The pull of project management

Project management and ongoing services are the future, according to Syscom Emirates, which has no doubts about the direction it is heading.

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By  Julian Pletts Published  October 13, 2008

Systems integration in the burgeoning telecommunications sector has become so much more than completing RFPs, showing up on-site, carrying out an installation and heading for the exit. Project management and ongoing services are the future, according to Syscom Emirates, which has no doubts about the direction it is heading.

"The market has changed so much and the dynamics have changed. The customer is extremely knowledgeable, their requirements are greater and distributors are more demanding - it is a lot of hard work," confessed Yawad Sajjad, general manager at telecoms solutions integrator Syscom Emirates, upon taking a moment to reflect on the shape of the market.

Although Syscom Emirates is still a relatively young addition to the solutions integration sector - it was founded in 2004 through a venture between Dubai Investment Group and European partners and is now wholly owned by the former - it has been around long enough to propagate strong partnerships with vendors Avaya and Mitel, as well as cultivate a substantial end-user customer network.

"We have a strategy which is twofold," explained Sajjad. "We have standalone products, such as basic cordless phones, and we also offer public branch exchanges for SMEs and large enterprises. But it is systems integration which is our core business and our major revenue comes from that," he revealed.

One of the forefront aspects of Syscom's business that Sajjad is keen to emphasise is that it is an end-to-end ‘turnkey' telecoms provider: "We are trying to service the client from all angles, to fulfill the smaller requirements and then go for the overall objective, which helps us satisfy as many customers as we can."

Sajjad believes a greater partner ecosystem is now needed to answer end-user demands and thus the role of Syscom has evolved beyond mere integration to full-blown project management. "We are getting more involved in project management and there's enormous potential for such projects," proclaimed Sajjad.

In fact, the sector holds so much promise that Syscom has not yet been able to capitalise on the demand. "I shouldn't be saying this on record, but we simply cannot cope," admitted Sajjad. "It's a catch-22 situation. We are in a position where we are saying ‘no thank you' to certain projects that we can't deliver.

As well as ring-leading an entire telecoms implementation, Syscom now views an ongoing service and upgrade relationship as an important aspect of its business, with about 40% of accounts currently calling for such a long-term commitment.

And the margins are good too. "We have a situation where we can demand higher margins because we are giving solutions that are not only product-based," he said.

They are about implementation and servicing so you have quite a few things that have to be in-built into your margins. It is a one-stop-shop with a lot of things in one bundle so we can drive decent margins."

Given this scenario, the company is planning to create a dedicated post-sales service department within the next year.

Despite the fact that Sajjad paints a positive picture of the telecoms integration market in the region, and that as an arm of the expansive Dubai Investment Group leads are not hard to come by, working as a systems integrator still presents a number of challenges.

"We are facing eroding profit margins, competition and the high cost of operating in a very specified range and that is creating a lot of difficulties in the market such as compatibility issues. And, as part of Dubai Investment, we also have high standards to maintain," he said.

While that may be the case, the company undoubtedly has what it takes to maintain its ascent.

Syscom Emirates

Address:

Syscom Emirates LLC

Art Tower, Office 302

PO Box 49700

Dubai, UAE

Contact: Tel: +971 393 4788

Headcount: 70

Vendor partners: Avaya, Mitel

Market focus:

Syscom is solely focused on the telecommunications domain with its own range of telephony solutions to complement those of its vendor partners. In addition to serving the UAE, the firm also works with distributors in Oman, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, while partnerships in Iran and Qatar are believed to be on the horizon.

Website: www.syscom.ae

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