Microsoft tells partners to get dynamic

Tamer Elhamy, business solutions manager at Microsoft Gulf believes that with the CRM market in the region gaining traction, resellers can really start to make headway...particularly if they follow some golden rules.

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By  Administrator Published  November 14, 2008

Enterprise software provider Microsoft Dynamics has a channel that is broad, both geographically and in the variety of industry verticals that it covers. Tamer Elhamy, business solutions manager at the vendor's Gulf operation, believes that with the CRM market in the region starting to gain serious traction, resellers can really start to make headway...particularly if they follow some golden rules.

Microsoft Dynamics recently stated that emerging markets are driving growth in the business solutions sector. How do you plan to exploit this?

Last year we grew around 45% and all of this took place through the channel. Every single order or implementation is done by our partners. Most of our partners have developed add-on solutions to MS Dynamics, which are targeted at certain industries or market needs. That is why partners are a key factor in our growth.

But what are you specifically doing to make the most of the potential in the market?

We are investing a lot in our channel. Last year we spent 8,000 man-hours training partners at the MS Dynamics Academy and we are doing that again this year and updating our partners on the new technology because the MSD product line has been revamped completely. We are going to update our partners on the new technology even before it comes onto the market and we'll also do a lot of lead generation activities and core-funded activities with our channel.

Coming back to the growth in the CRM software market, Gartner Dataquest said it surged by around 40% worldwide last year. Are there any threats that could potentially slow the pace of the market in the Middle East and Africa region?

I don't think so. We have at least two or three more years of double-digit growth ahead. We are aiming for the same 45% growth that we achieved last year.

Do you intend to focus solely on the large markets such as the UAE to continue that march or will you be investing in other countries throughout the region?

The second market after the UAE for us - if you do not include Saudi Arabia - is Kuwait. We have the Presidents Club - the top 5% of our partners worldwide - and six partners obtained that accolade from the Gulf region this year. Three of those were partners in Kuwait and three were from the UAE, so Kuwait is a very important market to us.

The CRM market is worth US$8.1 billion. What contribution is this region making to that?

The Middle East is lagging behind with regards to CRM adoption, but we have seen a lot of traction around CRM and we recently ran some CRM events that drew a great attendance. We are also opening new channels and recruiting new partners for the CRM business. In addition, we are developing more vertical and add-on solutions with our existing partners to cater to the local market needs.

If the global economic crisis starts to have a greater impact on the region, do you think systems integrators involved in lengthy installations and contracts could see a slowdown in business?

There will be an affect, absolutely, but the good thing is that the Gulf region, with the high oil prices and the foreign investments, are buffering the problem and this is largely preventing it from coming here. But there is a danger. That is why I think we have more ISVs and integrators selling our products because they are faster to implement and you can turn them over quickly.

So is that something that systems integrators should look to do - speed up their implementations?

te: Yes, and many of the partners are specialising more on certain verticals. Even if they do not have a certain add-on, they will have a dedicated consultant for that industry. This specification will help them to create a template and implement faster.

What else should the channel look to do in the future to safeguard their business?

Templating is definitely one thing. If a partner has done a retail or enterprise implementation many requirements will be repeated and they can make it into an executable file. This means that instead of taking, say, 100 man-hours to implement, the second instance may take just 50 to 75 hours.

What is the best tactic that resellers in the Middle East should adopt for future sales growth?

There are two dimensions to this. One is to become more vertically-experienced, so if a partner is working well in manufacturing, we will let them do more in manufacturing and have more business consultants in this arena. The other thing is to complement solutions. If a partner is doing retail and distribution, why don't they look for a solution for transport management or inventory planning and optimisation? They can branch out but still maintain the same vertical know-how.

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