Dream teams

It’s all about the channel ecosystem in 2006. That’s the message being pumped out by vendors, distributors and solution providers in the Middle East. The channel is waking up to the fact that the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts when partners pool their expertise and resources to deliver complete solutions.

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By  Stuart Wilson Published  February 8, 2006

It’s all about the channel ecosystem in 2006. That’s the message being pumped out by vendors, distributors and solution providers in the Middle East. The channel is waking up to the fact that the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts when partners pool their expertise and resources to deliver complete solutions.

The development of channel ecosystems — where vendors, distributors, resellers and service providers work seamlessly together to deliver a complete solution for customers — goes hand-in-hand with the process of channel segmentation and clear role definition within the market.

There will always be some companies that resist the need to strike partnerships to deliver the very best solutions to customers. Some are scared that they will lose their ownership of the customer by involving third party suppliers and put themselves in a position where they can eventually be frozen out of the ecosystems.

That sort of client protectionism is shortsighted in the extreme. What these companies should be doing is ensuring that they are coming up with the most compelling value-adds possible in the area that they decide to specialise in — be it product fulfilment, maintenance or even integration.

This focus on value-add will not only safeguard the relationships with existing clients, but also pave the way for participation in other channel ecosystems that could open the door to a group of brand new customers.

Vendors and distributors are keen to drive the formation of channel ecosystems in the Middle East and this is a model that has now become the norm in more developed markets. It is inevitable that the Middle East market will develop in a similar manner.

Those companies that steadfastly remain a ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ need to think carefully about their long-term business strategy. In a world of channel ecosystems — where partners form their own best-of-breed dream teams by working together — not specialising early enough is a dangerous game to play.

Amr Atef lands at HP

It looks like Amr Atef has kept his promise to remain involved in the IT channel. Atef resigned from his position as general manager of PC and peripherals business at Almasa IT Distribution in late 2005, leaving the company at the end of January.

Atef has a wealth of experience in distribution across the Middle East and Africa. Prior to joining Almasa, Atef worked with Raya Distribution in Egypt. It now appears that the new beneficiary of Atef’s extensive channel knowledge will be none other than HP — one of the vendors that he dealt with extensively during his time at Almasa.

A senior executive at HP has confirmed that Atef has joined Hazem Bazan’s solutions partner organisation (SPO) channel team in the region.

Market momentum

Cisco’s commitment to emerging markets has started to translate into financial results as the networking vendor reported its second quarter sales for the three months ending January 2006. With the emerging markets theatre now up and running, Cisco reported that sales in the 129 countries that make up the region climbed 30% year-on-year. Global sales were up a solid 9.3% year-on-year at US$6.6 billion for the quarter.

Commenting on the results, John Chambers, Cisco president and CEO, said: “With the expanded organisational structure focused on our emerging markets around the world, this theatre continued to accelerate its year-over-year order growth rate by several points over its solid first quarter growth rate of above 30%.”

“We feel very good about our progress and replicable processes in these emerging markets and continue to be reasonably optimistic about its growth rate potentially continuing to accelerate based on our expanded resource commitments to these emerging countries,” he added.

Cisco made the move to create the emerging markets theatre and is now starting to see the results. AMD has also created a geographic territory focused on markets with high growth potential such as the Middle East, Africa and South America.

It seems that the channel trend is for vendors to create theatres of operation based on pulling together markets with similar characteristics (as opposed to relying on traditional geographic groupings). Which vendor will be next to take the plunge?

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