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Thu 21 Feb 2008 02:05 PM

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Cream of the Crop

The clock is ticking until the time when the winners of the inaugural Channel Middle East Awards are announced

The clock is ticking until the time when the winners of the inaugural Channel Middle East Awards are announced at a prestigious gala dinner and ceremony in Dubai next month.

We've been swamped with nominations from vendors, distributors, resellers and retailers based in the region, underscoring the vibrancy of a Middle East market that continues to prosper from double-digit growth rates.

The sheer volume - and more importantly the quality - of entries submitted to the Channel Middle East Awards team in the run-up to last week's deadline illustrates the esteem with which partnerships and alliances are held in this part of the world.

It's no exaggeration to say that the nominations we have received demonstrate shining examples of notable business development, innovation and overall channel excellence. Such success stories do not always gain the exposure they deserve; either obscured by the abundance of information pumped into the public domain or simply left untold by those responsible for creating them.

However, the Channel Middle East Awards will honour these cases of outstanding achievement and give them the independent platform for recognition that they deserve.

One thing is abundantly clear: whoever emerges victorious in each of the 14 categories can be sure to have fended off substantial competition. With each category of the awards attracting multiple entrants, the barriers for the first ever Channel Middle East Awards have been set extremely high.

In the vendor categories, for instance, the company crowned Networking Vendor of the Year will have had to demonstrate considerable flair for channel development and channel growth given the strength of nominees contesting the award. Virtually all networking vendors operating in the Middle East have built comprehensive local partner models, which has subsequently led to a more intimate level of partner engagement than in other theatres - a fact that is clearly evident in the standard of nominations.

Unsurprisingly, the Systems and Hardware Vendor of the Year award has also enticed a swathe of high-calibre entrants. With candidates spread among the desktop, notebook, displays and appliances markets, the recipient of this award will have exhibited an all-round display of channel excellence that sets them apart from the crowd.

The Software Vendor of the Year category is poised to leave the judges with plenty to deliberate over too. Software might once have represented a single-digit portion of IT spend in the region, but it is now expanding enormously. As the nominations attest, software vendors in prominent areas such as anti-virus, financial accounting and enterprise applications are working furiously to enlarge their Middle East channels.

Meanwhile, the pedigree of candidates in the non-vendor segment of the awards is incredibly impressive following a mass of nominations from distributors, resellers and retailers. The three distribution categories have drawn strong interest from local and regional players with plenty to say about how they are growing the market for vendors and providing increased levels of service to the reseller community.

The battle for the Retail Distributor of the Year accolade is set to be particularly compelling given the number of distinguished entrants vying for success. The prestige associated with this prize is testimony to the sophisticated services and support that distributors must now exhibit to serve power retail accounts.

It is a facet of the market that relationships and channel dynamics are constantly changing as people move between employers and organisations update their corporate objectives. But such politics still don't alter the fact that IT vendors must create sustainable channel development policies to stand any chance of Middle East success, while first- and second-tier channel players will always need to interact with one another to ensure the whole ecosystem is able to flourish.

On Wednesday March 26th the best of the best will deservedly get their moment in the spotlight.

For more details about the Channel Middle East Awards please visit: www.itp.net/events/channelmeawards

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