Knowledge masters

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions are becoming highly intricate, making them an increasingly complex sale for software resellers and consultants. Channel Middle East asks some of the region’s leading ERP providers to detail their go-to-market strategies and outline the challenges facing the channel.

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By  Julian Pletts Published  December 10, 2007

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions are becoming highly intricate, making them an increasingly complex sale for software resellers and consultants. Channel Middle East asks some of the region’s leading ERP providers to detail their go-to-market strategies and outline the challenges facing the channel.

They are: Mark Van der Ven (MV), managing director at Sage Middle East; Hari Padmanabhan (HP), deputy managing director at 3i Infotech; Basil Daniells (BD), regional director at Epicor; Tamer Elhamy (TE), business solutions manager at Microsoft; Hisham Esaadi (HE), director of alliances and channels at Oracle MEA; Ferri Abolhassan (FA), executive VP of large enterprise EMEA at SAP.

If we could sell everything through the channel we would love to do that, but we have to make sure that the customer is taken care of and that the implementation is carried out professionally.

The ERP software market in the Middle East and Africa continues to grow at a double-digit rate. Is this growth sustainable and if so, why?

MV: I can see it growing like this for at least the next two years. After all, there is general economic growth for obvious reasons including the level of oil prices, which is bringing a lot of investment and a lot of cash into the region.

There is more competition, companies need to get their houses in order, there's a lot of modernisation and structuring going on and firms know that they need proper assistance for that.

The days of playing around with homemade solutions and internally-developed software are largely over.

BD: The majority of the market segment over here is small compared to global standards.

These small companies have traditionally been working with accounting systems, but now, because of the external market demands and pressures from their suppliers, they feel a need to go for an end-to-end solution that covers the whole of the business they are in.

We are seeing that kind of demand starting up now and that will continue well into the future, for us and for any ERP vendor.

TE: According to IDC reports, the ERP market in the Gulf region is growing around 15%. Last year we saw growth of 25% and this year we are estimating it to perhaps grow 50%.

Companies invest more in growth so you'll see conglomerates doing retail and distribution that also have manufacturing and warehousing facilities.

So even within one group you will see an increasing amount of companies that belong to that group. That is why we feel this growth is going to continue.

There is a heated battle for customers in the Middle East ERP market. How are you evolving your strategy to ensure you remain competitive?

HE: We have local offices and what differentiates us from most other ERP vendors is that we listen closely to the customer's needs.

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