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Microsoft says diversity of ME market is a challenge

Microsoft’s first Tech.Ed technical education and networking conference kicks off in Dubai

Microsoft says diversity of ME market is a challenge
Ali Faramawy, vice president, Microsoft International.

The Middle East, which has often been recognised together with Africa as one of the fastest growing regions for Microsoft worldwide, is not without its own set of challenges, says the vice president of Microsoft International Ali Faramawy.

Faramawy, who was present at Microsoft's largest technical education and networking conference Tech.Ed taking place in the Middle East for the first time this year, said the company faced challenges "every day" in the region .

"The region is pretty large and you always want to provide a high level of service consistently across to every customer and to every partner, regardless of the size of Microsoft's business there. Whether we have 5 people or 500 people in a country, you want the similar level of customer experience, and that's one of the biggest challenges," Faramawy explained.

He also pointed out that supporting local partners was a key focus along with changing existing perceptions of spending on software.

"We're on a journey to make sure we can help skill partners and local software and service providers in every country. In some places, some people still consider spending on software as an expenditure versus an investment so in many cases we have to help and work with our software partners and services partners and opinion leaders and academia to help change these perspectives," stated Faramawy.

Things are not quite bleak however since the Middle East and Africa has been one of the fastest growing regions for Microsoft's business worldwide for a number of years now, catering to a diverse geography and more than a billion people.

According to Faramawy, even the global economic downturn last year hadn't hampered local growth and operations to a great extent.

"Obviously there was a decline in spending on ICT on a worldwide level and the Middle East and Africa was certainly one of the markets where the pace of spending on information technology was slowed down....but from a Microsoft point of view, it was a pretty good year overall and it was a year where we witnessed growth."

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