Harvesting the Levant

The IT market in the Levant region has continued to grow and is crucial for vendors to team up with channel partners in the region

Tags: ComguardFVC - First Video Communications IncorporationGFI SoftwareIraqJordanLebanonLogicom PublicSyria
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Harvesting the Levant
By  Clayton Vallabhan Published  December 6, 2012

The IT market in the Levant region has continued to grow and is crucial for vendors to team up with channel partners in the region. Competition is set to intensify over the next few years as more resellers and IT multinationals join the market. So what does it take to succeed in this region?

Countries in the Levant region have been significantly affected by political instability over the last year. This has led to the economy slowing down and the IT market being severely affected. The channel has seen relationships strain over revised payment terms and the inability to move IT products. Besides all these factors, there is a growing window of opportunity as the IT market has bounced back with a vengeance. With competition set to intensify over the next few months, the Levant is showing the world that it is on the road to recovery.

Toni Azzi, regional manager, North Africa & Levant, Logicom Public said: “Logicom has had to make a number of changes to reposition itself in a tough market and maintain the strength of its presence. We have sought to raise market shares with all our key vendors in order to compensate for the drop in overall business. At the same time we have looked to grow in Iraq where we have now registered our legal entity, are in the process of recruiting and are addressing opportunities in North Africa with account management from Beirut.”

John Spoor, regional director, MEA, GFI Software, said this year has been fantastic for GFI,  as the company reported triple digit growth. He said: “The Levant region in general and in particular Lebanon, has been a strong market for GFI Software in 2012.  We are working closely with partners to conduct training and organise events to showcase our new portfolio of solutions that are specifically tailored to the 1,000 users and below market.”

Mohammad Mobasseri, senior VP, Comguard, said the Levant has not been an important part of the company’s marketing strategy before, but it is now seeing promising growth in the region. This has made the company revisit its plans to include increasing its presence in the region.

According to Azzi, customers in the Levant region are always looking for brands with a good image and reputation. “The positioning of each brand along with its distribution channels affects directly the results in this region. On the other hand, customers expect fast delivery of the goods and credit terms from existing distributors which give a major advantage for distributors having in-country operations such as Logicom,” said Azzi.

Commenting about business in the region, Azzi added: “Logicom, through its direct presence in the Levant region, was able to cover the entire channel including System Integrators, corporate / SMB resellers, retailers and system builders. Logicom is currently transacting on monthly basis with around 750 resellers in the Levant Region. In the last couple of years, we have seen an important growth of the retail segment for all consumer goods which shows a trend of shifting the purchasing behaviour of the end customers from the computer resellers to the big retail stores. To keep up with the market’s needs, Logicom now has a dedicated retail unit, and it’s main focus is on growing its presence in this segment by employing specialised resources and enhancing Logicom’s retail products portfolio.”

Mobasseri is confident that on-premise solutions are in high demand, especially in the IT Security space. He said that Comguard has received requests for training services and seen substantial investments committed to training.

According to Mobasseri, the retail market in Levant is not particularly strong, however, resellers do better. He said: “We have observed the retail market in Levant is not as strong as their reseller channel.  The fact of the matter is that it doesn’t matter if we have a large pool of resellers. What really counts is how many are active to contribute to the business in the region. The conversion ratio does really make a difference. We are seeing a positive intent, working through, inspiring the reseller channel to support our initiatives. We are seeing some developments taking shape and this should reflect in a significant jump in our business.”

Ronald Hajj, GM, FVC says that political instability has slowed down the market, however, by monitoring the needs of the customer and ensuring the right solutions are present, these challenges can be combated.

He further added: “The Levant region is constantly battling an infrastructure and bandwidth challenge. This sees a higher demand for network security, and bandwidth monitoring and management, with companies like iPoque that have seen sizeable growth in the region. The private sector is slowly driving the overall IT growth in the region. Despite public demand, politics is restricting public and government investment in IT and infrastructure in the region.”

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