Year in review

Channel Middle East takes a look at major events that dictated, shaped and typified the Middle East IT channel in 2013.

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Year in review
By  Manda Banda Published  December 26, 2013

Channel Middle East takes a look at major events that dictated, shaped and typified the Middle East IT channel in 2013.

Each year, Channel Middle East looks at events that shaped and made an impact on the regional IT channel. The year 2013 has come and gone. Even though the year started with industry pundits expressing a lot of confidence about increased IT spending this year, it is events that unfolded during the course of the year and were exacerbated by the decline in PC hardware sales in the first three quarters, that dampened the gains that the industry made in 2012.

The past 12 months were also marked by an ever-accelerating pace of technology innovation from next-generation smartphones and tablets to mind-bending breakthroughs in cloud computing, virtualisation and networking. It was also a year that saw soaring big data technology investments, propelled by the social networking revolution. A record number of systems integrators in the region added new mobile, cloud, virtualisation and networking services, and products to their portfolios.

As pointed out, the year 2013 was also a year in which the technology and business transformation propelled by advances in cloud computing, virtualisation, networking and mobility made it more critical than ever for channel executives and organisations to step up with game-changing contributions to the wellbeing of their businesses.

Apart from that,  for most of 2013, the narrative of the global PC industry has been on the verge of becoming a bloody horror story. But the bleeding has finally slowed, based on the latest figures from analyst and research firm IDC, which stated that PC shipments in Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) declined 16%, reaching 21.4m units in the third quarter of 2013. The IDC report revealed that the market contracted less than in the previous quarter, supported by improving commercial demand, while macroeconomic and political factors affected sub regions in different ways.

Aside from the slowdown in global PC sales, the Middle East region has continued to witness instability in some countries like Egypt and Syria, where internal civil unrest has increased as the year has progressed. With Syria, the civil war has continued two years after the Arab Spring started and there seems to be no end in sight casting further doubt on the overall business outlook for the Levant region. Closer to the GCC region, Iraq has remained unstable and security remains a big concern for IT companies that want to establish presence in that country.

Despite all these challenges the Middle East continues to be one of the fastest growing markets for IT and has one of the highest mobile phone penetration rates.

Indeed PC sales have slowed down, but the regional channel has been reaping the benefits of a surge in mobile devices that include tablets and smartphones. In fact, many are still upbeat and are gearing up for a resurgence of desktop PCs and notebooks as the commercial segment readies to upgrade from Windows XP, which Microsoft will not support after April 2014. This improving commercial demand will have a knock on effect on not only PC sales, but will also improve the business outlook for the components sector, which has posted gloomy numbers because of the declining PC sales.

Like every other business, remaining profitable and healthy requires stability, focus, adjustment, innovation and continuously redefining strategy. So as part of the ongoing agenda channel stakeholders are constantly monitoring and measuring trends they believe will impact them in one way or the other.

Traditionally, resellers in the Middle East have delivered products that have been sold in a resale type transaction. But with the advent of cloud computing and most services being offered via the cloud, the typical reselling business is changing as businesses look for ways to drive down their CAPEX on IT infrastructure.

Partners that have continued to invest and innovate by adding more value to the products and solutions they take to market despite operating in a tough business environment, can look forward to 2014 with optimism and take a stance that things will get better in the year ahead.

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