Carving a niche in KSA

Sonicwall’s Shahnawaz Sheikh on why vendors are placing so much stock in the Kingdom’s IT market

Tags: Saudi ArabiaSonicWALL Incorporated
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Carving a niche in KSA
By  Shahnawaz Sheikh Published  May 19, 2011

Sonicwall’s Shahnawaz Sheikh on why vendors are placing so much stock in the Kingdom’s IT market, and why the premium brands aren’t necessarily walking away with the market.

Research reports state that Saudi Arabia has the biggest information technology market in the Gulf region, with a forecast value of US$3.6 billion in 2011 expected to rise to US$4.9 billion by 2014. The country will continue to be a lucrative market for technology products and services over the forecast period as it invests to upgrade its IT and communications infrastructure.

This is just one of the reasons Sonicwall has decided to bolster its presence and activities in the country. Having had a presence in Saudi Arabia since 2004, we have witnessed a strong share of growth and partnerships.

Creating a niche in a competitive market was not an easy task. However, it was marketing persistence and great product offerings that changed the market share figures for Sonicwall. We believed in our technology and in partnering with the most appropriate companies in order to best reach out to the market, at the right time. With the right product knowledge and an aggressive sales plan based on real market needs, we, along with our partners, gained a substantial share of the market and are looking to take a leadership position in that space. Doing business in Saudi Arabia requires building strategic relationships and references. This was one of the prime factors that shaped our growth in the country.

When we launched in KSA, we anticipated that Riyadh will do better based on the sheer business volume and the string presence of government agencies departments and ministries. In reality however, Jeddah performed better, The aggressive awareness activities across the region made companies realise, it is not the most expensive product that provides the best solution. There are cost-effective solutions providers like Sonicwall, not just from the price point of view, but technology edge, ease of use and ease of management.

It was also essential to understand the working of the Saudi market. The Saudi market is that it is a volatile market as attrition rate is high. Hence, organisations are looking for a product that is easy to use and manage wherein there is no extra cost for training. The last year witnessed a lot more of training and certification, in addition to taking on new partners. This resulted in a good market performance. Riyadh has also been showing great progress. It is an important market for us as it has huge potential and opportunities.

The focus last year was also to develop existing channels, especially for partners already and how best could Sonicwall scale our presence either through selling all solutions or addressing various verticals in the market. This was addressed through series of training and meetings with partners. The post-results showed Jeddah’s performance at a significant level along with the Western province especially signing off large deals.

We presented our solutions to the growing medium and enterprise market. The economic crisis worked to their advantage, as post recession, companies were looking for more cost-effective solutions. They were comparing products and realised that the cost of renewal for competitive solutions are high wherein in the same cost, companies could acquire a product like Sonicwall, wherein the renewal would be reduced by approximately one fourth. This changed the perception of the market and worked in the favour of Sonicwall, especially with large organisations.

However, the need of the hour was cost-effective solutions apart from just brand names. Organisations in the region realised the availability of equivalent products in the market. The relevance of premium products was slowly fading away and that gave vendors like Sonicwall an opportunity to go and acquire the large customers, who invested in premium products. We will be placing more emphasis on training in order to further empower our partners in Riyadh. The market size is big and there is spend potential.

Shahnawaz Sheikh is regional director of Sonicwall Middle East and Africa and Turkey.

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