Guarded optimism at CME conference

The second Channel Middle East Conference held in Dubai recently examined business growth prospects and the need for innovation in the regional channel as the business climate improves.

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Guarded optimism at CME conference
By  Manda Banda , Stephen McBride Published  July 18, 2013

The second Channel Middle East Conference held in Dubai recently examined business growth prospects and the need for innovation in the regional channel as the business climate improves.

Executives from across the Middle East IT channel gathered at the Ritz Carlton, DIFC, Dubai, for the second Channel Middle East conference.

Representatives from industry names such as Jacky’s Electronics, Emax, Aptec, Aastra, eHosting DataFort, Acer and Kaspersky Lab took to the stage to delve into channel-specific topics such as export headaches, cloud managed services and the consumerisation of IT.

But despite the discussions on challenges and pitfalls, the underlying message was guarded optimism, as the channel takes to its feet following post-crunch leanness.

“[The Middle East IT channel] has had an excellent five months,” said Meera Kaul, managing director, Optimus Technology & Telecom, in her keynote address, The State of the Channel.

“Almost all the projects that were shelved last year have been inked. Small- to medium-sized companies have [regained] their confidence in the economy, and that sentiment is priceless.”

Kaul noted that close to 70% of CIOs have indicated they will be increasing IT spend this year and while live SMS polls conducted by Channel Middle East at the event suggested a reticence in the channel towards all-out celebration, most expected to see some sort of growth in the coming months.

Kaul was more buoyant: “This kind of growth is the kind of growth we saw before the financial crisis. The UAE is possibly seeing better revenues and better traction in IT projects being awarded than even the bigger economies such as Saudi Arabia.”

A large part of the renewed swell has been brought about by GCC governments as they expand infrastructure around e-Government delivery, LTE network expansion and IT security in response to last summer’s wave of high-profile cyber attacks. The private sector’s activities have also been a boon to open source vendors and their channel partners as governments consider ways to shave costs.

The regional shift, not only in the public sector but in SMEs and enterprises, from bare metal setups to managed services, has led to a boom in the channel for segments such as storage and virtualisation.

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