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Citrix holds high hopes for Brazil

The company expects a threefold increase in sales for 2018; devises plan to boost cloud-focused training for resellers.

Citrix will ramp up channel training in Brazil to support its goal to achieve threefold growth in local sales in 2018.

The company's current bullish moment in Brazil follows a slowdown that lasted for nearly three years, according to country director at Citrix Brazil, Luis Banhara.

Currently, the firm's operation in the country performs well, especially when compared with more mature markets - annual revenue growth sits at 20-22 percent, versus the expansion rate of 16-18 percent seen in the United States.

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"We have gone through many ups and downs in Brazil since we began operations here 17 years ago, but even in the toughest moments we have never reconsidered our commitment to our local clients and we are here to stay," Banhara told ZDNet.

According to the executive, Citrix's desktop and application virtualization offering continues to lead sales in Brazil, with the Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) product seeing the fastest growth rate in 2017.

This, says Banhara, is due to the positive productivity impact of the product at organizations with multiple branches, agencies or stores.

"We believe that in 2018 [SD-WAN] will grow even more as the local economy improves," he adds.

Adapting to local realities

Product launches in Brazil follow Citrix's global plan, despite the adoption lag of about 18 months in relation to more developed markets. However, the company has had to adapt its offerings to local realities.

"Whereas the conversation with clients elsewhere in the world was about reliability and security, over the last two to three years Brazilian clients were mostly focused on cost reduction," Banhara says.

The second half of 2017 has seen conversations with local user organizations - particularly in retail, healthcare and financial services - shifting from being predominantly about cost reduction to what can be done to support a return to growth, Banhara points out.

"Those wall-to-wall projects that had been put in the back burner in 2014 are now being discussed again. Organizations could no longer wait for consumer spending to go up and only then act on it," he adds.

"Clearly clients still have to fight for budgets and cost will always be an important consideration, but conversations are no longer about small, departmental projects or improvements here and there."

Ramping up training

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Citrix's goals for increased business in Brazil - predominantly from cloud-based products - mean the company will ask a lot more from its 150 channel partners throughout Brazil.

Despite remaining close to its clients, Citrix only does business through its reseller channel to ensure client demands across Brazil's large territory are met. These partners, according to Banhara, are having to absorb a great deal of change around new business and technology models demanded by clients.

"Clients are asking to migrate to the cloud, which is a departure to on-premise products that many have been used to selling. There is an adoption curve from our clients' side but the same applies to the channel side," the executive says.

"Some [channel partners] "get" cloud, but there are some laggards who will get left behind. That's life." In order to better prepare the channel to focus on cloud products, Banhara says.

The company will boost its training efforts in Brazil - in line with related initiatives to be announced at the Citrix Partner Summit in January 8. According to Banhara, delivering training - especially for channel representatives based far from the company's Brazil head office in São Paulo - has been challenging at times, due to cultural reasons.

"Something particular to Latin America is that there is a lack of discipline for webinars and distance learning in general. That's because people do much better in face-to-face training, they want the personal contact,"Banhara says.

The company has already been working on ways to mitigate these issues, such as making training more interactive and offering incentives. In addition, it is making increased use of its own remote monitoring tools to ensure training is being done.

Future plans

In a year's time, Banhara hopes that he will be able to report a significant increase in cloud conversion numbers as well as getting clients to keep updating their products.

"What we see is [user organizations] talking about new companies offering supposedly new services, but by talking to to them on more detail we find that they haven't quite got what they needed because they haven't updated their product and didn't get the latest updated features that meet their needs," he says.

Channel preparedness is key to avoiding those sorts of situations, but Banhara does not want to rely on that alone. In addition to training, Citrix is hiring professionals who will act as champions of the company's latest offerings and will be working closely with resellers.

"We need the channel to spread the word about the new things we do that could help them achieve their business objectives, without making them feel it's complex," he says.

Despite the challenges ahead, Banhara is optimistic about achieving his growth objectives.

"Our multi-cloud strategy resonated very well with our customers. All sales incentives will be cloud-focused next year and we will also be reinforcing alliances, the Microsoft partnership being the main example," the executive adds.

"We are very confident about business in Brazil and it's great to see big clients with very large problems saying that we are a key part of the solution. That's the current moment for us, it's all really exciting."

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