With GITEX Technology Week Exhibition going on this week, and RSA Abu Dhabi set to start the first week of November, the end of the year puts the Middle East under the spotlight for all things tech and security. In this Q&A with Nick Leighton, CEO of Convoy partner NettResults, we talk Middle East PR and discuss why the region is becoming a more prominent market for B2B tech companies and cybersecurity.
Who is NettResults and what’s your role in Middle East PR?
We’re a results-oriented public relations and marketing company serving a broad range of international clients. We have a wealth of expertise in enterprise tech and cybersecurity. It’s all about results – hence the name – and providing a positive return on investment for all of our clients.
We operate across the Middle East region from our head office in Dubai. We also own satellite offices in Abu Dhabi, Jeddah and Riyadh, and have consultants in all ME countries.
As in the rest of the world, Middle East PR and marketing communications has changed massively over the years. But if I had to pick the top five areas where we’ve been focusing with our clients, media relations, crisis communications, media training, integrated marketing and social media/digital represent the heart of what we do.
Is the Middle East becoming a prominent market that enterprise tech and cybersecurity companies should be targeting?
Data published by Research and Markets earlier this year predicts that the Middle East cybersecurity market will almost double in the next five years, up from $11.38bn in 2017 to $22.14bn by 2022.
Much of this growth is driven by government expenditure, with protection of the oil, gas and defence industries leading the charge. Healthcare, and recognition by smaller businesses of their own cybersecurity needs, will also play a role in this growth.
Research and Markets notes that across these sectors, the key drivers for this increased outlay are factors such as the “need to mitigate IT security risks and threats, including malware, ransomware, and advanced persistent threats, along with a rising enterprise mobility trend across organizations”.
The bottom line is that if you’re in the business of enterprise tech or cybersecurity you can’t afford not to be targeting the Middle East market. There is a need, and there is budget.
What should enterprise tech and security companies expect when approaching the MENA market? Any key recommendations to follow and stereotypes to avoid?
It’s true that we’re becoming a global economy, but at the end of the day, people buy from people, and therefore the foundation for successful sales and marketing in the MENA market comes down to understanding people and the local audience.
The MENA market is big, but there are two key areas of focus.
First, there is Dubai (United Arab Emirates), which acts as the hub for the region in terms of logistics, intellectual property, the technology industry, and media. This market is complex in its makeup. For a high-value technology sale, there are likely to be many people involved in the buying decision, and it’s likely there will be an equal number of nationalities on that team.
Out of a population of 9.2 million in the country, expatriates make up about 7.8 million and the Emirati nationals hold a population share of 1.4 million. With a vast demographic variation, there are a high number of nationalities. If you’re communicating to this diverse demographic your message needs to be crystal clear. And when using marketing and media relations tactics, there are multiple vehicles to get your message to the target audience.
Second, due to the absolute buying power and availability of liquid funds, there should be a focus on the Royal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). This is typically more challenging for Western technology companies, as the culture is very different from their own. Visibility into this country is not good, and control within the country can be challenging. It takes an experienced marketing team that fully understands the cultural nuances to avoid making embarrassing and/or costly mistakes.
What trends are you particularly keeping an eye on?
We’re keenly following four factors locally.
PwC has previously commented that “companies in the Middle East are in the top 10 in the world in terms of their investment in cybersecurity technology, but in the bottom 50 for education and training in this area”. We agree and this is certainly a significant opportunity for the right solution provider.
Big data is sweeping the region and with that comes related cyber protection.
The region has ambitious plans to have smart cities and leverage IoT. With the increase of digitization, vulnerability increases.
The quick adoption of some governments is going to be interesting and possibly groundbreaking. Not only has Dubai recently published its cybersecurity strategy, the emirate is planning to have a blockchain-powered government by 2020.
What are the best Middle East PR security clients you’ve managed so far?
Sorry, for their security (and perhaps ours too) we can’t tell you! Ok, we’re kidding. What we can tell you is that we represent new, innovative security clients who are taking off, and some are the largest (by brand recognition and market capitalization).
Our client base is typically comprised of international companies that desire to, or currently have, a small footprint in the region and have high growth aspirations. In this instance, we can centralise services (normally in Dubai) and outreach to multiple countries. This may include launching into a region that has its own special circumstances and cultural nuances.
For larger clients, we offer in-country services wherever they are needed across MENA, centrally managed so they can be efficiently integrated with the client.
RSA is known to be a US-based event. In the last few years RSA has tried to build a more global feel. How do you rank and view RSA among the existing tradeshows in the Middle East?
RSA is without doubt the most focused and professional event to participate in all year for enterprise tech and cybersecurity in the Middle East. We’ve had clients at the event since its inception, and we always get positive feedback from them regarding the event and the business they can generate from it.
How can businesses build success in the Middle East, particularly at trade shows like RSA Abu Dhabi?
As the saying goes – success is where preparation meets opportunity. RSA is where the opportunity is going to be, so now all that’s left is to prepare for it. Visibility is not rocket science. At NettResults, we know the event, the industry, and the media, so the key to success here is having the maximum amount of time to prepare.
In a nutshell, the most successful companies at RSA 2017 are the ones that are not going to procrastinate and will start moving on their locally relevant marketing campaign today. We’re certainly going to be at RSA – we look forward to seeing you there.
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