Menya Zavoot GITEX

Sathya Mithra Ashok, Senior Editor, CNME

One of the best parts of GITEX for me is the number of people from outside the UAE that you get to meet.

These spokespeople are individuals that don’t visit the UAE often, and are in town only to support their team in the GITEX efforts, or to meet select customers from across the region who happen to be in Dubai for the trade show as well.

For the journalist in me, this is prime time to get thoughts and international perspectives from people who are acclaimed experts in their fields. But not every meeting is equal, and every GITEX leaves me with some ‘favourites’ in international spokespeople who I managed to meet.

This year’s special list, in random order, is below:

Peder Ulander, VP of Product Marketing, Cloud Platforms Group at Citrix

Rare is the ICT industry individual that can break technology down to the lowest common denominator, and analyse the entire globe in the simplest of terms to explain adoption and understand issues. Ulander is one of those rare people.

The former CMO of not only explained cloud and its relative adoption around the globe to me in uncomplicated, non-marketing terms, but he also presented a clear idea of  cloud computing technologies and their relevance to Middle East organisations.

Ulander spoke to me at GITEX for a half hour, explained the layers of the cloud that is often masked over, pointed out that the region has adopted certain elements of the cloud, and in the future will move along to the other layers.

He also pointed out that different parts of the globe were at different points along these layers as well, and therefore the Middle East was in good company.

Ulander spoke about the Middle East with an understanding and an intelligence that is extremely rare for an international spokesperson. And I do hope to invite him to CNME’s or CPI’s conferences in the near future.

Nicolas De Kouchkovsky, CMO at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise

It has been sometime since I met any representative of Alcate-Lucent Enterprise, and therefore I jumped at the opportunity to meet De Kouchkovsky. And I certainly did not regret my choice.

CMO as he might have been, De Kouchkovsky nevertheless provided me with a neutral perspective on not just Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, but the entire evolution of technologies for the enterprise and the challenges that organisations continue to face in trying to incorporate unified communications into their IT and business matrix.

Tracing the birth and growth of the enterprise arm of Alcatel-Lucent, he painted a fair picture on the achievements of the company so far, and the new frontiers it would have to cross in the near future. He also accepted that the firm, though well known in some mature markets of the region, was still largely connected with telecom service providers in others, and therefore, would need to invest in extensive branding activities in order to make itself a more familiar name for Middle East enterprises.

We also touched upon cloud as per Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise’s definition and spoke about what we are likely to see from the firm going forward.

He is definitely someone I would like to meet again.

Haither Nizam, Director of Product Management at Zoho  

Now I have heard about and its collaboration suite for quite some time. The cloud-provider’s suite is rated as one of the best in the market for free collaboration apps, and goes right up against Google Apps.

So imagine my surprise when I sat down with this spokesperson from Zoho who told me that while the two compete in one set of solutions, they do work together in partnership for another.

According to Nizam, Zoho’s business apps work seamlessly with Google Apps and therefore make for a perfect choice together. The company, which has a strong base of paying users in the US, and has always targeted small start-ups and businesses, is launching in the Middle East, and wants to move aggressively to get customers from the region, and to move up the scale to servicing larger clients.

In order to make these aims come true, Zoho has partnered with FVC (the company that won CNME’s Industry Achievement: VAD of the Year Award at this year’s ICT Achievement Awards ceremony).

It is rare to see relatively small, yet successful, companies entering the Middle East and aiming for large enterprises. It is refreshing to hear them talk about products and innovation, and the importance of R&D in constantly updating and keeping afresh solutions. Zoho, in other words, was a breath of that fresh air for me.

Garry Kondokov, VP of Emerging Markets at Kaspersky

Kaspersky is a company that fascinates me. In a market that is dominated by American and Indian firms, Kaspersky stands as an unusual competitor in the security landscape. And Garry Kondokov is an exemplary example of the minds that drive the company.

This was my second meeting with Kondokov, and much like the first, I was impressed by his global outlook that took into consideration not just the company’s current status and its future aspirations, but also the economic climate of the world and the situation in which all companies have to fight for market share.

Kondokov knows his markets like the back of his hand, and can hold a conversation that looks at Kaspersky’s performance and growth across multiple geographies. He is also an extremely non-biased individual when it comes to painting Kaspersky’s involvement in the enterprise market and the battles that still had to be fought on that front.

Kondokov also spoke during the meeting on Kaspersky’s strategy, and what we can expect from the company in the next 12 months.

We ended the interview with him teaching me how to introduce myself in Russian.

Yep – I am definitely making time for Kondokov next GITEX as well.

For indepth coverage on each of the above meetings, read the November issue of CNME or keep checking back on our website



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