In the technology-hungry Middle East, strategic IT solutions partner Seidor MENA has learned that while being an advisor to clients is important, being willing to also push them is absolutely essential.
“For our customers, we certainly play an advisory role but we also find we need to play a challenging role,” said Seidor MENA managing director Ignacio Ruiz de Eguilaz.
“It’s extremely important for us to help them answer the question of, ‘Why are we doing this project? Why do we want to go in this direction? What are the primary reasons?’ And sometimes we even have to ask them to consider, ‘Does what we’re thinking about actually make sense?’ ”
Such is life as a high-profile strategic services provider of digital transformation strategy and solutions in the fast-growing Middle East economy for one of the region’s top SAP ecosystem partners. Based in Dubai, Seidor MENA also offers solutions from Celonis and from hyperscalers Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure.
That new type of engagement with customers reflects the dramatically different marketplace today for business customers, their primary cloud providers, and the strategic partners like Seidor MENA that have taken on indispensable roles in helping their clients move rapidly and successfully into the digital economy.
No longer simply extensions of a multifaceted fulfillment process for IT products, business-oriented partners like Seidor MENA are now valued by customers for their overall business acumen, their regional expertise, their vision into where digital business is headed, and their ability to pull all that together with world-class technology.
While many big companies in the MENA area—Middle East and North Africa—are eager to take part in the cloud-based digital revolution, certain mindsets require Seidor MENA to find unique ways to guide business leaders into the digital future.
“The Middle East is a high-risk market and it’s trying to catch up with Europe and the U.S. in terms of tech maturity and market maturity,” said Seidor MENA sales director Tariq Laham, who joined Ruiz de Eguilaz and me on a recent Zoom call.
(To hear the entire conversation via our Cloud Wars Live podcast episode, please click here.)
“In the Middle East, we like to possess things—we like to own things,” Laham said. “I own my apartment. I own my car. If you have a business, it’s likely it’s a family business and has been for some time.
“So when it comes to technology, the feeling often is, ‘I want to own my own server, and my own applications, and my own data. And sometimes it can take a lot of massaging to get things done.”
In spite of that apparent clash with the entire premise of the cloud—rent, don’t own—Ruiz de Eguilaz says Seidor MENA is often able to help customers make the jump into the cloud because many of those businesses aren’t encumbered with huge estates of legacy IT.
“Here in the Middle East, the adoption of cloud is quite high,” Ruiz de Eguilaz said.
“And I believe that’s mainly because some of these customers simply aren’t technologically mature. So at this stage, when they need a solution, they’re ready to go with the latest trends. They don’t have a huge legacy system like you find with big companies in Europe. For us, that means there’s a very good opportunity because customers are open to the cloud.”
But as both Ruiz de Eguilaz and Laham emphasized, simply offering the latest whiz-bang technology from SAP and others is not enough in these fast-paced times where companies have only relatively short periods in which to adapt to the new digital world. Along with the latest cloud technologies, strategic solutions providers must also be able to offer insightful, timely and practical strategic guidance.
At the very center of guidance is the ability for a company like Seidor MENA to help its customers understand that simply lifting and shifting current processes to the cloud will not be enough to help those companies compete in the fast-paced and unforgiving digital economy. So cloud-ecosystem partners are playing an increasingly different—and strategic—role in helping clients reimagine their futures:
new business models;
new engagement models;
new revenue models;
new product-development models;
new talent models; and
an entirely new mindset for being able to move at the speed of the markets around them.
“That’s something that the big companies sometimes overlook when they’re formulating their digital-transformation strategy: it has to be perfectly aligned with the business strategy,” Laham said. “So that’s always a question we ask: ‘Looking past today, what’s your business strategy for the next 3-5 years?’ ” Laham said.
“It’s part sprint but mainly it’s a marathon—you can’t burn all the stamina in the first 500 meters because all of a sudden you’re out of budget, you’re out of resources, you’re out of everything…and then unfortunately you’re out of the market.”
In that type of frenzied business environment, Ruiz de Eguilaz said, “Cloud is really starting to make sense for a lot more companies” that “just don’t have the time to keep track of all the latest trends in technology or operations. They’re looking for experts that can really step in and provide that strategic advice and help their business grow.”
That capability to move faster than ever before is essential for every company in every industry today, and it was a major factor in helping Seidor MENA deliver a high-impact solution to the regional operator of McDonalds restaurants.
Seidor MENA worked closely with the leadership of Emirates Fast Food Co., which operates 170 McDonalds restaurants, to deploy modern mobile and cloud solutions to help McDonalds UAE’s 4,000 employees deliver great experiences to customers.
In a press release on the Seidor MENA website, Ruiz de Eguilaz offered an overview of the role his company played in helping McDonalds UAE prepare for future growth, emphasizing how the company will now be able to “shift time from managing IT to focusing on higher-level business strategy”:
“In their digital transformation journey, McDonald’s UAE is using SAP S/4HANA Public Cloud to shift time from managing IT to focus on higher-level business strategy across finance, sales, procurement, and recruitment. In this respect, apart from streamlining their day-to-day HR operations with SAP SuccessFactors, we have provided out of the box accommodation management solution specifically designed for their business needs, fully integrated with SAP Cloud EC Payroll. McDonald’s UAE is ideally positioned to become a future-ready Intelligent Enterprise that can meet the demands of the quick-service industry of tomorrow.”
And as Laham sees it, that type of achievement that used to signal the “end” of a project now becomes the beginning of an opportunity to deliver greater value to the customer by continuing to be a strategic advisor that pushes customers to innovate, grow, and excel. Because in today’s digital world, innovation can no longer be treated as a project for which a single part of the company has responsibility. Rather, innovation has become an ongoing and relentless imperative across the entire organization.
“You have to be proactive and you always have to follow up,” Laham said.
“You have to always ask, and not wait to be asked. You need to say, ‘Okay, what else do you need? What is it that you’re missing? How can I help take your business to the next level?’ ”
That total focus on ongoing customer success has come to define Seidor MENA here at the dawn of the digital economy, said Ruiz de Eguilaz.
“We want to do this as a journey with our customers, so we ask, ‘Are you certain that’s the best approach—what are the options? And some of our customers have been doing this with us for 30 years, and that proves that we really care about their business because if we can help them to grow, then we will grow with them.
“This is our culture.”
This article is brought to you by Seidor MENA.