Avaya zeroes in on Middle East SMEs

US firm shifts focus

Telecoms provider says smaller firms are fastest to adapt

Triska Hamid

The US telecoms provider Avaya is shifting its focus in the Middle East to small businesses after its operations in the countries affected by the Arab Spring came to a standstill.

Avaya wants to boost its regional business by tapping into the 10 millionsmall and medium enterprises SMEs) in the Middle East.

"We have always been in the mid-market, but we used to address it with voice solutions only," said Nidal Abou-Ltaif,the vice president of Middle East, Africa and Turkey at Avaya.

"But we have now realised that SMEs want to use all the collaboration features.

During the tough economic times they were the fastest to adapt technology and hire young people who are behind the 'bring-your-own-device' trend."

"The new big" strategy, as Avaya is labelling it, integrates all an SME's emails and applications in one virtualised space so that users are not bound to their desktops.

"It will improve efficiency and productivity and gives employees a choice [of devices]," said Mr Abou-Ltaif.

In the past six months, Avaya said there had been a 20 per cent growth in the uptake of these services within the SME sector, with greater growth expected over the next few months.

"The highest growth is coming from Africa, but the big revenue continues to be from the GCC," said Mr Abou-Ltaif. "Business in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia is not growing, but it is not dead. There is a sense of surviving, but it has slowed down a lot, especially in Egypt."

SMEs have been noted as key to driving GDP growth in the region.

Nasdaq Dubai is currently preparing to launch the first SME equity market in the Middle East.

According to the bourse, some 72,000 SMEs generate 40 per cent of Dubai's GDP. The SME sector is forecast to grow 14 per cent per year to US$15 billion (Dh55.09bn) by 2015.

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