Heralding change

In spite of the uncertainty about the global economy following the European Union’s Eurozone crisis and the impact of sluggish PC sales in 2012

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Heralding change
By  Clayton Vallabhan Published  January 25, 2013

In spite of the uncertainty about the global economy following the European Union’s Eurozone crisis and the impact of sluggish PC sales in 2012, the channel is upbeat about the outlook in the next 12 months. Industry pundits and senior channel executives predict what 2013 has in store for the Middle East IT channel.

The year 2012 started with the regional IT channel suffering losses as a result of the Arab Spring, and as we progressed through the course of the year, other countries in the region continued to experience political instability.

With Syria, in the much sought-after Levant region going deep into a full-fledged civil war. This was worsened by a new wave of trade and financial sanctions against Iran, which directly affected IT sales for most Dubai-based resellers that depend on the export market for their survival. With the biggest export market closed, the channel had to find a way of developing new markets to keep their businesses afloat.

As 2013 begins, most channel partners have re-strategised and are focusing their attention on entering new markets in Africa and the CIS region. Market conditions are slowly improving in the region, while most players in both the power retail and traditional dealer channels have maintained a cautious approach to doing business because they know that the market will take longer to experience the sort of scale it enjoyed at its peak in mid-2008 prior to the global financial meltdown.

Those that will succeed are partners that have maintained focus, added skills and continue to develop new markets.

Shailendra Rughwani, president, Dubai Computer Group said: “The Market in 2012 was flat due to many reasons, and in spite of new launches like Windows 8 and new CPUs from Intel, the market did not pickup as expected. There are many reasons for this and mostly due to dull regional markets and also during the summer months there was overstocking in the market, which resulted in slower sales. Some other factors could be the increase in demand for tablets and smartphones, which could have affected lower demand for PCs.”

However Rughwani expects 2013 to be a better year for the channel and hopes that markets that were not active in 2012 will contribute to overall business this year.

Experts agree that SMBs are quickly becoming a lucrative part of the overall market. Vendors and resellers that cater to the needs of SMBs are in a good position to cater to a growing segment, and if they can deliver the right goods, market share is theirs for the taking.

Dr. Ali Baghdadi, VP and CEO of Aptec said that he sees smart clients and the tremendous growth rate, along with new forms of consuming and delivering Software as a Service (SaaS) creating new opportunities for the channel. He said: “Private cloud, public cloud services, BYOD [bring your own device], security, virtualisation, storage, BI, unified communications including video, POS and smart solutions for SMBs and enterprise. These are all solution-based deliverables which create many service opportunities.”

Ossama Eldeeb, regional channel sales manager, META, AMD agreed that software as a service was a rising trend and that 2013 will be the year of cloud and virtualisation.

Eldeeb said that this model will push resellers in the channel to evolve and become true consultants. “I believe 2013 will witness a big change in the channel map across the ME where only the ones who are agile enough to integrate in the new world of IT and be able to provide true value to their customers will survive. Some possible migrations, consolidations and acquisitions are sure possible. Also as many IT vendors move towards a Software as a Service model there will be less dependence on the traditional channel.”

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