RWME: What will be Tech Access main focus in 2010?
SG: The key focus area of Tech Access for 2010 is the KSA region as it is emerging as one of the fastest growing IT markets in MENA. According to research insights from IDC, the IT market of this oil–based economy has been valued at around $3.5 billion in 2009 and is expected to reach $4.8 billion by 2013.
RWME: Given that last year was such a challenging year for solution providers and resellers in the Middle East channel, how did Tech Access assist its channel partners to stay afloat?
SG: Our idea of supporting channel partners has been mostly through demand generation activities and pre–sales guidance. We work very closely with our partners to understand their operational difficulties and then align ourselves to meet their business requirements.
RWME: We are seeing a lot of buzz around virtualisation, cloud computing and green IT. Is Tech Access monitoring these trends with a view to engage with VARs, solution providers and SIs to explore business opportunities around these concepts?
SG: In today’s environment, the MENA region is emerging as one of the strategic IT markets and it has become important for us to leverage the opportunities. We have initiated discussions with a few leading vendors and hope to have announcements on our broadened product and services portfolio very soon.
RWME: Most vendors are working closely with super retailers in the region. Is the future of the distributor under threat as more and more vendors engage with super retailers?
SG: Being an end–to–end business solutions provider catering to the enterprise and mid-market sectors, we do not want to dilute our area of prime focus.
RWME: The role of a distributor in the IT sector continues to evolve. How important is value added distribution in the region?
SG: We focus on a niche enterprise market. Considering the complexity of the products and solutions we handle, it is of high importance to us to remain as an enterprise value added distributor in this region.
RWME: What markets by country break down will you be eyeing in 2010 in the Middle East?
SG: KSA, Qatar and Pakistan despite the economic slowdown. KSA will continue to be a lucrative market for technology products and solutions. Qatar may not be the largest IT market in the Gulf region, but due to the cautious investment approach, it is better positioned than any other markets in the region. Tech Access is in the process of establishing a team in Pakistan to leverage the growth of the ICT market in the SME sector in that country.
RWME: The tight market climate has meant that insurance provided has had to go up? Have you been affected in any way or from as a result of insurance cover or premiums going up?
SG: The transition has been the same like for everyone else as far as the premiums are concerned.
RWME: What is the most pressing channel issue at the moment in the Middle East channel?
SG: Although the business is growing, based on our understanding of partner business, cash flow management is identified as one key area that seeks serious planning from a financial point of view. Under the current economic situation, we are taking every step to ensure a balanced cash flow in the business.
RWME: With the Sun–Oracle deal having gone through and nearing finalisation, are you still going to distribute Sun’s portfolio even in the post merger scenario?
SG: As of today, the business is usual. Although we are not authorised to comment on the merger, there are a lot of synergies that we are keen on with this acquisition and we look forward to utilising it effectively.
Regional distributor Tech Access has set its focus on the Saudi Arabian market as the IT sector in this oil-driven economy is expected to reach US$4.8 billion by 2013. Reseller World Middle East (RWME) spoke to Shomail Ghalib, MD at Tech Access to find out more about the distributor?s regional focus for this year and beyond.