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

Kaul also made mention of an increase in demand for analytics, but took care to point out that this did not mean big data.

“[The Middle East IT channel] is not really doing big data or Hadoop yet; what we are doing is real-time analytics,” she explained. “There are a couple of vendors in the market that have come up with product portfolios for small business and enterprise.”

The restored activity in the channel is attracting new players. Kaul observed that a number of international vendors have toured the region, holding meetings with prospective partners, but she also pointed out that vendors are starting to notice a requirement in the channel for pre-defined partnership programmes to be phased out in favour of more flexible schemes.

Security has had a big year and is expected to grow further, given the perceived threat level in the region, but Kaul stressed the ongoing issue of the skills gap that has plagued this niche business.

“Security has always been big; the more infrastructure we develop, the more data we [create], the more network security will become truly essential,” said Kaul. “There is a huge play for the channel in these sectors.

“[But] the channel has to step up not only in terms of products and services, but also in terms of skill sets. One problem [in the security segment] has always been that regulation and implementation, in terms of the skill set, never match.”

Devices, and the ballooning demand for them and the apps they host, has led to a culture that is by now familiar to all: that of “bring your own device” (BYOD). The channel, Kaul urged, needs to act quickly to be ready for the shift of this area to B2B.

“Work is no longer a location; work is an activity,” she said. “We are surrounded by 350m connected individuals [in the GCC]. More than 50% of people in the Gulf own smartphones. We need to look at the potential of what we have around us.”

Export business

With some parts of the Middle East experiencing political and economic upheaval over the last two years, this session discussed ways on how resellers can develop and build their export markets by strategising on the risks and rewards of different geographic markets.

Shailendra Rughwani, president, Dubai Computer Group (DCG), said from what the members are telling the association, a lot of the markets in the region have either closed because of the prevailing US trade embargo or business has slowed down. Rughwani said this has compelled many to explore opportunities in other regions like Africa and the CIS. “Africa continues to offer opportunities to Dubai-based resellers,” he said.

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