021

How was 2020 for the industry and your company?
Working from home was a big hurdle for all Industries. As millions of professionals adjust to the new normal of working remotely, staff and supervisors have had to learn quickly how to improve communication and collaboration in a virtual setting.

IT Departments had to overhaul strategies overnight to allow working from home, followed by education on security to ensure that data remains safe. This naturally led to an increased number of people gaining a better understanding of their own technology followed by a greater personal interest in reliability, speed, and safety. Kingston is able to play a part in this by helping with that education.

What sort of opportunities did 2020 bring along?
As near to everyone, across all industries had to adjust to Working- From-Home (WFH) we noted an increased interest in the education of employees on topics such as Cyber Security and how to keep data safe when it is leaving the office/work premises.

Next to this accelerated educational interest, Kingston Technology has experienced an increase in the demand for Laptop DRAM and SSD’s, as both adults and children had to adapt to the new normal of working from home and homeschooling.

We further noticed a higher E-tailer demand, due to the movement restrictions and lockdown. As a result of larger numbers of people spending most of their time at home, we also saw an increased demand for our gaming products, such as the HyperX DRAM and NVMe SSD’s.

Did you face any challenges in 2020?
Of course, also Kingston Technology faced challenges due to the pandemic, as no one could have predicted the scale of it while we were writing our business forecast for 2020, and just like every other business we had to adapt to Working-From-Home and virtual communication.

The main challenge as a global company, however, was to deliver the objectives and plans that were set at the beginning of the year with Kingston Technology’s partners, as most industries will know many marketing activities were postponed, and travel and events were canceled. Not having a face to face meetings with partners was a further setback, as Kingston is a company that works and thrives on relationships.

What were your key achievements in 2020?
At Kingston Technology we were able to adapt quickly to the situation and to maintain a high level of services and support to Kingston’s partners and customers. Our wide product range further enabled Kingston to find its stronghold in the new demand for WFH equipment including DRAM products or the increased demand for SSD.

More important though is the support and education Kingston Technology is offering to ensure that not only the equipment is available, but our customers are thinking about their data security.

What promises does 2021 bring along?
First of all, we hope for it to bring more normalcy, certainty, and safety for everyone. We further believe, that working from home will continue after the pandemic as we can already see, that employees are actively requesting WFH to be part of their new jobs and companies can see the efficiency gained from reducing commuting time.

Due to this change and fewer investments in commutes and business travel, Analysts such as Gartner are predicting, that the worldwide IT budgets are going to grow by 4% in 2021. These are obviously very promising predictions for most technology companies but next to equipping our customers with the top of the range technology solutions, Kingston especially wants to raise awareness about data security and how encrypted solutions can help with it.

Do you see opportunities in the regional markets with new markets opening up?
Yes, we have already experienced a big growth of E-tailer’s and we believe that more opportunities will come as many people are getting more dependent and familiar with online shopping.

This will also have a long-term effect on stores and resellers as they are in need of fully developed online shops in order to survive this difficult time.

According to you, which technologies will be in demand in 2021?
With WFH probably still being a big part of our life for a while as businesses are rethinking their office set-ups and many potentially downsizing their office space and introducing part time WFH as part of their long-term solution, we expect to see healthy demand for SSD, DRAM, and encrypted devices.

The lasting transition from city center offices to a hybrid solution of WFH and days in the office also comes with an even greater need for connectivity. Never has the need for a quicker further spread connectivity solutions such as 5G been higher. This potential acceleration of 5G will also require a great need for data centers.

What will be your key focus areas for 2021? 
We will address two focus areas in 2021. Firstly, Kingston Technology will be addressing the demand for higher capacities SSDs coupled with the demand for higher performance drives. There will also be a strong focus on the demand for DRAM in both the consumer and B to B markets and particularly the Data Center space.

What milestones have you set for 2021?
Our goals for 2021 are to maintain our focus, build product awareness use sales momentum and to support and stay close to our strategic customers, while at the same time raising awareness on Data Security and encrypted devices.

What would you like to do differently in 2021, when compared with 2020?
2020 was a difficult year for most industries and individuals. For us at Kingston, it is our priority to stay close to our partners and customers and hope that we might be lucky enough to be re-scheduling face to face meetings in 2021.

Do you plan to enter new markets or add new products/applications to your portfolio in 2021? 
Kingston will continue to develop and enter new markets in the African continent. It has been a focus in 2020 and we will continue that thrive in 2021.

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