Moving in-country

Serving the Saudi market through remote offices and flying in a salesperson once a year is no longer a recipe for business success in the Kingdom. As the overall market size has increased, so too has the need for vendors to match their Saudi ambitions with genuine inward investment.

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By  Stuart Wilson Published  April 16, 2006

|~||~||~|Serving the Saudi market through remote offices and flying in a salesperson once a year is no longer a recipe for business success in the Kingdom. As the overall market size has increased, so too has the need for vendors to match their Saudi ambitions with genuine inward investment. This means people on the ground, regular interaction with channel partners and superb pre- and post-sales service and support. Since last year’s Gitex Saudi Arabia, this trend has become crystal clear — painfully so for those vendors still sitting on the sidelines. Forget e-mails, forget instant messaging and forget conference calls; vendors that are serious about the Saudi market understand that there is no substitute for being physically present in the market. The problem is, the market is growing so fast that even vendors and solution providers without ‘feet on the street’ in the Kingdom, can still witness solid sales growth. In some cases they happily accept this, failing to realise that their sales spike is actually just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what they could achieve. One senior Middle East IT executive, who took up his post last year, relocating to Dubai from North America in the process, recently confided that in his first six months in his new role he had made five trips to Saudi Arabia — and he wished it could have been more. As the overall Saudi IT market grows, so too do the expectations of the customer base — from the individual consumer through to the largest enterprise. Demanding and tech-savvy customers will no longer tolerate sloppy service and poorly trained partners in the Kingdom. They want the very best, they have the budgets allocated and they want it now. It can no longer be a case of dumping products in the UAE and then hoping that they find their way into Saudi Arabia through the channel. The buzz phrase for vendors now when it comes to the development of channels-to-market in Saudi Arabia is ‘in-country presence’. Software vendors want skilled partners located across the Kingdom capable of supporting customers in every major city. Hardware vendors want to make sure they have the maximum breadth and depth in their channel to cover the total addressable market in the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia is far and away the largest IT market in the region. The market has already reached a critical mass that should — as it would in any other market — act as the catalyst for vendors to establish significant operations of their own within the country. For those still tentative about taking such a bold step, the next best thing is to make sure that you have a well-structured and well-defined network of partners capable of taking your products and solutions to market. Whatever stage a vendor is at in terms of its approach to the Saudi market, Gitex Saudi Arabia offers a focused opportunity to network with industry professionals. You’ve got to be in it to win it and the absence of the ‘stay away’ vendors is becoming more conspicuous with each passing day in the region’s largest IT market. ||**||

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