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.

Tags: Aastra TechnologiesEmirates Integrated Telecommunications Company HPJacky's ElectronicsWestern Digital Corporation
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Guarded optimism at CME conference
By  Manda Banda , Stephen McBride Published  July 18, 2013

Nicholas Argyrides, managing director at regional distributor Empa agreed and said the Middle East region is not the most stable of regions at the moment and not all markets are address by the channel. Argyrides said certain emerging markets like Iraq are still very unstable while the established ones like KSA have been stable and offering growth to resellers that serve the Kingdom.

With some markets in the Middle East under US trade sanctions, it has become important for Dubai-based distributors and their channel partners to comply with the US regulation requirements.

Farida Alkaff, legal counsel and compliance manager, at Aptec – an Ingram Micro company, said distributors and resellers of US-made technology equipment just like vendors are required to follow the same US trade requirements to restricted countries.

Alkaff said many US-based vendors are under pressure to step up awareness campaigns around US trade regulatory requirements to embargoed countries. “There is definitely awareness in the channel. However, what has to be tackled especially by distributors is whether enough due diligence is done to ascertain that products sold to resellers will not end-up in an embargoed country,” she said.

Alkaff said most US-based IT vendors conduct regular workshops on compliance with their authorised distribution partners to raise awareness around the US trade requirements and drive the message to the entire channel community. “There are severe consequences for any company that is authorised to resell American-made IT products and ends up exporting the equipment to an embargoed country,” she said.

Dave Brooke, executive director and general manager, Dell Middle East, agreed and said in terms of the US trade export regulations, there are three countries namely Iran, Syria and Sudan in the Middle East, where sales of American-made goods are banned. “If we know of any products going to these willingly and knowingly, that is typically in breach of export regulations and the impact is significant not only to the vendor or partner but even the individual in many instances is personally liable and is subject to the US law. This is hugely important for anyone in the regional channel to understand,” he said.

Brooke explained that from an industry perspective, if the channel wants to attract new vendors to the Middle East, the compliance profile of the industry end-to-end is a significant part of whether the region can draw new IT investments to build on the existing ventures here. “If we believe that this is the right thing, we have to be compliant as an industry and it is not about one individual, it’s not about vendors, partners or distributors, it’s about the industry,” he reiterated.

Multi-channels

With the expanding routes to market, vendors and distributors are always looking for ways to maximise their reach to the partner base.

Ashish Panjabi, COO, Jacky’s Electronics, said with the emergence of online stores, it has become imperative for those involved in the IT supply chain to not only understand these various options available to customers, but identify appropriate channels to reach out. Panjabi said in the Middle East, the concept of online stores complementing offline ones has not full matured as most online stores compete purely on price rather than the overall customer experience and service. “This has to be complementary as not everything that end-users want will be bought online,” he said.

Panjabi said products that are already known to consumers will be bought through online channels while those that require some deeper understanding will always compel consumers to visit offline stores in form of retail outlets, showrooms or high street stores.

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