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Mon 13 Mar 2006 04:00 AM

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Mitel galvanises MEA channel at Istanbul conference

IP networking vendor Mitel has held its annual channel get together, rousing its partners from across the Middle East for a discussion of sales and marketing strategy, product updates and assessment of the vendor’s position in the region.

|~|mitelconfheader200.gif|~|Partners gathered at the conference|~|IP networking vendor Mitel has held its annual channel get together, rousing its partners from across the Middle East for a discussion of sales and marketing strategy, product updates and assessment of the vendor’s position in the region.

Over 40 integrators from across the Middle East and Africa attended the event in Istanbul, Turkey where the Canadian vendor’s teams from its UK EMEA head office and the Middle East joined forces to drive home Mitel’s aims in the IP space.

“I am very pleased with the turnout. When I saw the initial list of partners we had invited and the spread of the markets, I expected around 50% to 60% of them to actually make it, but I think we’ve got about 90% of those who registered here,” said Graham Bevington, managing director EMEA at Mitel, speaking at the conference.

The overriding messages of the two-day conference were that the company will continue to drive its technology and end-to-end solutions, strengthening its position in the oil and gas and hospitality sectors while bringing more attention to verticals where it has been successful in Europe such as retail.

Mitel said that it is also working towards the software space, positioning itself as an applications solutions company, as well as developing its relationship with Microsoft. Mitel currently provides signalling and media gateway systems to complement Microsoft Office Live Communications Server and Office Communicator client applications.||**|||~|mitelconf200.gif|~|EMEA bosses Gary Briscombe (left) and Graham Bevington (right) address integrators at the conference|~|“As much as the channels need to change, we need to change our outlook as to where we go when it comes to taking new services to market. Part of our own challenge is to get out of our comfort zone,” added Bevington.

Partners, who flew in from Algeria, Yemen, Tunisia and Iran as well as countries from the GCC and Levant, joined Mitel’s local channel in Turkey for the conference.

“We have been tied with Mitel for three years and business is getting bigger all the time. We saw 100% growth year-on-year for 2004 to 2005 and we did 14 major systems projects last year. We have nine Mitel partners across the country. I’d say Mitel was the 3rd or 4th largest communications company in Turkey. We see its offering as enterprise functionality tailored to a company’s specific requirements,” said Hikmet Özsoy, channel sales manager at Communication Performer Group, a Turkish Mitel partner.

“There has been a lot of information, and the product roadmap is very adventurous. It is good to get the feedback from some of the other partners that are at the conference. We’ve only been working with Mitel for four or five months but already we’ve won major installations, at Coca-Cola and Oasis contracting, a big company and part of Saudi Aramco. Now we have these references, it will help us get a lot more accounts and Mitel has a very cost effective product offering,” said Asif Ayub enterprise account manager at Infosys Global, Mitel partner in Saudi Arabia. ||**|||~|mitelconfhish200.gif|~|Hisham Amili, general manger GCC at Mitel Networks|~|At the conclusion of the conference, Channel partners had their say in how Mitel can improve its services in the Middle East. The brainstorming session yielded a number of different areas which the vendor pledged to look into, including improving the shared area for the Middle East and Africa on the Mitel website and encouraging partners to share more information. The vendor will also look at its leasing options, coordinate product information translation into French for African markets such a Morocco and Mitel said it will pay the first years membership for any partners wanting to join its user group.

“All the players specialised in VoIP are strong – but what sets Mitel apart is that it only has one product. We are specialised in VoIP and that is it. You can buy your bread from the supermarket, or you can go to a dedicated baker and buy your bread, it doesn’t mean the supermarket have lesser quality bread; but it does mean that they don’t have the experience of doing it right again and again and again,” concluded Hisham Amili, general manger GCC at Mitel Networks.||**||

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