Exact slams channel skills

Midmarket ERP vendor Exact Software has slammed the Middle East IT channel’s ability to provide adequate levels of post-installation services and support.

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By  Stuart Wilson Published  August 28, 2004

Midmarket ERP vendor Exact Software has slammed the Middle East IT channel’s ability to provide adequate levels of post-installation services and support. Exact’s assertions, based on a ‘series of qualitative interviews across the region’, suggested that customers were not receiving the maximum return on investment from their solutions because channel partners lacked the necessary technical expertise. “Channel partners are geared to selling solutions and have excellent reach in their respective markets, but they often do not have a suitable level of knowledge about the solution, so customers are losing out on their investment return,” said Nizar Badwan, general manager at Exact Software Middle East. “Rather than having partial knowledge about a variety of different solutions from multiple vendors, Exact software specialists only focus on our product, meaning customers receive an enhanced and more efficient service,” he added. Since opening its Middle East subsidiary, Exact has targeted a direct sales strategy, exited resell agreements with distributors in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE and taken over support operations itself. The vendor plans to establish a network of regional offices in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, the Levant and Egypt to provide direct in-country support to customers. Exact believes that customers in the region are prepared to pay a premium to receive the depth of skills available from direct vendor support. “The feedback we received from customers was that the anticipated benefits of installing a solution were not being fulfilled, during and after implementation, because the service they received did not match their needs,” said Badwan. “Increasingly, we are finding that customers are willing to pay a premium for post-implementation service contracts to ensure they are receiving the maximum value from their ERP software investment.” Exact believes that post-implementation support will become a major revenue driver over the next two years. The vendor currently offers four support levels — bronze, silver, gold and platinum — ranging from basic e-mail support through to round-the-clock technical assistance. With multiple vendors targeting the midmarket ERP space in the Middle East, quality partners are in demand and ensuring that they remain committed to one vendor is a constant battle. With major names such as Microsoft Business Solution (MBS), Oracle, SAP, Sage and Scala all operating in the midmarket business applications space, there are not always enough skilled partners to go round — especially in some of the smaller national markets. Exact’s direct sales strategy will compete against the market reach and established customer relationships that channel partners provide some of its competitors with. Channel partners can also offer a choice of applications from multiple vendors that they believe are best suited to the customer’s needs — something a vendor’s direct sales team cannot match.

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