Welcome back!

It’s great to see Maan Ahmadie making a triumphant return to Intel’s regional operation as the CPU giant’s new EMEA-wide distribution manager following his mystery six-month ‘assignment’ in the US.

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By  Stuart Wilson and Andrew Seymour Published  January 31, 2007

It’s great to see Maan Ahmadie making a triumphant return to Intel’s regional operation as the CPU giant’s new EMEA-wide distribution manager following his mystery six-month ‘assignment’ in the US.

Before he left the region to start work on the ‘assignment’, Ahmadie was of course regional sales chief in the Middle East — and a familiar figure in the channel. Welcome back Maan, and especially for you, here’s a quick recap on what you may have missed during your six-month sojourn…sorry, ‘assignment’ in the US.

Well first off, the credit crisis facing Dubai-based Intel distributors — the one that started brewing just before you left on ‘assignment’ — escalated rapidly, reaching epic proportions and leaving Intel’s first tier channel partners facing millions of dollars in bad debt. I’m sure they will tell you all about it when you next see them.

What else? Oh yes, I remember, the Intel auditors arrived in the Middle East and visited some partners in Egypt and the UAE. Apparently, some of those big assemblers that were creaming loads of cash off the Intel Inside scheme might not have been making quite as many PCs as they said they were – the naughty little scamps.

That is of course the same Intel Inside scheme and channel reward structure that unfortunately concentrated massive buying power in the hands of a few resellers — sorry, assemblers — and prompted Intel’s authorised distributors in the Middle East to give them ridiculously high credit lines.

It’s quite amazing really that you missed so much while you were away on ‘assignment’. It was probably quite a good time not to be in the region to be honest. Anyway, feel free to give Channel Middle East a call if you want to talk about the last six months and do let us know what the mystery ‘assignment’ was all about.

Did it have anything to do with distributor financing, corporate compliance, sustainable credit policies and rebate and incentive programmes? We’d love to know.

The Cisco starter camp

There’s a vicious rumour sweeping Dubai Internet City this week, claiming that 3Com Middle East is going to rebrand itself as ‘The Cisco Starter Camp’.

Maybe that’s a little bit harsh, but given Cisco’s determination to expand its Dubai-based operation at breakneck speed, it doesn’t seem too far from the truth. The number of ex-3Com employees now plying their trade at Cisco Middle East seems to rise on an almost weekly basis.

Cisco’s appetite for new blood — an understandable desire given the vendor’s plans to triple its UAE headcount to 1,000 within three years – seems insatiable at times. So much so that the impact is now percolating down beneath the vendor level, with 3Com product managers at distributors also coming under Cisco’s recruitment radar.

3Com’s putting a brave face on the situation — and you have to feel for the company a little bit as it attempts to fend off its mighty rival. The vendor has now created a new theatre linking the Middle East and South Africa and named Gavin Zackey as regional boss.

The vendor is also recruiting new staff and has pledged its long-term commitment to its Middle East customers. In addition, 3Com has announced that senior global and EMEA executives will arrive in the region in March to outline the company’s strategy.

Recruitment isn’t too much of a problem for 3Com Middle East, but staff retention is. By all accounts, Cisco is splashing some serious cash on attractive remuneration packages to pull in the new recruits.

Is Cisco’s projected growth rate realistic in the Middle East? The management clearly thinks it is. With top-notch packages on offer, it’s little wonder that many networking and IT professionals are finding a switch to Cisco hard to refuse.

Paying big bucks to entice the top talent is going to be a tactic that other vendors will be forced to deploy if current talk of a skills shortage in the market persists. Various competitive and economic factors are putting intense pressure on the recruitment market, which could cause the Middle East IT channel to suffer a devastating setback. We’ll explore this issue in more depth in next week’s eChannel.

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