With confidence returning to the South African IT market, driven to a huge degree by the strengthening of the Rand against the Dollar in the first quarter of this year, the mantra of 'local is lekker' is finding credence again.
"Despite that change in sentiment however, the South African market is still heavily centred on the importation of internationally-assembled hardware and packaged software solutions," says Sophia Evans, PSG product manager at Tarsus Technologies.
"Most corporates would be surprised to hear, however, that local assembly plants and HP's in particular, are producing more reliable products than those that are imported," she says. "This means that apart from offering valuable cost reductions to users, the units originating from this local assembly plant are less prone to the reliability issues that similarly kitted-out and assembled imported units are. These facts offer a strong incentive for local buyers to support local skills and efforts."
Thibault Dousson, category country manager for HP South Africa concurs with Evans's sentiments: "I can confirm that the locally assembled HP DX6100 and DX2000 desktop computers produced at our local assembly plant have a failure rate that is between one and two percentage points lower than that of imported units."
What contributes to this reliability, Dousson says, is the fact that the locally assembled PCs are not subjected to the same type of handling that imported units undergo in the shipping process.
"Combine this with the lower price of these locally assembled units, and customers have a stronger than ever incentive to invest in locally produced solutions," he says. While this information still needs proliferation into the market, a fair amount of this good news has already made its way into the minds of decision makers.
"Our local assembly operation was started in 2002 and since then, has experienced in the region of a 25% year-on-year growth, producing 57 000 units in 2003, 72 000 units in 2004 and showing a strong indication that we may exceed 100 000 units by the end of 2005."
The local assembly plant is currently geared up to produce anywhere between 8000 and 10 000 units per month, a feat already achieved in April 2004, when the facility successfully produced 11 000 units.
"We are currently moving in the region of 8000 locally assembled machines into the South African channel, a figure which places us in a comfortable enough position to gear up to our maximum load of 10 000, should a large order be placed," Dousson says.
Besides the lower price points and higher level of reliability, Dousson says that one of the biggest benefits brought to the South African market by the local assembly facility is the fact that it is able to build to order. Because the computers leaving the facility are built to specification, customers have the ability to state exactly which components they require. As this does not entail importing those models and then re-tooling them, HP can deliver and cater to the exact needs of any customer and deliver within 72 hours.