Pioneering efforts


Based in Brussels (Belgium) and with many offices in the MENA region, Harco Group are specialists in Digital Surveillance and the Distributors in the Middle East and North Africa of leading brands in the Video Security and Surveillance. Roger R. GHOSTINE, Managing Director, MENA – Harco Group discusses some aspects of the pioneering role the company has played in the region’s surveillance segment.

Discuss how the company established its forte in IP security solutions?
One of the major differences between Harco and others is that from the moment we started focusing on the MEA market back in 2002, we always focused on IP security solutions. Analog security solutions was never a focus for the region. While there were no IP camera then to start with, there were IP encoders and DVRs. It was not until 2007-2008 that other distribution companies came focused on IP security.
We were a pioneer, on the positive side of things. However, since IP was nascent, there were bugs in the early technologies. That is one of the challenges we faced as customers were not confident about IP based security.
A few years later, by the time other distributors were getting into the IP security market, we had a clear advantage because of the head-start we had taken. So by 2006-2007 when IP security was beginning to gain wider acceptance, we were already quite an established leader in the region.
One of the challenges in the early years of IP security solutions is that vendors were providing only some part of the solution. There were no one-stop solution vendors back then In IP security. While one vendor may have had the storage part, another offered only cameras and still another the software etc. there was no single point of accountability as far as solution was concerned which is where Harco came in. We designed the turnkey end to end solutions. We made sure of providing a workable solution for the end user through our partners, up to their expectations which helped us consolidate our presence in this region as one of the formidable players in the IP security and surveillance segment.

What is the differentiation you offer as a distributor?
One of the differentiators of Harco is that we are not a regular distributor who is just moving boxes. We are consultants and solution providers for our partners. We are a Belgium based company and when we decided to enter this region, we were certain that we will bring in differentiators in our strategy. We were participating in educating the market in term of new technology trends.
Our go to market strategy was three pronged. One the three key pillars of our strategy was that we decided to focus only on high end and non-competitive products, with no compromise in terms of quality or price.
The second key aspect of our strategy was that we focused on people with technical expertise. And it is not possible that we can be knowledgeable experts across a very wide spectrum and therefore restricted attention to key brands and products. That enables our team of salespeople to have the focus and knowledge to be consultants.
And third, within our go to market execution, we make sure all concerned stakeholders, the consultants, systems integrators and end users, are in sync and working closely- in enabling the required knowledge transfer. Our technical people can demonstrate the solutions to customers with the demo units they typically carry. This approach helped them convince customers that there was a lot of substance to what they had said. This helped Harco in the earlier years of IP security solutions generate a lot of Business.

Do you see many traditional IT focused integrators focusing more in the surveillance segment?
In the earlier years, the integrators in surveillance solutions were mostly companies that were from the physical security industry. Over time, many companies from IT industry came in for the simple reason that IP surveillance solutions required the same servers, networks and storage components that they were already dealing with for enabling other applications. However, with surveillance deployments, the requirements of these components was a multiple of several times over the need seen for regular applications and hence provided a great opportunity for IT integrators. They therefore ended up selling more storage, servers and networking as IP surveillance consumers more bandwidth. Many of them therefore made the shift and have become our partners in this industry.

Discuss your consolidation in terms of vendor association?
In the first 13 years, Harco has added six brands to our offering. In the past 8 months, we have added six more vendors. So you can imagine the new focus in our approach. We are distributors for brands such as Arecont Vision, Exacq Technologies, Raytec, Nexsan Storage, Verint Video Solutions, Theia, ACIC, Riva, Veracity, Protec, etc. We have a wide channel of over 200 system integrators and client base across the region including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, etc. We are happy to have signed up with Seagate, a leader in storage solutions. In the past 24 months, we have been able to consolidate our thirteen years of our experience.