Gone till November

GITEX is upon us again, and as usual vendors are stressing their commitment to the Middle East. All very admirable of course, but talk is cheap and IT solutions are not.

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By  Daniel Stanton Published  November 16, 2006

|~||~||~|GITEX is upon us again, and as usual vendors are stressing their commitment to the Middle East. All very admirable of course, but talk is cheap and IT solutions are not.
Before making a commitment to invest in new technology, a CIO wants to know that they will be supported if there are any problems in the implementation or further down the road.

Too many international IT vendors say all the right things at GITEX but are nowhere to be seen during the rest of the year. As it is one of the largest IT exhibitions in the world, it is essential for the big names to attend GITEX, but they should not think that attendance at one show is enough to demonstrate their commitment to the Middle East. No amount of free pens can make up for being left with outdated technology.

Of course, not all of the multinational vendors are here to make just a token appearance. A number of them have demonstrated their commitment to the region through strong partnerships with local integrators and suppliers and localised products.

However, there are those who are happy to cash in on the region’s rapid growth and the massive investments that are being made in IT infrastructure but who have not established a Middle East office or made an effort to Arabise their products. It probably does not take much thought to come up with a list of vendors for whom the Middle East is something of an afterthought – albeit an increasingly profitable one.

Of course, GITEX is a time for new vendors to make their presence known as they attempt to break into the market. Some of these companies may be prepared to make a real commitment to the region, but CIOs need to do their homework and ask the tough questions now to avoid disappointment later.

Things seem to be improving: a growing number of multinational vendors are setting up regional offices in Dubai, and companies are realising the importance of having a base in Saudi Arabia, rather than just paying flying visits.

However, it may be a while before such companies are willing to invest in building a presence in less profitable countries in the region. For CIOs outside Saudi Arabia and the UAE, exhibitions represent probably the best chance to speak to vendors and find out everything they need to know about the products being pushed.

So when you hit GITEX, don’t be afraid to ask the vendors awkward questions about their strategies. For some CIOs, it could be a long time before they get the chance again.||**||

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