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Stepping into the cloud

Raqmiyat is the leading IT business arm of the Al Ghurair group, one of the well known and diversified Business groups based out of Dubai. Having established a strong presence in the local UAE market through its offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Raqmiyat is looking at expansion opportunities in the rest of the GCC countries including Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

The local systems integrator has been able to counter fallout from the economic slowdown because of its primary focus on managed services and solutions, which are expected to have a greater appeal among IT users in SME and enterprise segments. The systems integrator sees demand for applications and services it provides as having increased over the past year.

Navneet Tandon, VP, ERP & Services, Raqmiyat says the group is well placed to ride out any slowdown with its focus on services. He concedes there has been a slowdown where hardware systems are concerned.

He comments, “While it has impacted the hardware business, the services and niche applications business has in fact increased. Overall we are experiencing growth over last year. Hardware related projects have slowed down. But software, both bespoke and packaged software, and services have registered an increase.”

Raqmiyat has been focusing on specialized solutions and services over the years. Its offerings cover a wide spectrum inclusive of key outsourcing services, including managed services, hosting and infrastructure services, information systems, software applications, and network and desktop management services to various companies in the region.

The SI believes that there is a strong potential opening up for managed services in the region. It is further strengthening its expertise in delivery of outsourced services, with aims to leverage UAE’s sizeable IT outsourcing spend, which is expected to top USD 225 million this year. Raqmiyat is also eyeing other GCC countries as key markets, as they make strong bids to develop their outsourcing industries.

Tandon says, “There is a growing market for managed services in the region. We have set up the outsourcing development centre (ODC) in Chennai, India to meet this demand. The ODC has in excess of 100 personnel currently.”

Raqmiyat has been quick to confront the challenges that the slowdown has brought in. One of the major focuses for the company has been on controlling costs.

Tandon says, “We have maintained a tight control over our costs, leveraged the offshore development centre in Chennai and concentrated on areas of the business that are witnessing growth. Under the current circumstances we are only focussing on solutions that bring immediate value to customers.”

The offshore development centre that Tandon refers to is a recent investment made earlier in the year by the company. It has invested close to AED 10 million towards the set-up of this new state-of-the-art ‘Software Development Centre’ at the DLF IT Park – Chennai in India, where it is training up to 100 IT personnel who would be working in its new development centre. This centre will serve as the hub for major software and technological development and outsourcing services for customers in the Middle East.

The centre is designed to synchronise new-age workspace needs with intelligent planning, and is in line with the company’s plans to strengthen its outsourcing resources and services in the critical fields of managed services, hosting and infrastructure services, information systems, software applications, and network and desktop management services

In terms of applications, the company focus on deploying ERP at Mid – Tier companies. The other areas of focus for the company are CRM, integration of specialized applications like Asset Tracking, SCM, Sales Force Automation etc. Raqmiyat works with leading solution providers and implementation partners such as Oracle, Sybase, JDEdwards, Lucent, Satyam, Relicon etc. It has also been recognised as a Microsoft Gold partner, making it part of a select group of system integrators in the region.

The company is currently offering business solutions in segments such as supply chain management (SCM), human resource (HR) applications, and enterprise resource planning (ERP) through its ‘GEMS’ ERP solution and the system integrator is strengthening their cloud computing aspects over the next few years. In addition, the company also offers accounting and payroll applications through the cloud computing model or SAAS (software as a service). Providing web-based integration for critical business processes covering point of sale to finance and accounting, GEMS has already been implemented in a large number of organisations with diverse business operations in the UAE as well as in other GCC countries.

A few months ago, Raqmiyat had also launched ‘Raqmiyat – WPS Connect’, a solution designed to work with the UAE Central Bank’s ‘Wages Protection System’, an initiative by the Ministry of Labour along with the Central Bank of UAE. The software provides an interface for banks and exchange houses to connect to the Central Bank’s WPS system based on stipulated file formats, which will facilitate automation across all WPS cycles and help streamline the timely payment of wages to over 4 million blue collared employees in the UAE. The WPS system is designed to enable the Ministry of Labour to monitor payment of wages and create a complete database of the labour workforce.

While cloud computing in terms of actual adoption is in its infancy, Raqmiyat is betting that this will grow considerably as a preferred form of IT investment model, across SMB and enterprise segments. With its traditionally strong focus in services, Raqmiyat believes it is well positioned to deliver all types of cloud-based solutions rooted in industry-based standards. Over time, it wants to build a breadth of services under the cloud computing model which is expected to be a preferred model of IT investments by customers who want to keep costs down in IT investments. Raqmiyat is thus on the road to address this growing demand for cloud computing and SAAS services as it gains a foothold in the regional IT sector.

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