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Fri 3 Nov 2006 08:00 PM

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Sage sets up in Saudi and plans other locations

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ENTERPRISE software vendor Sage has set up its first office in Saudi Arabia and revealed plans to open two additional offices — a second in the Kingdom and one in Bahrain.

Up until now the firm has run all its regional business from its office in Dubai but believes the Saudi Arabian market holds great potential and that it will have a greater chance of winning business there if it operates directly within the country.

Marc Van der Ven, managing director for Sage Software Middle East, said that while the size of the Saudi market meant there was a huge opportunity for Sage’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) and human resources (HR) software, “the market is a bit more difficult to get into — not as open as Dubai or some other economies”.

Those vendors who are inside the market have more opportunities, he claimed. “That’s why we decided we had to get in there to be able to talk directly to our clients and be able to act much faster than if you have to come from the outside, ” he said.

Sage plans to hire five members of staff for the Riyadh office within its first fiscal year and within the same period will be opening an additional Saudi office in Jeddah and an office in Bahrain to serve the Eastern Province region of Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Gulf countries.

Van der Ven described how having a direct presence in Saudi Arabia will help to boost Sage’s business in the country.

“It’s a market where people really want to see you in person and see that you’re committed to their market and want to stick around. In the end the overall opportunity is much larger there but you have to have a personal relationship and contacts there to be able to develop that.”

He went on to say that organisations in the country are under increasing pressure to improve their business efficiency in preparation for World Trade Organisation (WTO) membership — creating a need for deployment of solutions such as ERP.

“The Saudi business environment is becoming increasingly competitive, and moving fast towards their WTO compliance.

“This means that organisations will need to built greater efficiency into their business operations, and need to have reliable systems in place to ensure immediate data availability and also data integrity,” he added.

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