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Columbus sets sail for Qatar

ISV and reseller of Microsoft Dynamics solutions, Columbus IT, is poised to establish an office in Qatar.

ISV and reseller of Microsoft Dynamics solutions, Columbus IT, is poised to establish an office in Qatar. The move comes as the firm also revealed it is considering entering the Turkish market.

The company is currently finalising a joint venture with a large Qatari business group, which will lead to the establishment of Columbus IT Qatar. Plans are already in place for a senior management figure from the integrator's Dubai office to head the new operation when it is launched later this quarter.

"Qatar is a growing market with a lot of potential and there is plenty of interest in IT there," said Manjeet Singh, managing director at Columbus IT Middle East. "New companies are being founded there on an almost daily basis and the government is actually in a big spending mode."

The company believes there is a gap in the market for a number of Microsoft-based vertical software solutions that it provides and will mark its arrival in Qatar by targeting customers in the property, retail and manufacturing sectors. "There is a dearth of solutions for property and since we cover it end-to-end, from front facing solutions like CRM up to the back-office, I think it should be of interest to people," said Singh, adding that the same was also true of the retail and manufacturing verticals.

50-strong Columbus IT Middle East is one of the largest Microsoft Dynamics partners in the region and claims the vendor has welcomed its plans to establish a subsidiary in Qatar. "They were looking for strong and focused international partners to come to Qatar and since we only do Microsoft Dynamics they are very happy to have us there," insisted Singh. "And secondly, we have vertical solutions that were not available with some other partners. Microsoft Dynamics sees us as an answer to Oracle and SAP because Oracle had the biggest market share in the Qatar market and there was no strong partner that could stand up to it. I think with us moving in there we can target the enterprise segment and upper midmarket."

The Qatari operation will represent Columbus IT's sixth office in the region after it opened a sales and marketing facility in Abu Dhabi last month. The firm also has offices in Dubai, Bahrain and two in Saudi, which were inherited as the part of the venture with Algosaibi Information Systems (AGIS) that brought Denmark-based Columbus IT into the region two years ago.

Singh says the move into Qatar is part of a wider strategy aimed at broadening the Navision and Axapta specialist's presence in the region. "We are also looking at some other markets, including Turkey," he revealed. "We have been studying this market internally for some time. One of the options is to go in there directly and the other is a small acquisition. We have not yet made a final decision about how the organisation will be structured, but we are all convinced about the potential of the Turkish market."

Copenhagen-listed Columbus IT, which employs more than 950 professionals around the globe, made a profit of US$4m on sales of US$140m last year.

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