Cloud is the latest buzz in the IT market, and we at Forrester have covered this quite extensively. As I reflect on 2011, this is a theme that has also played prominently in many collaboration vendor discussions — because it is a fundamentally better business model to deliver collaboration technology to users. Faster version cycle times, simplified management of deployed software, reduced TCO of a shared pool of cloud resources, and serving information workers directly are just some of the varied benefits for users, buyers, and vendors. The direct connection to end users is a key to accelerating adoption in the collaboration and growing social markets.
At their Collaboration Summit, Cisco affirmed their commitment to delivering cloud services. They described Cisco WebEx (web conferencing and meeting) and Cisco CallWay (video conferencing) as part of the Cisco Collaboration Cloud — and having used both of these, I can say with certainty that they are usable, simple, and appealing.
I believe that Cisco’s secret to success will be their robust channels approach. Richard McLeod, senior director handling worldwide channels for collaboration sales, runs programs for traditional channel partners helping to install and run collaboration solutions on premise. Others at Cisco, such as Amanda Jobbins, VP global partner marketing, spend a lot of their time thinking about service providers as channels and how Cisco can help them succeed. These leaders look for products Cisco has designed to deliver collaboration capable clouds — and is working to advance the adoption of them — for example:
Cisco VideoScape — a new video networking solution allowing combinations of video and collaboration content from multiple sources and to be delivered to multiple endpoints.
Being based out of Dubai and so close to all the action, I was so anxious to start digging in and talking to tech vendors to get their reactions on what's happening in the region. In my latest report I decided to answer a question that's been on everybody's mind: "What’s happening to the IT market in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in the midst of the recent political unrest, the Arab Spring?" While it's not easy to answer the question as demonstrations are still happening and elections are still pending the report presents a snapshot of the current state of the IT market in MENA.
Following the Arab Spring, Forrester revised downward its IT spending forecasts by more than 2% for the MENA region in 2011. Many distributors were stuck with large PC inventories or had delivered inventory to their clients and have yet to receive payments. A lot of public sector projects were also put on hold as national governments were shaken by the recent political events. As a result, vendors in the region have reallocated some their resources currently located in heavily affected countries, e.g., Egypt, Libya, and Syria, to countries that need more attention, such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Many vendors are also taking a more regional approach and are expanding their presence from their base countries into the rest of MENA.