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CHANNEL CONFERENCE: State of the Channel

KEYNOTE ADDRESS: Al Masa’s Roger El Tawil warns against complacency as 2015 predicted to be bumper year

CHANNEL CONFERENCE: State of the Channel
El Tawil: Stop for a minute, look at what you’re doing, evaluate your readiness and take action.

As the Channel Conference 2014 got underway, keynote speaker Roger El Tawil, executive director, Al Masa Value Distribution, hailed the positive atmosphere prevalent in the channel, as the IT industry approaches 2015, but warned against complacency.

El Tawil looked back on the challenging climate of recent years as he delivered his address, The State of the Regional Channel at the Ritz Carlton, DIFC.

"We woke up in 2010, and the reality hit and everything hit the wall," he recalled. "Businesses dropped almost 50%, projects were stopped and budgets were slashed. Everything just stopped."

The following years were hard on channel players as purse strings were mercilessly tightened.

"We all went into survival mode and started looking at new opportunities outside the region," El Tawil said.

As projects shut down, El Tawil noted that the hospitality sector was one of the only industries that was "still ticking". Even as 2012 rolled in, the channel was still trying to survive while the MEP sector started insourcing infrastructure projects and becoming systems integrators themselves.

Recovery started in 2013, with confidence picking up in H2 after some previously paused projects came back online, while budgets were still strained and margins were still slim.

"As you know, at the end of 2013, [World Expo] 2020 was announced and a lot of hype started coming in to the region," said El Tawil.

"Everyone I talk to is very confident about 2015 and they're looking at [approximately] double-digit growth. But I personally think we're only going to see this in the second half, because all these projects have just launched, but until we start seeing the revenues, we will not see a spike."

El Tawil, however, pointed to a number of challenges facing channel players amid the widespread optimism. In particular he said businesses needed to rethink their financial management and work hard to acquire and retain talent.

El Tawil left delegates with these thoughts: "Sometimes we are too occupied with the rat race, but stop for a minute, look at what you're doing, evaluate your readiness and take action."

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