Second half stories

In the second part of our eChannel review of 2005, we cast our minds back to the months July through to December, and take a look at the news, trends and events that shaped the second half of the year in the Middle East channel. Sales certainly grew in 2005, but margin pressure intensified as the regional IT channel matured even further.

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By  Stuart Wilson Published  December 23, 2005

In the second part of our eChannel review of 2005, we cast our minds back to the months July through to December, and take a look at the news, trends and events that shaped the second half of the year in the Middle East channel. Sales certainly grew in 2005, but margin pressure intensified as the regional IT channel matured even further.

July: CA channel push

The team at Computer Associates, led by Gilbert Lacroix continued to flesh out its ‘channel-friendly’ credentials as it unveiled a three-tier partner programme in the region. Time Group Middle East announced plans for an assembly plant at Dubai Silicon Oasis and Sun Microsystems stumped up a whopping US$4.1bn for StorageTek. Monitor vendor Viewsonic revitalised its channel approach in Egypt, signing up Metra Computers.

August: PPP unveiled

HP channel champs Christoph Schell and Hazem Bazan got to grips with the concept of T-shaped resellers as the channel got to grips with the implications of the Preferred Partner Programme. Sumit Kumar, formerly of Aptec, took up the reins as regional boss at US Robotics. Joe Devassy, now in place as enterprise solutions sales manager at Nokia MENA, set about recruiting a channel of integrators and solution providers capable of taking push e-mail solutions to market.

September: Hello ChannelTech

Fujitsu Siemens boosted its GCC reach, naming ChannelTech — the distribution arm of Sahara — as a partner. Sajit Sarwar, one of the rising stars within Aptec was promoted to the position of finance and operations controller. Down on Computer Street, resellers decided the time was right to start a trade association to monitor competition and drive channel profitability through collaboration. The local Lenovo team was unveiled as the Chinese PC giant geared up for 2006.

October: Shepherd steps down

Our bumper Gitex issue broke the news that Eliot Shepherd was stepping down from his role as marketing director at Tech Data Middle East. We also outlined Sun Microsystems’ plans to revamp its channel programme and recruit more partners to reflect its growing product portfolio. Full details of HP’s Preferred Partner Programme were unveiled as Hazem Bazan and his channel team set about introducing a radical new model for the vendor’s channel.

November: Al-Jammaz boost

One of this year’s rising stars in Saudi Arabia, Al-Jammaz, continued to flesh out its product portfolio adding APC to its vendor mix. Asim S. Al-Jammaz has played a pivotal role during 2005 as the in-country distributor also tied up with Dell and Sun in the Kingdom. Redington grabbed 3Com rights in Saudi as well. Networking vendor 3Com is targeting further channel recruits in 2006 as it looks to challenge Cisco’s dominance.

December: Berkin resigns

We ended the year pretty much the same way as we started with another high-ranking departure at Microsoft, as Emre Berkin, chairman at Microsoft Middle East and Africa announced his resignation. Tech Data made its long awaited move into the value-added distribution arena in the Middle East with the launch of Azlan in the region. Iran took centre stage as we sidestepped the embargos currently in place and got to grips with one of the largest IT markets in the entire Middle East region.

Looking back on the events of 2005, it is clear that the Middle East channel is in the midst of a profound structural overhaul. This region is now hitting critical mass in terms of volumes and the channel models of yesteryear will become increasingly outdated. Most of the distributors and resellers out there know precisely what the advice is for 2006 in terms of business strategy. As always, it’s a case of get big, get niche or get out.

Happy margin hunting for 2006 and as always, if you have any news or views on developments in the Middle East IT channel, feel free to e-mail stuart.wilson@itp.com

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