Adobe rebuilds distribution model in MEA

Former AMD channel executive, Abdallah Saqqa, took over as general manager of Adobe Middle East this time last year and quickly came to one conclusion: that the design software company’s regional distribution strategy was in desperate need of an overhaul.

Tags: Adobe Systems IncorporatedAptec DistributionLogicom DubaiMindware
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Adobe rebuilds distribution model in MEA
By  Andrew Seymour Published  September 8, 2010

CME: Adobe recently appointed Logicom as a distributor for the entire region and Mindware for Saudi Arabia. Why the shake-up of your distribution model?

AS: Shortly after joining Adobe [in June last year] I realised that the majority of the business was really happening in the UAE - in Dubai particularly - and there was absolutely no on-the-ground focus anywhere else, especially Saudi Arabia. Saudi is really not a market that you can even think of ignoring or servicing remotely, it just doesn’t work. So I realised there was an urgency to fix this kind of gap and we began work on restructuring the whole distribution network.

CME: Mindware’s contract is just for KSA. What will it bring to the table?

AS: It is well established with a good, solid reseller network. We rely a lot on resellers to conduct the business and transactions before the product reaches the end-customer. The appointment gives us the right balance in Saudi Arabia because, whether we like it or not, it is the single biggest country in the region.

CME: And what about Logicom?

AS: Logicom is playing more of a broader role, which fits perfectly with its model because it has a strong presence in many countries in the region. The likes of Qatar, Oman and Bahrain are smaller countries, but they offer really good potential, especially at the government and enterprise levels. You can add Jordan and Lebanon to that list as well because Logicom is very established in those markets too.

CME: Adobe employed Grapheast as its primary channel partner in the region for many years. What is the situation with that relationship?

AS: We work with Grapheast as well. Grapheast is a partner which has been there for seven or eight years, so it is a real expert in the business. Grapheast has the expertise and the arm to add value during the sales cycle. This is something it is very good at doing and it has built it up throughout the history it has had with Adobe. Its focus on Adobe is tremendous - it is one of the main lines of business it runs in the company, and for us and for them Adobe’s success is critical.

CME: One of the casualties of your shake-up was Aptec. Why are you no longer working with them?

AS: Aptec is a distributor we all respect. I realised shortly after I started working with them that it wouldn’t make sense for both sides to continue because the objectives I am looking at and the role I am looking for my distributors to play at this stage is not really something that fits their profile. It has nothing to do with Aptec’s capabilities - we all know how big Aptec is and how great they are doing for other vendors, but at this stage it didn’t really make sense for both sides.

CME: So what do the new partners offer you that Aptec didn’t?

AS: The on-the-ground focus really. The focus and attention we are getting from Mindware in Saudi Arabia, for example, is amazing. They are literally doing no business for Adobe anywhere else, so Saudi Arabia is their bread and butter. They have absolutely no choice but to make it work there and this is what I really wanted. It makes perfect sense because there is huge potential to capture, but you need a focused partner. I wasn’t really able to make this happen with the previous players. This is really why we have had to come up with new players and new blood from a distribution perspective.

CME: Is there a danger that the restructuring could lead to you becoming over-distributed?

AS: The whole objective behind this exercise and the partner mix we have today is really aimed at growing the pie rather than sharing the pie. I really want to grow the size of the business that we have in the region and once your pie is growing you’ll have absolutely no worries whatsoever of partners or resellers running away. They will always want to be a part of it and that is really what we are trying to put in place. We are not there yet, but at least we are on the right track.

CME: Are there more changes ahead, or is that it for now?

AS: The more your business grows, the more that new dynamics kick in and you will have to reconsider if things make sense, but the intention is not to keep making changes. If things continue to go as planned then I think we should be good to go with this model for the next couple of years. If something new comes up that we need to adapt to or react to then we are flexible enough to consider changes, but whatever happens is going to be in line with what makes sense for partners.

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