Tall claims

Vendors who continue to make unsubstantiated statements of massive investments might find nobody takes them seriously.

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By  Sathya Ashok Published  July 30, 2008

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview the visiting CEO of a global wireless firm which provides networking services to telecom providers, as well as LANs for enterprises.

A reasonably well-known brand name with an existing partner base, what I was trying to achieve from the interview was to get a perspective of the company's current activities in the Middle East and what it was doing to fuel the next stage of growth.

During the interview, the CEO proudly stated that he expected the company to grow by 100% in the Middle East in the next one to two years. I asked him at what percentage the company had been growing in the last two quarters. He replied he could not answer that. I asked him what percentage of his global revenue was contributed by the Middle East. He said he could not answer that either. He did say that a large portion of the company's regional revenue came from the UAE alone, but proceeded not to identify how much exactly (in percentage terms) was being contributed by the country.

And, oh yes, they are setting up an office and staffing it with exactly two people.

So, here we have a company, which is pretty sure that it will grow by 100% in the next year. And that could be absolutely true, because for all we know, they have around 1% growth in the region and anything more than 2% is already 100% growth.

And this is not a unique case. Most vendor spokespeople, especially those who fly into the Middle East on short visits, have a way of expressing their commitment to the region, without committing much of anything.

Many of them also tend to use fancy words and language bordering on hyperbole to describe the potential of the Middle East and the significant investment that they are putting into the region to aid their development. Push them for exact figures on any of this, however, and you will most likely draw a blank.

Everybody knows that the region is growing fast. And that growth is something that most vendors cannot ignore. However, many small vendors often cannot put in strong forces on the ground to tap truly into the potential. This is understandable, considering that many of them might lack the financial strength to make their presence felt in a strong way in the region. What irritates me is the fact that they tend to make their rather modest investments sound massive and use the vaguest of terms to try to convince people that this is so.

Frankly, as far as I am concerned, this kind of talk from vendors just shows disrespect to the region. You cannot claim that the region is maturing, that end-users are becoming more aware and knowledgeable, and then refuse to give them a true perspective of what you are and what you have been doing in the Middle East. That is just insulting end-user intelligence.

Spokespeople who take the time, effort and put in the resources to fly down to the region, should also take care to define their size and intentions from a more realistic and comparative standpoint to the huge end-user community that they are trying to address.

Enterprises a year back might have been unable to demand more, but things have changed, and Middle East end-users are not likely to tolerate tall, unsubstantiated claims from any vendor. They know that words are cheap and anybody can make assertions of growth.

Providers who are looking to tap into the market more, would be well advised to remember that they need to corroborate their aims of massive growth and give a clear idea of how it is going to happen. Otherwise, they might find that nobody really has the time to take them seriously.

3342 days ago
Mohammed Ali

This is the media's fault as they believe anything. I remember when the CEO for Cisco came and the numbers were huge. Did anyone question this? I don't think so... You are the people who publish and you have to be tougher with companies who make big claims.

3343 days ago
Firozali A.Mulla DBA

Tall claims Sathya Ashok I wish you success to find a person who can tell you that he has a corporation and that he is not doing well. Let us look at the market of any commodity including the property. Do you think the vendor will tell you he is sick of the market and that he is joining the auto repairs industry as there are many cars on the roads and we need the mechanics now more than the property in some place where the infrastructures have missed the mark? No. All will give you the best of the news to make you feel that you are in the wrong place and give the news that will depress you. They want you to go so low that you start thinking that you leave the present status of your and look for another market. You are in the wrong souk and that is exactly he did. I than you Firozali A. Mulla DBA

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