Instingo to ramp up Middle East operations

German based e-consultants, Instingo, are to ramp up operations in the Middle East. Three test projects are underway and the company will open an office in Dubai's Internet City within the next two months.

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By  Matthew Southwell Published  June 23, 2001

German based e-consultants, Instingo, are to ramp up operations in the Middle East. Three test projects are underway and the company will open an office in Dubai's Internet City within the next two months.

Specialising in e-government, the company decided to enter the Middle Eastern market after CEO, Anas Chbib, attended last year's Gitex. "There was a lot of confusion when it came to e-government and e-procurement. People were not quite sure what they were meant to be doing," he said.

This confusion was, according to Jamil Ezzo, managing director Middle East, characterised by trend buying when it came to IT. "No project is started correctly in the Middle East, they follow trends. They choose software because of vendors marketing, then they get the hardware and then the processes. This is the wrong way round because only then do they realise that they need an e-strategy."

Providing this e-strategy is Instingo's bread and butter. "As e-consultants we believe that it is a multiple tier strategy that is important. First up you need to have done the analysis of your own business, what resources do you have, how many dollars do you have to spend etc. Then you need a business plan and the ability to answer questions such as can I do this internally or do I need to outsource?" explained Ezzo.

In order to hit the market running Instingo is currently doing its homework. "[We] are gathering information that says that they [Governments in the Middle East] are not heading in the right direction," said Ezzo. Once this is accomplished he explains that the company will need to establish its presence in the market before knocking on ministers doors.

One way in which the company is beginning to establish its presence is through the sponsorship of GORFA, the forum for the development of economic relations between Arabic nations and Germany. To this end, Instingo is primarily chasing business in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, UAE and Lebanon as, according to Ezzo, "they are the five centres that are moving forward with e-business."

In addition to gunning for government business, the company is interested in the e-learning sector. Although faced by the problem of low PC penetration amongst students, Ezzo believes that PC adoption will increase when there is some real benefit to owning the PC and being online. He argues that if students know that they can continue their education online then they will invest in a PC. "It means you can have a job and learn at the same time," he said.

When it comes to implementing an e-strategy the company will rely on its own regional staff, of which there will be about ten to start with, and local partners. "We want a leadership task force within the Middle East and then look for partners on a local level. Instingo's role will be to oversee these partners and the implementation of the customers e-business strategy," explained Chbib.

Although he envisions different partners for different projects, Chbib explains, "we will be working with people like Oracle, Lamont and Systema." He also adds, "we enter partnerships with the major vendors, not to market them in the region, but to enable our clients to facilitate their e-business."

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