The region’s largest ICT exhibition ‘GITEX Technology Week’ holds a different meaning, a different significance, a different perspective for different people in the industry. We talked to some of the channel elites to understand what the event means to them beyond being a networking platform, what value it adds to their business strategy and how beneficial their investment in this event really is.
Stressing on the event being much more than a valuable networking event, Alaa Elshimy, Vice President & MD, Huawei Enterprise ME said, “We don’t believe that this is the most important aspect of the conference. The fact that so many industry and government leaders are in attendance is important for more than networking reasons. Its value lies in is its position as the biggest gathering of experts and leaders in the Middle East, offering us a chance to discuss the challenges and opportunities of the exciting times we are living in.”
Leo Cole, Vice President Marketing, DarkMatter added that this platform is also an opportunity to communicate our own point of view as cybersecurity specialists. The event allowed them to not just interact with partners and prospects but also gain a sense of the driving themes and discussions within the ICT sector in the region and beyond.
IT professionals in both public and commercial sectors are under increasing pressure to demonstrate if they have the optimal data center technologies and cloud security solutions in place to support digital transformation and deliver values for their business or organization.
“GITEX provides us with the right platform to demonstrate how we can help our solution providers acquire critical consultative expertise. We were also able to showcase how we can equip them to help end-customers better understand what it takes to capture transformative benefits delivered by these technologies in addressing current IT challenges,” added Vimal Kocher, Managing Director ME, Arrow ECS.
The main goal of Equinix’s participation at Tech Week this year was to open a conversation with MENA enterprises asking them if they are ready for digital transformation.
“Given that it is a five-day event, GITEX is a huge investment, but a good one for Equinix – we can find all digital ecosystems, in one place with 40 hours of conversation and connections,” added Jeroen Schlosser, Managing Director, Equinix MENA.
According to Mohammed Amin, Senior Vice President META, Dell EMC, “The company used this exhibition to demonstrate its capabilities to IT decision makers in a market where Digital Transformation is a priority and is driving disruptive projects.”
While most participants and visitors set goals before GITEX regarding the number of leads, channel recruitments and meetings etc., for many what makes GITEX unique is the number of unexpected meetings around the show.
“You can achieve much more by meeting your peers, ex-colleagues, ex-customers and partners,” explained Kamel Heus, Regional Manager MEA, Centrify. On speaking with new prospects, Heus was particularly impressed by the level of awareness about securing the identity and using it as the new perimeter for IT Security.
GITEX 2017 continued the trend of the recent years with an area of concentration in the mobility and cloud spaces. Moreover, enterprise solutions providers showcased their VAT-readiness in keeping in line with the local policies within the GCC.
Since being VAT-ready is slated to become a mandatory compliance requirement in the GCC by the end of 2017, Focus Softnet’s VAT-ready solutions generated significant interest.
“We received a number of VAT related inquiries from visitors at the event. It is not easy to measure the response we received in tangible business outcomes but we sure have many new sales leads generated from this year’s participation,” added Ali Hyder, Group CEO, Focus Softnet.
Excited about their successful participation at the event, Mario M. Veljovic, General Manager, VAD Technologies added, “We overachieved our objectives, are very pleased with the outcome and proud about VAD’s visibility in the market. GITEX gave us a hint of what to expect for the business. While many purchase decisions were on hold until now, it is necessary to make the right investments this year to prepare for VAT and improve operational efficiency for the years to come.”
Kamal Mokrani, Global Vice President, InfiNet Wireless find this as a potential platform for identifying new technologies which should be considered for future R&D work as well as finding new stakeholders for our ecosystem. Mokrani also feels that they are able to gain a lot of exposure to media outlets in the region. “We managed to reach out to multiple strategic media partners like Channel Post MEA and strengthened our presence in both online and printed materials,” he added.
Mokrani emphasized that while GITEX is without doubt an event that represents real value for money, they would like to see the prices of nearby hotel accommodation come down significantly during the period of the event, as well as to have more flexibility from the organisers in terms of marketing their company within the Zabeel halls themselves without having to pay extortionate amounts of money.
Adding to Mokrani’s observation, Graham Porter, Head of Channels ME, Veeam said, “While we actually found some new customers and generated quite a few interesting leads which should produce a return on investment for us, there are a few concerns we would like to see addressed in the next editions. The traffic outside was worse than I have seen before, but based on the traffic I expected to see more visitors in the Halls. Also, it would be nice to have more Saudi visitors, as the Kingdom accounts for 50% of the Middle East addressable market.”
Roland Daccache, Systems Engineer MENA, Fidelis Cybersecurity adds that their investment in GITEX was well placed, as it will bring a high ROI to help grow business across the region.
“What stands out for us is the ability to reach out to a wider audience from different countries and background that we otherwise don’t have an immediate ability to reach out to,” he added.
According to Alexander Foroozandé, Channel Director META, Infoblox, this 5-day period gives them ample opportunity to arrange for executive level conversations and plan for the following year.
“GITEX is a forum to establish trust with our customers and partners but also a platform to form collaborative alignment with strategic vendors in adjacent technologies,” he added.
“In addition to the meaningful engagements that go a long way in strengthening relationships, it also gives us the opportunity to gauge the pulse of the Middle East market and understand the key trends which we then use to guide our strategy for the following year,” explained Elie Dib, Regional Vice President METNA, Riverbed.
GITEX demands a tremendous amount of resources, both in terms of money and man-hours. For Riverbed, the main takeaway from this mega event is a healthy pipeline of new business opportunities but Dib stresses that realizing the ROI on a trade show such as GITEX usually takes quite some time.
Commenting on their returning participation at GITEX, Nisith Naik, CEO, Centra Hub said, “Being a legacy investor at GITEX, the ROIs have been proven and established time again! Having a presence here doesn’t only serve the purpose of showing the region our capabilities, offerings and enhancements, but also serves as a platform to showcase our legacy, history and roadmap to the future! Each year we walk away with strong partnerships, new relationships, and customer acquisition.
This year there was great demand for security solutions given the rise in attacks in the region. “We were able to educate the audience on the latest security trends and talk to them about our next gen security solutions. Continuous interactions and meetings with existing partners at the event have strengthened our channel network as well,” stated Harish Chib, Vice President MEA, Sophos.
Spectrami adopted a different approach to its participation at GITEX. “We participated at the event in association with leading vendors like Attivo Networks, LogRhythm, Exabeam, TITUS, Pulse Secure, Osirium and Neustar,” said Anand Choudha, Managing Director, Spectrami.
Choudha explains that GITEX has always been about Networking and has never been about leads. “We believe it is the ideal opportunity to network with and identify potential prospects to capitalise on new opportunities and forge new partnerships, he added.
For ALE, this year’s GITEX has been the perfect platform to demonstrate the power of connected communication platforms and guide businesses on how they can begin their digital transformation journey.
“We are indeed pleased to have accomplished what we had set out to achieve,” explained Baher Ezzat, Regional General Manager, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise ME.
Apart from being a great networking event that enables the entire industry to meet with partners, customers and peers, it is also a platform to showcase where technology is headed and how digital transformation is changing the world. Whether someone invested for the first time in GITEX or has been a regular participant at the event, most were satisfied with their investment and time spent in GITEX.
It is also an accepted fact that returns from the event are not immediate in terms of number of business leads but are more about creating brand awareness, educating the market about new trends, exchanging ideas and listening to customers about their day-to-day challenges. Since interactions tend to be shorter and more focused, one can expect to achieve in a few minutes what would otherwise take hours or even days.
This event offers numerous avenues to be exploited providing everyone with a different stroke to take advantage of and from an event organization perspective it was a big success, at par with what we are accustomed to seeing at GITEX.