Moving in on managed services

Having previously attended to customers in the Middle East by flying in staff from various global subsidiaries, Dimension Data has now made a firm commitment to the region's IT market by establishing a local presence in the UAE. Siddeek Rahim, Gulf managing director at the valued Cisco and Microsoft integrator, explains the company's plans to shake up managed services.

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By  Julian Pletts Published  April 15, 2008

Having previously attended to customers in the Middle East by flying in staff from various global subsidiaries, Dimension Data has now made a firm commitment to the region's IT market by establishing a local presence in the UAE.

Siddeek Rahim, Gulf managing director at the valued Cisco and Microsoft integrator, explains the company's plans to shake up managed services.

Is the joint venture with Data Processing systems that you recently announced the way you have formally entered the IT market in the Middle East?

siddeek Rahim: It is actually not a joint venture, it's technically an acquisition, one of 51% to 49%. We have seen this market for a couple of years as an emerging market. It was decided that the best way to enter was to find a local business or partner to acquire and keep its efficient local knowledge, capitalise on its skills and contacts, and bring in international expertise from our end. Our Dubai Internet City office has been here in terms of infrastructure. We will still use it purely because of the location. If you look at DIC, only major international brands are there.

When was the decision for the acquisition made and why?

We spent a good year looking at the market and the right organisation to buy. We wanted to make sure it had the right cultural ethics, condition and initiative. We had to make sure it had a passion for services.

We haven't bought the largest company here, but we have made sure that we can grow off it as a base.

Our intention is to keep all DPS staff and we have expanded the territory of its senior management from the UAE to the Gulf, but we will treat Saudi Arabia as a separate entity.

How do you plan to expand the business in the Middle East?

Qatar is of great interest for us. It is suddenly a very exciting market, so the next stop out of the UAE will be Qatar when you consider strong markets nearby such as Kuwait.

The strength of our partnerships with key vendors in more contained markets helps us answer the questions: What is the competitive landscape like? Where do you need the tiers of Dimension Data, particularly from an integration perspective?

Also, from a services perspective, this is a region were you will find a lot of immaturity particularly with regards to quality of services. The market has only just started talking about outsourcing and will probably go through a maturation period.

You are known as a global Cisco partner. How is the relationship shaping up here?

We work with Cisco to find out how we can complement them in areas that other partners are unable to, for whatever reason. It is not a matter of us coming in and taking away market share. The big area, for one, is managed services.

This is an environment where you find a lot of the systems integrators are more into the deployment rather than fulfillment. We also carry out planning and strong methodology, but a core component of our service portfolio is managed services.

How much did Cisco encourage you to come into the market? Did they say, ‘there is a hole in the managed services space and want you to fill it'?

That's something you would be better off asking them. They are obviously keen to have a strong partner here and some of the coverage we bring allows us to service a lot of Cisco's clients, not just in the UAE, but customers in the Middle East with footprints in Europe, Africa and elsewhere - telcos for instance.

Also, the ability for Dimension Data to put Cisco and Microsoft together in a customer environment is a huge differentiator for us, especially in the unified communications space. That is something that is on our radar.

What expertise can you bring to the IT market here?

Look at our services continuum and ability to plan space and go in and build. Matching technical blueprints to business requirements is a major strength. We say; this is what your business centre can do today, what it could do, and this is how to get it there.

On the implementation side, we have advanced methodologies tailored around the best project management protocols in the world.

Go further down the continuum and we have answers to managed environment needs, everything from managing the desktops, people and infrastructure that goes around it, to something as simple as just managing IP telephony.

What targets do you have for the Middle East business?

Taking the acquisition as a base, we want to get to a point where we are growing slightly faster. DPS was doing well for its size, strategy and influence and we want to complement that and ramp it up to where it is growing much faster than the rate at which the current IT market is growing. A benchmark is the rate the networking market in the Middle East is growing.

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