There is a major gap between what Information Technology (IT) vendors in the Middle East preach and what they practice, according to the IT Director's survey recently released by Gulf Hill & Knowlton (GHK). One of the major criticisms that emerged from the survey, conducted among over 60 IT directors throughout the region, was the poor quality of regional/local information available to them on vendors’ websites.
The web was identified as the primary initial source of information by 75 percent of respondents but leading international vendors offer, at best, a second rate version of the facilities available to customers elsewhere in the world. Basic information such as regional availability of products, pricing, specifications and contact details are, according to those surveyed, among key requirements missing from most regional sites.
“The pages of the region's newspapers and trade media are full of vendors talking about the impact of the digital revolution and the importance of e-business,” says James Mullan, who heads the Technology Group at GHK. “At the same time, however, very few of them are acting on their own words. The irony is not lost on their customers in the Middle East.”
The companies surveyed covered the finance, tourism, oil and gas, retail industries as well as government, telcos, media and cargo industries. It was conducted throughout the Middle East among companies based in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan and Oman. GHK believes that the findings indicate a problem that many companies operating in the region need to confront, namely the failure to treat communication with external audiences as an issue of ‘business critical importance'.
Another significant criticism that emerged from the survey was that many vendors do not understand their customers' business well enough. Several respondents gave instances where they, the customer, had pointed out to a vendor the particular solution from that vendor's portfolio that was most appropriate for their business. Part of the reason for this failure, it appears, is down to a ‘one-track sales mentality' on the part of many leading vendors where their priorities are not necessarily shared by their customers.
Good news for local/regional companies is that they are judged to be almost as good at communicating with customers as their international counterparts. Some 51 percent of respondents judged international vendors to be the best communicators, whereas 41 percent said that local/regional vendors were better at speaking with them.
GHK is a public relations consultancy operating in the Middle East with offices in Bahrain, Dubai, Riyadh and Jeddah as well as affiliates in Lebanon, Pakistan and Egypt. The company employs more than 50 people throughout the region, working for over 40 clients. GHK is the second largest public relations consultancy in the world, with 60 offices in 34 countries and more than 2,000 employees. WPP Group plc, the parent company of GHK, employs more than 30,000 people in 91 countries. — (menareport.com)
© 2002 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )