With IT usage growing maturing it is time for SIs to re-think their offerings and scale up the value chain. Good news it that some forward-looking SIs have raised the bar to tap the opportunities by offering consultancy, project management, products, in addition to integration. New revenue streams are emerging on the horizon particularly in the areas of wireless, remote network management, IP networks, and more.
Services are also a potential area where many system integrators are foraying into. Globally, it’s been found that when vendors are talking about SaaS model and customers getting used to the concept, it has become a huge untapped area to capture for Sis.
With the market growing, IT spending and adoption are also spiralling upwards. More importantly, it’s a time when SMBs and other end-users are becoming increasingly frustrated with the escalating costs and hassles associated with managing their own IT operations. These SMBs also tends to rely heavily on system Integrators for their IT infrastructure needs and advice. In such a scenario, the success mantra for such SIs is to become most trusted advisors of the SMBs or their customers. This can only be achieved when SIs become vendor neutral and understand the customer’s needs very well.
“The fast growing adoption of IP Networks in the region has created fresh opportunities for equipment manufacturers, service providers, value-added resellers (VARs), system integrators (SIs) and application developers,” says Sami Abi Esber, President, Mideast Data Systems UAE (MDS).
He points out that the Middle East region is investing in new networking technologies, especially around security and intelligent Networks. In terms of network security, most companies are investing more on protection of business-sensitive information, making it a top priority. Now the security domain exhibits strong signs of maturity and even greater potential for excellent opportunities, it has become an imperative for Sis to invest qualified resources to take advantage of the service business around security solutions implementations.
“It’s good news for system integrators like us that market is getting more mature. However, now more and more customers want to have high-end network equipment, and they also demand quality of servi. Since they are not new to technology, so now, they are also demanding for quality of services,” says Siddeek Rahim, Managing Director of Dimension Data.
The SaaS Opportunity
The need to do more with less, which has given birth to the concept of on-demand software services, provides an excellent opportunity to System Integrators to satisfy the primary concerns of SMBs such as system uptime, quality of network, aligning IT goals with business goals, and controlling IT maintenance expenses.
According to a recent Gartner study, the worldwide services opportunity for portals and collaboration and business intelligence together is estimated at more than $40 billion. A case in point is Cyquent, a Dubai based system integrator which has diversified its business operations by offering Microsoft Dynamics. Praveen Thawani, Director of Cyquent, says, “In a short span, Cyquent has made huge strides and has emerged as a strong Microsoft partner by developing vertical solutions on top of Microsoft Dynamics products to further extend the value proposition to our customers.”
“We are working closely with major manufacturing group of companies in Dubai, proposing Microsoft Dynamics Axapta solution, with which customer will have total control on their business. We work as a team to provide a complete solution customized for their requirements. By providing system design to deployment, followed by outsourced SLA based support, these users are enjoying the benefits of dealing with a one-stop shop provider.”
Priorities of IT Heads
The ability to adapt to the changing needs of their business growth is top of the mind of every CIO. They also have to secure the IT infrastructure without hampering the business growth. “Apart from these, taking full control of their infrastructure centrally is also an aspect where they are always focusing on. CIOs look to achieve these goals with intelligent, unified networks,” says Abi Esber.
“Networks have become the enabler for many businesses. Organizations have realised that quality networks are no longer just a back-end operational component, it can actually deliver and sustain business growth for them,” says Rahim.
The wireless opportunity
With the overall market shift towards mobility, enterprise organizations are getting increasingly attracted towards wireless networks. However, IT managers are still worried about the security aspect of wireless networks. “Wireless solutions are becoming more and more secure than before, and we see a huge demand for new secure wireless solutions.”
Rahim adds, “Wireless has a lot of utilities as a technology for many technology users. Industry segments like hospitality, entertainment, government and education have started showing great amount of attraction towards wireless technology.”
Another key trend in the market is a shift towards intelligent networks that can take care of interoperability aspects and ensure secured, fast data transfer. “Intelligent unified network solutions make it easy to plan, deploy, manage and maintain the networks, and bring to market adaptive networks that deliver high-performance, no-compromise functionality, which helps in getting the most business value from your networks,” says Esber.
Emergence of data centres is also a lucrative market opportunity for system integrators. “With the new MPLS – WAN connection technology that is offered by the local telcos, enterprises and SMBs are encouraged to build their data centres and disaster recovery sites, and connect them with high bandwidth links as the prices are more affordable,” says Esber.
To sum up, there are certain elements that any system integrator has to keep in mind. One is to become as closer to their customers as possible. Offering solutions from the customer’s perspective is also an important thing. Finally, what appeals to the customer is a vendor neutral system integrator. So the time has come for the system integrators, in the Middle East region, to actually look at these aspects carefully, and grow along with their customers.