Al Taqnyah finds its niche in the market

Newly-created Al Taqnyah Business Solutions - a subsidiary of the UAE-based ARMS Group - is looking to take the public sector by storm with its own blend of systems integration and consulting services. Dr. Usman Zafar, managing director at the solutions specialist, reveals how the company intends to shoulder-barge its way onto the SI circuit.

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By  Andrew Seymour Published  September 7, 2008

Newly-created Al Taqnyah Business Solutions - a subsidiary of the UAE-based ARMS Group - is looking to take the public sector by storm with its own blend of systems integration and consulting services. Dr. Usman Zafar, managing director at the solutions specialist, reveals how the company intends to shoulder-barge its way onto the SI circuit.

Al Taqnyah is a new addition to the Middle East systems integration landscape. Tell us about your business.

First of all, we are the IT arm for the whole ARMS Group, but as a systems integrator we are also carefully following the vision of the public sector, especially Dubai e-government and the other e-governments in the region.

Our core focus is on unique technology lines based around Adobe LiveCycle products. We are trying to capitalise on that focus because there are very few systems integrators in the Middle East that are working on Adobe LiveCycle products.

Which other technology vendors are you partnering with?

We work with Cyber-SIGN, which develops a software technology for authentic electronic signatures and secure user-verification, and we are partners with Kofax as well. We are focused on bringing expertise to those technologies.

Those vendors aren't known for having large operations here. What challenges does that present?

As far as Adobe goes, they don't have a lot of technical resources here. But as part of our financial and professional commitment towards them we are ready to invest and prepare a resources pool for Adobe technologies in this market.

How many staff do you have working for Al Taqnyah at this stage?

We have around 20 to 30 people locally in the UAE market. But we also have access to around 300 other people in different GCC countries through our partners.

What type of partners are you working with in the GCC?

Partners such as SOMAC-IT, which is not physically present in Dubai, but is carrying out projects here. We are at the start of a very strategic relationship where we can pool their resources for certain technologies and provide certain resources in return for them. They are a systems integration company, but their core focus is to provide e-services and e-solutions to the public sector.

How does Al Taqnyah intend to differentiate itself from other systems integrators in the market?

We don't want to be called a product-oriented company - we will be selling our services at a strategic level first. When I say strategic level I am talking about helping organisations when it comes to business process re-engineering.

One of the major challenges for enterprise companies is change management so we will be heavily involved on the consulting side. Then, after understanding the exact requirements of the client, we will provide our products or solutions to them. Most systems integrators here are usually either product-oriented or service-oriented.

Our focus is to provide services at a strategic level - change management, business processing and consulting - and then follow that with solutions.

Who do you regard as your primary competitors?

The major competitors in the market would include Emirates Computers, CNS, Wipro, Tata, Satyam and Bahwan CyberTek. Those are the ones that are working in the public sector with different technology portfolios - some of them are Oracle shops, others are SAP shops. However, we are coming up with a unique technology in Adobe LiveCycle.

When bidding for large e-government projects you are going to be coming up against a lot of established competitors. As a newcomer to the market, how are you going to cope with that?

The type of expertise we are talking about is definitely not gained overnight. The teams we have, the professionals we have and the committed partners we have boast a decade of experience when it comes to working in the region and delivering projects to expectation.

We will make sure that the quality delivery is there. Myself and other senior managers in the company also have very strong experience of the public sector to be able to respond to their requirements. Being a new company we have already started receiving invitations for different tenders in the market.

Integrators in the market talk about how difficult it is to source qualified staff. How easy has it been for you to recruit consultants?

We are in the process of starting up a competency centre in Egypt, which provides training. There will initially be one competency centre in Egypt and in the long term we plan a competency centre in Pakistan. That means we will be developing some resources from the Asia side as well as having our own resources based in the UAE and Egypt too.

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