Member Focus: Doing Business in the UAE

Mohammed-Yusef_editWith CompTIA being a truly global organisation, we want to share member stories from around the globe. In this article, we introduce Mohammed Yusuf, director of Dubai-based MSP Burhani Managed IT, who shares his experience and insight on being an MSP in the UAE and trends in the Middle East.

Can you please tell us about your company?

Burhani was set up back in 2003 as we identified a need to support the wide range of businesses in Dubai. Initially looking at supplying hardware and infrastructure this changed to the model we have today, offering consultancy, services and ongoing support for our clients and their staff.  Over the years, we have been very successful, and have grown year-on-year increasing both the profitability of the business and the staff we employ.

Have you always worked in IT and technology?

Through school, I always had an interest in science and technology. I went to university, where I undertook an honours degree in computer science. This gave me a good grounding. I worked for a while for a couple of different companies before joining Burhani. As well as my passion for technology, I also enjoy design and marketing, both of which are now heavily influenced by the capabilities that technology has delivered.   

After 12 years in business have you seen the market change much and how?

The market here has seen considerable change. Dubai itself has seen tremendous growth over the years, attracting new businesses and often the need to build new network infrastructure and data centres. This has changed over the last few years with the importance shifting from infrastructure to support, and a greater focus on business processes and services.

Is the UAE/Middle Eastern market strong?

Like many economies, there has been significant fluctuation, but these have been at a global level. The UAE has the second largest economy in the Arab world and the market for IT and services continues to grow. After all, if businesses can make more profit by getting systems and staff working with greater efficiency, it benefits everyone – including the economy.

What are the trends in UAE and do you feel that these mirrors the UK?

Like most countries, we are seeing an increase in the demand for cloud based services or SaaS. However, the dream of cloud only business has not come to fruition, as there is still reluctance to move away from a hybrid model to cloud only. I think this is probably the same in most countries.

A few years ago, many forecasted that the Middle East would see the highest cloud traffic growth. Do you think this has been the case and, if not, why not?

We see a lot of demand for cloud services but not sure that we have grown any faster than the UK or other places. There certainly can be reluctance for cloud within the public sector here and cloud services are growing rapidly.

What are the primary concerns of the businesses you work with?

Most businesses we work with worry about support and things going wrong, they also worry about their ability to work and accessing the right expertise. Some of our clients have had bad experiences working with companies that did not understand their needs or systems. This has been a driver for our success, as we take the time to understand our clients and have a great team to support them. With such a wide assortment of businesses in the UAE, do you focus on one sector?

Dubai and the UAE have a varied range of organisations from across the globe. Being an oil producing nation, we also have a wide range of companies working within that sector. We currently work with many companies across many different markets and look for clients who understand the importance of IT and technology, and value building relationships, rather than an industry.

One challenge for many UK MSPs is being able to sell into regulated industries; as these have many rules. Is this a challenge in the UAE also?

Yes, with many of the companies in Dubai and the UAE trading globally, including over 5,000 British companies, many of the regulations and rules for the company are being applied at a global level. Therefore we often run into the same challenges when dealing with these types of organisations.

Are there any ways that business and sales work differently in the UAE?

Not really. Timing can be a little different. Our weekends are Fridays and Saturdays and sometimes clients can operate on their own timescales. It is not unusual to be half an hour late for a meeting. Clients also enjoy negotiating, which is not exclusive to our region, but we are very good at it. It is important to be able to deliver what you say and build credibility, as testimonials and personal recommendations will make sure you are in business for a long time.

What made you become a CompTIA member?

CompTIA is undoubtedly one of the oldest and most respected IT associations globally, and we are truly honoured to be appointed as CompTIA’s first and only Premier Member in the entire Middle East. Ever since our inception more than a decade ago, we have always strived to drive continual internal service improvements by associating ourselves with world-class vendors and organizations.

Have you used any of the content and templates for your businesses?

Yes, we have set up a dedicated process-improvement department at our fledging offshore NOC Centre of Excellence facilities in Mumbai, India, where we study and implement these resources for our clients.

What would you say to other people and companies thinking about joining CompTIA?

It’s really a no-brainer! [MSPs] can only differentiate themselves via their people and processes. CompTIA is an invaluable resource to help both train your people as well as adopt industry best practices, which ultimately help MSPs drive higher profitability and deliver an excellent client experience. Our only regret is not having joined CompTIA earlier.