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

Vasudevan K.S, director, Global Business, Navo, said the rise of the multi-channels has brought with it major disruptions in the IT channel as all players are grappling to understand how to correctly position their businesses in the mind of the end-user.

Vasudevan said the market is evolving and with social media taking centre stage, consumers are more informed about products and services and where these can be sourced from without any hassles. “In the current market scenario, there is a role for each channel player. Selecting where to buy a product is a matter of convenience but resellers and especially retailers should have the capability to address any concerns a client might have from an experience that started from an online shopping experience,” he said. Vasudevan said clients still need a physical store when it comes to after-sales services and support.

Syed Ibrahim Anwar, managing director, MENA & CIS, at regional distributor acti International, said the diversification that is happening in the Middle East channel as a result of multi-faceted routes to market has its own challenges for the distribution sector. “As most consumers do their research online, it is vital that we as distributors are able to offer terms that make both high street stores and power retailers to want to continue doing business with us. “The overall service experience should be the goal of distributors as they find their own relevance in this changing IT landscape,” he said.

Dr Roger Hage, vice president at Aastra said certainly from a [B2B] perspective, vendors are becoming more client centric and are looking at ways of improving their business communication. “We have been training our channels to not only provide much need pre-sales and technical support, but to also understand the changing market around them,” he said. Hage said through such interactions, partners are able to identify opportunities and tailor them to suit their business goals and offerings.

Panjabi reiterated that in the Middle East, the rise of the multi channel is still in its nascent stage and not at the same level as the more mature markets in Western Europe and North America. “In the US, all online stores are supported by vendors and distributors. In the region, most vendors view e-commerce sites as threats to their traditional channel business,” he said.

He said there is need for all stakeholders in the regional channel to support the multi-faceted routes to the market as not doing so will create a gap between the channel and the end-users it serves.

Cloud managed services

Building value in the market for managed services has proved a challenge for many partners in the region, however, this is an area with significant growth potential. Partners that have taken the long-term outlook on the market, acquired the needed business acumen to add value to the product and solutions they pitch, and continue to remain relevant to their end-user customers are poised to reap the benefits in cloud managed services.

Pierre Olivier Descoteaux, general manager, Cloud Computing, at Aptec – an Ingram Micro company, said Ingram in the US has been building its cloud offerings for the past two years.

Descoteaux said there are three main areas where resellers that want to get involved in reselling cloud manged services should focus on. According to Descoteaux, the areas are: infrastructure as a service (IaaS), business applications as a service and online backup. “We will be implementing the cloud model we have developed in the US through Aptec in the region. We will also be adding local vendors,” he said.

Descoteaux urged resellers to partner with established cloud services providers such as Aptec instead of building the infrastructure from stratch.

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