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CA introduces new faces

Computer Associates (CA) told Gitex delegates yesterday it has established a direct presence in the Middle East market.

Computer Associates (CA) told Gitex delegates yesterday it has established a direct presence in the Middle East market. Beginning with an office in Dubai, the US software firm will also open offices in Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Cairo. The vendor also opened a call centre in Lebanon on October 1.

CA, which operated through a local partner until earlier this year, also introduced its new management team to those passing by its stand in the Sheik Rashid hall. Leading this line-up is the company’s new vice president and general manager, Gilbert Lacroix.

Although Lacroix is new to CA, those familiar with the local IT market will recognise the espresso loving GM who spent the last 10 years at Intel Middle East. Lacroix left the chip manufacturer as Intel wanted him to return to Europe. However, he believes he still has a lot to offer the region’s IT industry and can help CA establish itself as a serious player in the market.

“I had reached a point where Intel had asked me to move back to Europe and I decided there was still a lot for me to do in the Middle East as this is where I can add value to a company. I have spent 17 years in this part of the world and this is where I can work best,” Lacroix says.

“I received a number of offers, one of which was from CA in the US. The reason I joined is because CA is clearly committed to the region. CA also has a nice portfolio of products that are leading in their particular fields,” he explains.

The quality of CA’s technology has rarely been questioned. However, industry pundits have often wondered about the software company’s ability to effectively market its 1000-plus products.

“I don’t think they [CA’s products] have been promoted or supported at the right level. They are very technical products and CA needs to be directly involved with its partners, and with the customers, with the right level of support,” says Lacroix.

CA’s direct investment in the region will run into millions of dollars. This has been spent not just of offices but also on human resources. The Middle East operation has already past the 50-plus employee mark and Lacroix expects to recruit yet more.

“A company is nothing more than a group of people. We will have the right people and we will invest in them and their training. By doing that we will build trust between our customers and us. Customers need the right product and the right commitment. We have both,” he says.

In terms of products, CA will initially focus on its security, network management and storage solutions. The firm is also reviewing its channel strategy and is currently evaluating both existing and potential partners.

“We are reviewing every partner from zero. None of the existing partners are partners today, although some of them will be. New partners will be introduced and all of them will be certified — and that means a number of people not just one person,” says Lacroix.

While Lacroix and his team evaluate CA’s channel and create a brand new company from scratch, it will have one final issue to address — the fallout from the legal wrangling taking place in the US where the federal grand jury has charged Sanjay Kumar, former chairman and chief executive of CA, with securities fraud and obstruction of justice while also indicting Stephen Richards, the company’s former executive vice president for worldwide sales. Lacroix is confident, however, that this will not derail CA’s plans for the Middle East.

“Customers in the Middle East are very pragmatic. If you show them that you are committed to the region and investing in it, then they believe in you,” he says.

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