Companies to watch

Channel Middle East takes a look at companies that it believes will help keep things alive in the regional channel in 2012.

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Companies to watch Hewlett Packard has continued on the innovation path and Salim will in 2012 be focusing on business areas that generate the best return.
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By  Manda Banda Published  March 6, 2012

Channel Middle East takes a look at companies that it believes will help keep things alive in the regional channel in 2012.

Many in the Middle East IT reseller channel are happy to have closed the door on 2011, a year hallmarked by tightened budgets, long sales cycles, uncertainty in the market and a spate of reseller runaways in Dubai. Channel Middle East was right there to bring you these events. As the channel starts 2012, we look at companies worth watching in 2012. Some on the list are already poised to provide big growth opportunities for partners across the Middle East region. Others are in the spotlight because they have something to prove. Either way, these companies are the notables that will help keep things interesting in the coming year.

Hewlett Packard

PC powerhouse HP has continued on the path of technology innovation. In 2011, the company acquired UK software vendor Autonomy in a deal that industry pundits said would boost its data analytics, cloud and workflow management offerings and help its customers manage the ever-increasing volumes of data. Last year also saw transformation in the IT sector take centre stage. The regional IT industry witnessed significant product and service innovation and HP hopes to continue on this path this year.

As the market has evolved and stabilised over the last two years, with consumers demanding more lifestyle innovations and integration with the PC, HP will in 2012 bring more innovation and excitement for customers and partners alike. The vendor is looking to boost its services offerings. As one of the biggest hardware partners of Microsoft, HP sees Microsoft’s introduction of Windows 8 as vendor believes the release will further accelerate the demand for tablets because of its touchscreen technology capabilities.

From a sector perspective, HP is expecting new demand and growth in education, healthcare, banking and financial services. There has been an increase in investment in education with universities and schools looking for more effective technologies to support the learning and teaching processes in the region.

Going forward, HP is moving towards a more relationship-driven model in order to drive its ‘Customers for Life’ strategy. This includes everything from customer input on product designs, customer feedback on features and its products offerings. Another focus will be on channel partners as they are the direct interface between the product and consumer. HP will continue to work and push for closer ties with partners in the Middle East. HP knows that it can’t succeed in the market without its channels.

Optimus Technology

Optimus Technology and Telecommunications’ solid portfolio of vendors and focus on both IT and the telecommunication sectors, has helped the company to maintain solid growth throughout 2011. The regional value added distributor (VAD) has continued to deliver strong support for all its vendor partners across the Middle East region. In the last two year, Optimus has continued to strengthen it product portfolio by signing distribution partnerships with vendors that have best-in-class IT and telecommunications solutions.

In addition to providing better channel support and strengthening its portfolio offerings, Optimus launched a new loyalty programme for channel partners in the Middle East region in 2011. Dubbed Wafa, the programme enables partners to earn points for their transactions with Optimus. Through this loyalty incentive scheme, channel partners in the region are able to earn and redeem the accumulated points for conducting business with Optimus. Meera Kaul, managing director, Optimus Technology and Telecommunications continues to lead the company on a steady growth path. It’s her vision that Optimus continues to soldier on in supplying the latest technological advancements, product and business innovations. Kaul wants to see more people embrace technology as a key part of their lives and it’s up to the Optimus team to ensure that this goal is attained in the Middle East region.

Lenovo

Over the past three years, Lenovo has spent most of the time refining its channel strategy while enhancing its product offering. A key defining moment after the vendor acquired IBM’s PC Division came in 2010 when it kicked off the year with a bang, using the Consumer Electronics Show in the US as the platform from which to launch a slew of new desktops and laptops, led by its innovative IdeaPad U1, a hybrid notebook-tablet PC. But in addition to the fresh lineup, which the company is positioning for crossover into the SMB, Lenovo has continued to grow its global PC market share at the expense of its closest rival Acer and in Q2 2011 was in third place with a 12.2% global market share according to IDC. The vendor which inherited the prestigious ThinkPad brand has also pledged a big increase in channel investment this year as it works to gain further market share against rivals in the PC segment.

Jack Lee, corporate vice president, Lenovo Middle East and Africa (MEA) has focused the company’s effort on ramping up brand awareness activities. Lenovo’s decision to split the MEA market seems to have yielded huge dividends as the company has brought more focus and targeted channel initiatives to its partners programme.

Comguard

Regional security solutions VAD Comguard is preparing itself for the next wave of distribution that the company describes will change the way it engages with the channel ecosystem. Comguard’s position as a specialist security VAD has undoubtedly helped it to maintain a steady flow and growth of business. With an established partner ecosystem that comprises VARs, system integrators, solution providers and resellers, Comguard is looking to expand its footprint in the regional channel market place.

At the centre of the company’s push into the region has been Mohammad Mobasseri, senior vice president, who has been in the forefront of spearheading the company’s channel schemes as the distributor moulds its VAD model. The company has been expanding its geographical reach in the Middle East, Levant and Western Asia, although the Middle East remains the main focal point for its security offerings.

Mobasseri is of the view that the industry needs to explain more to customers why IT services form an important aspect of the hardware and software offerings, and Comguard will be looking forward to engaging its partners on this in 2012. The distributor wants the Middle East IT market to do more to raise IT services awareness in the consumer and business sector.

Aside from the services push, partners will be delighted to know that the Comguard has started distribution operations into India despite it having an office there for a while. The company is attempting to make India as one of the top markets for Comguard given the sheer size of the country and opportunities in that market.

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