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Sun 7 Oct 2007 11:06 AM

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Who needs information?

Last week I had a call from some MBA students in Dubai, asking for some help with a project on the Gulf IT market.

Last week I had a call from some MBA students in Dubai, asking for some help with a project on the Gulf IT market (guys, I'll get back to you shortly, I promise...).

Looking through the questions they sent, most of the data the students were after were facts and figures relating to the market - the size of particular segments, and how much different applications and system types contributed to the overall market.

Now, I'm going to have to disappoint these students somewhat when I tell them that I don't know the answers to most of these types of questions, at least not from my own knowledge. All I can do is point them in the direction of research companies and analysts, such as the IDCs and Forresters of this world.

And while IDC in particular produces a fairly large number of reports on the market size of certain segments in certain regions, it does not deliver much in the way of real insight into how the market operates, where it is moving, or what the drivers are behind purchasing decisions.

Indeed, analysts sometimes get things spectacularly wrong - one representative from a research company that shall remain nameless delighted a colleague of mine by insisting that the Gulf's hardware market was too large and companies should be spending more on software. Apparently the phrase ‘re-export' had not occurred to him.

In fairness to the analysts, though, it's not like this information is easy to come by. The Middle East's famous reticence to divulge hard data makes gathering and analysing these types of statistics a real challenge, and for global analysts there are much more lucrative markets to focus on, given this state of affairs.

This may be a mistake. Because it's not only impecunious students and cheapskate journalists - the two least likely groups ever to pay for a research paper - that are after market data. Over the last month several vendors have suggested that they would be willing to pay hard cash for hard facts, if only someone could produce the hard facts.

At the moment, there is no one with this kind of information, so for now we're all going to have to keep on waiting. But - just for the sake of argument - if data were available, what would you want data on? And, conversely, what do you feel you have too much information on as it is?

I'd like your views on these - what data you'd like to see, and what you already have - so we can start putting together a picture of where the holes in our regional knowledge are. I don't mind if you're a CIO, a vendor, an integrator, or just a nosy market observer - let me know your thoughts.

You can use the ‘comments' form at the bottom of this article, or e-mail me on eliot.beer@itp.com.

I'm not promising to produce anything magically from my editor's hat - but we can certainly start to lay the groundwork for something more interesting.

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