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Thu 16 Oct 2008 02:35 PM

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A little more conversation

Dialogue should never be underestimated in an industry where partnerships remain fundamental for progress.

All eyes will be on the Middle East ICT market over the next seven days as the latest installment of the region’s largest technology trade exhibition opens its doors. But what can the regional channel expect to take away from this year’s IT bonanza?

Return on investment has become a well-worn phrase when it comes to shows such as GITEX — particularly among companies that regard revenue generation as their primary basis for involvement. But while there are those who fondly remember the days when transactions actually took place at the stands and booths, most have come to measure the success of their participation on additional criteria, expectant that more business will result further down the line.

Judging by the list of exhibitors this year, the halls of the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre look set to be packed with plenty of established distributors, resellers and systems integrators once again.

The majority of these will use the week to display the richness of their offering and give existing and prospective customers a taste of what they can deliver. Given the rising level of competition in the region — I know of at least two systems integrators launching at the show and there are certain to be more — it is clear that the call for channel companies to show customers what differentiates them from the opposition is growing louder by the day.

The power of dialogue should never be underestimated in an industry where partnerships remain fundamental for progress, which is why GITEX promises to serve as an ideal vehicle for channel players to reinforce their customer messages.

It is evident from the glut of pre-show announcements that partnerships and alliances represent the primary motivation for many companies’ attendance at the show. Numerous vendors are setting out to widen their partner network, not just in the UAE but elsewhere in the region, and with so many ISVs and vertical market specialists poised to be present it is a perfect opportunity for the first-tier channel to explore potential tie-ups.

The fact that companies which have declined to exhibit at GITEX still endeavour to retain an association with the event by holding nearby partner meetings or arranging customer seminars gives an indication of the show’s influence when it comes to encouraging channel communications.

It is also time to recognise the emergence of smaller hardware and software vendors aiming to use the show as a platform for furthering their business in the Middle East. As local IT spending continues to increase, even companies possessing an inherently direct-selling mentality will need to form partnerships for sales, support and services reasons. Delegations from outside the Gulf are due to be bringing record numbers of exhibitors this time around, and the majority are coming with the intention of cultivating distribution and channel relations.

For these companies and others, the fruits of their labour won’t be immediately visible on the bottom line, but if they trust the mantra that conversations lead to transactions the rewards are certain to come eventually.

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