While some IT companies in the region may have taken a battering from last year’s global economic slowdown, the same cannot be said about Saudi Arabia-based IT Group Sariya IT.
Amjad Fathi Al-Omar, Director at Sariya-IT, says the year 2009 was not that bad especially in the IT segment since the market in the Middle East and in particular Saudi Arabia has had a number of positive factors to help it avoid stagnation, including fairly resilient consumer demand, and ongoing infrastructure projects.
Al-Omar says major verticals such as oil and gas, power, education and telecoms have continued to grow and will deliver further growth even in 2010. “Having said that, I believe that the SMB sector in the region tried to cut IT spending in 2009 because of the global crisis but the effects of the global financial crisis were not a significant impact on the IT market in Saudi Arabia,” he says. “I still believe the Saudi market could accommodate three times (or more) growth than the current consumption of IT products and services.”
Al-Omar adds that the global financial crisis had little impact or effect on the Saudi market when you look at the actual market needs and the percentage to increase spending on technology in many sectors.
Al-Omar points out that 2010 has started with high aspiration for the company in terms of achieving many of the goals set by senior management of Sariya-IT. The aspirations include major expansion plans that the company intends embark on in the Gulf region. “Our main focus for this year will be on the following segements namely security software, hardware products, storage solutions products and network solutions,” he says. “In terms of customers, we will be focusing more on corporate clients and customers in the utilities space.”
In addition, Al-Omar says developing the sales channel is one of the main objectives for Sariya-IT this year.
Although within the Sariya-IT Group there is a system integrator as well as the distribution arm, Al-Omar says the company provides integrated services to all sectors in the KSA including the provision of comprehensive and turn-key solutions. “We have excellent relations with all our vendor partners and resellers in the KSA and our aim always is to have a satisfied customer base,” he says.
With a lot of big IT projects in the pipeline, Al-Omar says Sariya-IT will be focusing on a range of vital sectors that are expected to achieve high growth rates in the KSA and these verticals are: oil and gas, power, education and telecoms. “We will be are offering solutions in networking, security and low current systems,” he says.
Al-Omar adds that around these solution offerings, Sariya-IT’s revenue contribution in percentage wise is 30% for products, 30% services and 30%contribution from the software business.
As demand for skilled IT professionals is at an all time high in the Middle East, how is Sariya-IT managing to retain highly qualified personnel? Al-Omar says the provision of creating an appropriate working environment for professionals is the true philosophy in which Sariya-IT retains its staff.
He points out that the main challenge Sariya-IT is expecting to face is how to keep its market share and even increase it. “We know that the competition is the biggest current hurdle,” he says. “We expect a lot of competition in the Gulf and the Middle East market, especially after unveiling our market penetration plan which aims to increase the footprint in the GCC countries.”
Al-Omar explains that another challenge Sariya-IT is facing is to create opportunities for sales to SMEs and access to this bracket of business.”Many of them are still fearful of increasing IT spending,” he says.
Looking ahead, Al-Omar says Sariya-IT is looking forward to keeping pace with progress in IT although certain concepts such as virtualisation and cloud computing may still be in the infancy in the Middle East region.
RWME spoke to Amjad Fathi Al-Omar, Director at Saudi-based Sariya-IT on the company?s growth prospects for this year.