Gigantic Gitex

Dubai is gearing up for Gitex 2006, one of the world’s top IT exhibitions, which continues to buck global trends by getting bigger every year.

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By  Published  October 31, 2006

Gitex 2005 saw well over 1,000 exhibitors representing almost 3,000 companies from 61 countries, yet event organiser Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) believes this year's exhibition will surpass all expectations.

The massive turnout expected at Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre on November 18- 22 represents the strengthening IT market across the region, as well as escalating IT expenditure.

Rising oil revenues continue to boost the region's economies, which means there are plenty of companies with cash to splash on IT to make their businesses run more efficiently. In fact, IDC analysts believe that Middle East ICT spend will reach a staggering US$16.8 billion by 2010 - up from $8.4 billion in 2005.

And there is no better place than Gitex for prospective buyers to check out the latest industry developments and new products available before they commit to opening their wallets.

"Gitex has firmly established itself as the premier exhibition in its field," explains Helal Saeed Al Marri, director general at DWTC.

"We are committed to providing the perfect platform for all companies in this sector, allowing them to showcase the incredible progress that is being made in the technology field across the Middle East and beyond."

While economic growth continues to drive IT investments, the region has been warned that a lack of suitable IT skills may slow the growth, according to Trixee Loh, general manager DWTC. "We're seeing business and organisations right across the region investing heavily in technology, but they need to focus as hard on ensuring the right skill mix."

According to industry experts, skills are currently required in three major areas: networking, project management and hands-on skills.

Skill sets under particular scrutiny cluster in hot technology areas such as IP telephony, security and wireless. In the advanced networking area itself, the skills shortfall is projected to touch the 40% mark by 2009 - more than twice the European figure.

"Technology on its own is not a solution - to add real value, it must be aligned with the business.

Ensuring that close fit is the challenge for many organisations but it is a critical step towards the knowledge-based economy on which the region is building its future," says DWTC project manager, Aliya Al Ali.

Driving knowledge transfer and skills development is a component in the skills development cycle of major vendors in the region. Gitex serves as a platform to explore future collaboration. A number of IT training companies, including New Horizons Computer Learning Centre, International Learning Solutions, Sites Power, Al Khaleej Training, Dubai Netlink and others, are at Gitex showcasing their learning and training offerings.

There is also be innovative hardware on offer from the likes of HP, which is showing off a wide range its industry-leading IT products, which today range from the desktop to the data centre.

Joseph Hanania, managing director at HP Middle East, says: "As the main IT exhibition in the Middle East, Gitex is a vital event for HP. It is an important event for us to reach out to small and medium enterprises.”

Electronics giants LG has the latest notebooks to display, including the DMB notebook, the P1, T1, S1, and a new tablet PC is showcased, while the latest in the company's Blu-ray enabled range of super multi DVD, DVD writers and players are also featured prominently. Visitors can also see wall-mounted projectors and HD projectors.

One of the world's top software providers, Microsoft, is one company with plenty of products and solutions to present within its 900 square metre stand. These include new versions of its Office and Exchange suites as well as the latest Vista solutions.

Around 50 of Microsoft's partners are also on hand to help Gitex visitors learn about the functionality and benefits of a host of other upto- date solutions.

SAP is another of the big software companies taking part at the exhibition, following its recent partnership with Microsoft in the Duet joint development which provides seamless access to SAP business processes and data via Microsoft Office.

Esam Enany, president at SAP Arabia, says: "SAP will be showcasing its innovative solutions that will help support customers and prospects, transform and streamline their business processes as well as outthink, out-execute, and outperform their competitors." Also with a major presence at the event is Oracle, which has gained some impressive acquisitions in the past year.

Oracle's Retail and CRM departments are showing their technology with visitors getting to see 'hands-on' demonstrations of their new solutions.

Dana Murugan, senior marketing director of Oracle Middle East and Africa, says: "You'll see a much deeper focus on acquisitions this year, obviously because of the acquisitions that we have made. This year we feel confident that Gitex is going to be a lot bigger for us."

Oracle and SAP may be competing for dominance in global ERP markets, but it is 3i Infotech that has emerged as one of the main challengers to the top two or three ERP vendors in the Middle East. It is taking full advantage of Gitex to launch its MFund, Asset and Mutual Funds Management solution, designed to streamline fund accounting, valuation and investment management.

Epicor Scala is one of the tier 2 vendors making an appearance and it is making the most of the opportunity to scout for new channel partners.

Other tier 2 vendors operating in the region who are present include Sage, IFS, and Focus Softnet which is launching its Dot Net ERP solution globally at the event. Focus RT, which uses .Net technology, is webbased, meaning users can access applications online and increase the ability to view data from the system.

It also features enhanced dashboard features for users to provide data tailored to their needs and the department they are working in. The new GulfComms exhibition is being run alongside Gitex 2006.

This is being billed as the largest telecommunications event in the Middle East and is an essential destination for anyone connected with the fast-expanding telecommunications sector in the Middle East.

“IT and business alignment is a critical step towards the knowledge-based economy on which the region is building its future.”

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