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Channel relationships key to Middle East success

Sponsors of the 2010 CME Awards highlight the importance of winning partnerships

Channel relationships key to Middle East success
The Channel Middle East Awards take place on Monday 22nd March at The Address, Dubai Marina.

Proactive partnerships between vendors and channel partners hold the key to ensuring the healthy development of the Middle East IT market - that's the view of the principal sponsors behind this year's Channel Middle East Awards.

A number of prestigious industry names have been confirmed as sponsors for the forthcoming Channel Awards, including HP as the exclusive Platinum sponsor, and Metra, Redington and Xerox as Gold sponsors. Digilink Middle East, Golden Systems Middle East, Meru Networks, Promate, RAS Infotech and SonicWALL have been confirmed as Silver sponsors.

While all of the sponsors operate in different sectors of the market, they each recognise the role that a strong partnering strategy plays in their business.

HP, which works with several thousand partners across the region, continues to invest heavily in its channel, according to Sandra Hava, channel and enterprise marketing manager at HP's Imaging and Printing Group.

"We now have more channel account managers and channel programmes than ever before and we are, without a doubt, stronger for it," she said. "HP continuously develops its range of partner programmes to ensure that our channel partners remain competitive and successful despite the challenges in the market."

Printer vendor Xerox believes it is important for vendors and partners to establish the obligations of each party and deliver on those commitments.

"This could be good cash management, true value add from both sides, an understanding that training and knowledge is key or a desire to promote the channel to customers. It is all down to open relationships and open and honest dialogue," explained Dan Smith, general manager for integrated marketing for the Middle East and Africa region of Xerox's developing markets operations.

Given the challenges that have faced the market during the past year, Golden Systems Middle East believes it is time for channel players to reassess their priorities.

"There are a few major areas that both vendors and their channel partners should focus on," advised COO Ehsan Hashemi. "Profitability of the channel is one of the key steps in maintaining a healthy distribution network. Improving after-sales service is another area that can boost customer confidence."

The Channel Awards will honour some of the most outstanding examples of achievement in the Middle East IT market during the past year. Shahnawaz Sheikh, regional sales manager at SonicWALL, believes it is important to recognise the efforts of the channel in promoting and supporting customers in the region.

"They are the trusted advisors to their customers and are instrumental in bridging their customers' needs with the best product or solution available," he said.

Network security distributor RAS Infotech endorses that view. "We sincerely believe that the channel partner network is indispensable for promoting visibility, reach and positioning of the product portfolio to the end-user segment," said channel manager Syed Ali Sufyan. "The channel plays a crucial role in laying the foundation and building market share, hence it becomes imperative on our part to recognise the same."

Structure cabling solutions provider Digilink Middle East is using the Channel Awards to strengthen awareness of its brand as it looks to drive regional channel relationships.

"Digilink's global focus this year is primarily on the Middle East and Asia Pacific markets," explained Arati Naik, business development manager for global markets at the company. "Our aspiration is to grow our export business by at least 50% in the current financial year. We are planning to strengthen our ties with our existing partners and induct more partners in the Middle East." 

Yasir Alkaar, general manager of Promate, is adamant that the Middle East market has a bright future, providing vendors, distributors and resellers don't lose sight of their core principles.

"We should all ensure accountability and continue to build successful partnerships that can take our booming industry to the next level," he said. "This is an evolving industry in a very promising market. For both vendors and channel partners there is much further potential to be capitalised."

For Meru Networks, the event will provide a platform for it to reinforce its channel-focused strategy, according to regional sales director Zakir Lokare.

"We believe the key principles which drive strong channel partnerships are having products that fulfill business needs, aligning with the right partners, and extending complete support to the partners in terms of generating demanding and fulfilling it," he explained.

The Channel Middle East Awards take place on Monday 22nd March at The Address, Dubai Marina.

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