High-profile candidate set for Fujitsu Siemens top job

A clear suspect has popped up time and again as the man most likely to grab the top job at Fujitsu Siemens Computers (FSC) regional operations. Six months since the vacancy first arose, the word in the Middle East IT channel is that FSC has finally got its man.

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By  Stuart Wilson Published  March 2, 2005

A clear suspect has popped up time and again as the man most likely to grab the top job at Fujitsu Siemens Computers (FSC) regional operation. Six months since the vacancy first arose, the word in the Middle East IT channel is that FSC has finally got its man.

Informed sources claim that FSC’s new regional boss is scheduled to start on April 1st 2005. It seems that a tug-of-love between his existing employer and FSC has been the reason for the delay as both companies vie for the services of the highly-experienced individual in question.

The vacancy first came up at FSC in September 2004 when Ahmed Khalil — who had been regional boss at FSC for six months — returned to his former employer, Toshiba Gulf. Since then, there have been a few false starts when FSC has declared that an appointment was imminent, but no concrete announcement was ever actually made.

Who’s the mystery man? Candidates should hold powerful positions in the region and have intimate local knowledge of the Middle East and Africa channel dynamics in order to propel FSC to the next level. These skills were probably pretty high on FSC’s wish list.

When a company is prepared to wait this long to hire a specific individual you know that it is going after a big-hitter. Whether the appointment actually happens remains to be seen. That’s all I am going to say for now.

A spokesperson at FSC said: “It looks as though it is all on track and we should have announced an appointment by April 1st, but we are still being cautious about this. The reason the process has taken this long was mainly due to the contractual situation.”

Microsoft audit

Talking of waiting, the channel is still waiting with bated breath for Microsoft to reveal the results of its distributor audit, and also explain exactly how software sold into the Middle East channel ended up making its way to a reseller in the UK.

Microsoft’s audit team should also have uncovered some interesting details about OEM deals and large contracts in the region. The question now is whether or not Microsoft is brave enough to take the necessary steps to purge both its channel and internal policies of the rogue elements and inadequate procedures that effectively condoned these transactions.

At least one new distributor has already been primed by Microsoft and could take up some of the slack should the software behemoth actually drop any of its existing partners. Dropping existing distributors would be a difficult step to take given both their reach and established relationships with local PC assemblers and software resellers in the region.

The bigger picture

Everyone involved in the channel knows that a portion of software sold in the Middle East ends up being sold to customers outside the region. Many vendors still need to assess the true size of the regional IT market much more accurately.

For some, the scale of the Middle East IT opportunity has been overestimated, resulting in huge investment on the ground. The aggressive sales targets that have been put in place were at first achieved — even if some vendors had to bend the rules slightly to meet these stretch goals.

The point that needs to be made is that this aggressive sales mentality can only be sustained for so long. As soon as one stretch target is hit, the bar is immediately raised for the next quarter and the pressure ratchets up yet another notch.

If the growth potential is there and actually exists in the region, then this is not a problem. If the growth is not there, vendors can show a greater propensity to turn a blind eye to the unscrupulous behaviour involving both their regional channel and internal staff thus facilitating grey trade and re-export out of the designated geographic area.

It is easy for this type of activity to start and it is incredibly difficult to stop. Like running down a steep hill, momentum grows and a self-perpetuating process of acceleration occurs. It is no surprise to see a few people fall over eventually.

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