In spite of the insecurity about the Middle East economy and the continued uncertainty in some parts in the region, channel stakeholders remain optimistic about what the next 12 months will bring to their businesses. The feature will look at what 2017 has in store for the regional channel.
By Mazen A. Dohaji | Regional Director – Middle East, Turkey & Africa, LogRhythm
How would you summarise the channel business in the region in 2017 (please be as specific as possible regarding different countries and market verticals)?
The Middle East and North Africa is growing rapidly, new businesses are opening every other day and global IT companies are constantly looking to invest in this market. That’s why LogRythm chose Dubai to expand our presence in the region. There is a massive opportunity here, especially in the ICT space, but the rate of growth means that entire industries need to collaborate to keep up with the demand.
Which Middle East and North Africa countries will prove the strongest in channel terms during 2018, and what will be the main growth drivers?
While the Middle East IT market remains robust and firm especially for security from a products, solutions, services and vendors’ perspective, the market itself has continued to attract threats largely due to the wealth that’s being generated by various industry verticals in the region. Key countries we expect to drive significant focus and revenues would be UAE, KSA, Oman, Kuwait and the rest of the MENA market. Key growth sectors will be mining, retail, service providers, defence, oil and gas, and government (especially around smart cities).
Why should channel stakeholders be upbeat about 2018, despite a lot of uncertainty about the regional IT economy?
The evolution has already started. Most system integrators and resellers are, for example, focusing more on the business outcomes that customers are looking for rather than just product lifecycles. This is resulting in the need to integrate diverse technological solutions consumed in a combination of CAPEX and OPEX models. While spending on security hardware appliances is getting more and more competitive and that brings margin pressure, IT security vendors are bring potential new revenue streams. Combine that with growing threats such as ransomware, and this creates a need for customers to search for new solutions and that’s where channel partners come in.
As cyber-attacks become increasingly common, businesses will start moving towards having comprehensive cyber-resilience strategies in place, rather than simply looking at security. A cyber-resilience strategy requires solutions to defend against a myriad of threats, to back up and archive email data for fast recovery, and to provide continuous access to email even when attacks cause servers to go down.
How should channel businesses evolve in the region to adapt to the ever changing IT landscape?
From our perspective as more organisations come online and move to the cloud, the opportunity for cyber criminals increases and as a result cyber-crime is also growing. New email users aren’t always aware of the potential risks or the fact that advanced security is necessary to protect their organisation’s networks. Email security in certain markets is not keeping up with the rate at which individuals are coming on line. That said, some of the biggest threats affecting both enterprise and small businesses is clearly is ransomware. Especially in small and medium business it’s worrisome if you are a small business and you get [ransomware] as that can impact your business from a productivity and reputation standpoint.
It’s up to the channel to educate customers about the need for cyber resilience. They need to explain how it’s no longer enough to simply combat attacks, it’s essential that they ensure continuity during an attack and fast recovery after a threat is neutralised.
What will be the big technology bets and game changers in 2018 and how should channel partners be preparing?
The Middle East’s uptake of cloud computing still lags behind mature markets. This has been due to a number of element, among which are the associated security and privacy concerns. But we have begun to see cloud service provides now investing in the region and building their data centres in the Middle East. We anticipate more governments and companies to adopt emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, IoT and blockchain while protecting the investments they have already made. Because there are many types of threats, regulatory compliance that needs to be followed and many different areas and solutions that can be used, but only a limited budget, organisations tend to prioritise their security spending. LogRhythm believes that the key to threat management is to stop attacks as early in the attack lifecycle as possible.
How will the IT security market pan out in 2018?
I believe cybersecurity has been the dominant force in the IT industry in 2017. Despite enterprises becoming increasingly cautious of their IT spending, security spending is growing. For many channel players, this has mean playing catch up by only now adding security solutions to their portfolios. LogRhythm offers Next-generation SIEM, Security Analytics, Log Management, Network Forensics and Endpoint Monitoring. This integrated threat intelligence ecosystem and Threat Lifecycle Management Platform helps organisations rapidly detect, respond to and neutralise threats before they become incidents or major data breaches. We see the enterprise sector in Middle East as more dynamic in their adoption of new security solutions and services. That said, some of the biggest threats affecting both enterprise and small businesses is clearly ransomware.
What does the channel need to do in order to take advantage of what many are forecasting to be a bumper year for the IT segment in the Middle East?
Understanding of the market, customer pain points and emerging trends and technology allows the channel to capitalise on continued growth of IT adoption. One of the reasons the security industry can be lucrative for the channel is the fact that no single solution can offer all the protection needed. Instead, organisations need to take a layered approach. Simply put, success today requires the channel ecosystem to be empowered with a flexible platform to build something valuable to take to market that delivers business success.
Where do the most attractive prospects for margin lie in 2018 and why?
We are of the view that there is no single solution that has the most attractive profit margin, which is why we are leveraging the power of vertical specialisation and capturing relevance in that way. After all, it is one thing to apply technology horizontally, but it’s much more powerful when you can address the unique business challenges faced by players in each vertical. We work closely with our partners by supporting them with training, certifications and if need be domain specialisations by offering both technical and market advice around our solutions offerings products. LogRhythm’s partners include leading technology vendors, value-added resellers, MSSPs and consulting partners. Together, we give the channel visibility it needs to defend end user customers from cyber threats, meet compliance objectives, and improve operational efficiency.
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