Huawei faces brand awareness challenge in Asia

South Pacific customers still show low awareness and understanding of company's business, say execs, one of whom expresses confidence enterprise sales in 2012 can grow 80 percent to 90 percent over 2011.

SINGAPORE--Brand awareness among customers in the consumer and enterprise space has been cited as the primary challenge, and focus, for Huawei Technologies to tackle in 2012, as the Chinese telecom equipment company continues to restructure its business and move away from its core telecommunications base.

Zhou Bin, the newly-appointed managing director of Huawei Singapore, said during a media briefing held here Friday that while Huawei had done well as a business-to-business (B2B) telecoms equipment vendor since its inception 25 years ago, it still needed to work on being more recognized in the wider IT industry.

"Brand awareness, particularly in the business-to-consumer (B2C) space, is still the main challenge but we are actively working on this," Zhou  stated. "You'll probably see many more Huawei logos around very soon."

Similarly, Heng Song-Cheng, Huawei's director of enterprise solutions and marketing for South Pacific enterprise business, told ZDNet Asia establishing its brand and trust among companies was difficult because the understanding and knowledge of Huawei's business portfolio was "still low" among the business community.

This was particularly so for the South Pacific region, which Heng noted include Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Australia and New Zealand, as these were all diverse, individual markets. For instance, he noted that while Huawei's enterprise team will focus on small and midsize businesses (SMBs), government and education sectors in Singapore this year, it will zoom in on specific verticals such as utilities and mining in Australia.

To do so, it will rely on building out its partner ecosystem that include telcos, Internet service providers and analyst firms, to get the vendor's name and products out to the market, he said.

Heng expressed confidence business in South Pacific will grow "aggressively" this year, though, saying Huawei had projected enterprise sales to grow 80 percent to 90 percent, above 2011's figure which clocked at US$200 million. Its business will come from its range of products and services such as cloud computing, unified communications, and data center, he added.

This expected regional growth rate is some six times higher than the global growth Huawei had projected earlier. The company said it expects to hit 15 to 20 percent growth this year, as it moves toward its longer term plan of becoming a US$100 billion company by 2020.

This growth will be driven by the two new business units, and the company has set a high bar for both. In the consumer space, Scott Sykes, vice president of corporate media affairs at Huawei, pointed out in a previous report Huawei was aiming to be the third-biggest Android handset manufacturer globally in three to five years' time. Singapore, Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan and Vietnam were identified as key markets it was targeting.

David He, president of marketing for Huawei's enterprise business group, also revealed the enterprise unit showed 50 percent growth to rake in US$1.5 billion in 2011, with plans to bring 10 times that in contract sales by 2015.