A disguised opportunity

Why the economic slowdown gives the property industry valuable time to reconsider decisions and brush up processes.

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By  Sathya Mithra Ashok Published  November 26, 2008

This month will probably be remembered as the period when the Middle East’s property sector nearly collapsed.

As the crisis deepens globally, and real estate investments from outside the region dry up, firms in the Middle East are scrambling to make good as soon as possible. The news everyday is of construction projects that have been stopped midway, major firms scrambling to merge and consolidate in order to be stronger, and scores of employees being passed out redundancy slips.

While some believe that this is just the necessary ‘balancing out’ that the sector needed, others think that it has truly been a bloodbath. And most think that it is going to get much worse, before it gets any better.

Things have not been nearly as bad in the information technology market, but most industry stakeholders seem to be holding their collective breaths, waiting for the storm to hit. And our articles this month reflect that.

For this, the last issue of 2008, we at NME decided to look back at how the past twelve months could have been different for IT managers and teams.

In keeping with this, our features pay attention to the changes that have occurred across enterprise local area networks, data centres and security – arguably, three of the biggest investment areas across the region.

The prevailing tone across all articles is that of caution, an attitude of wait and watch.

Most stakeholders believe that the first half of 2009 just might pass without mutter. However, the second half will see a large number of IT projects being cancelled. The hardest hit in the industry will be the small companies, and the ones that set up offices in the region less than a year back.

This is what most state. The absolute truth, though, might be that nobody really knows what is going to happen, and which way the tide is going to turn.

Is the IT industry going to be as hard hit as the banking and construction industries? Will we witness a situation where many companies leave the region? Or, is the crisis going to pass by, just grazing the regional technology industry, but causing no major damage?

The eventual state of the industry might depend on how long the financial hard times persist. If, as some analysts (in what might sound like a desperate bid) state, the crisis eases by the end of 2009, then the regional IT industry will be spared. However, if it does continue in strength into 2010, then it has the potential to cause some serious harm.

All enterprises and vendors can do right now is buck down, and wait it out for the first half of 2009. There might be nothing that any company can do to make the situation better or worse, except pull together and brush up on its collective productivity.

The best way to get through this slowdown, whether it is short or long, is to know that it gives us time to reconsider decisions, brush up on processes, and make ourselves better as an industry to ride the good time when it, inevitably, comes around.

It is an opportunity, however well disguised it might be. Let us use it as such.

3222 days ago
Zamir Uddin

Coming into this downturn, the set of issues surrounding IT investment is a lot more complicated than in any previous time. The natural reaction of companies as you go in to a recession is to do whatever they need to in order to reduce expenses. And historically, one of the easiest things to attack from an expenses point of view is IT.

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