Avid's Hicham Ismail tells Digital Studio about the current business climate, challenges and potential for growth in the Middle East.
DB: How have you found the business climate over the past 12 months?
Hicham Ismail: We do see that there are more conservative investments in general. For Avid, because we are well established in the region, the general slowdown in the industry hasn’t affected us as much though.
We had quite a few big deals that we closed in the last 12 months mostly with the bigger broadcasters. We have seen a hesitation in upgrades and investments from the smaller broadcasters and the post houses who have less of a financial backing but a big chunk of our customers are government related with strong financial power.
DB: What have been the most significant challenges that you face as a business in the region?
HI: Where the technology is headed will require broadcasters to make major changes to their infrastructure which will require a significant financial investment.
From one end this makes customers more hesitant to upgrade parts of their infrastructure now, replacing their current solution with newer equipment, given how the industry is moving to virtualisation and the cloud.
Although they all know that they will eventually need to jump on that wagon, most are waiting to see how the few companies leading this change will be affected first before they follow suit. Also the huge investment that this technology brings affects opex vs. capex. The entire structure and infrastructure of businesses need to change. Everyone is waiting to see this vision develop into more concrete solutions.
DB: Do you see the business climate improving in the coming 12 months?
HI: We don’t see a drastic change in the business climate over the next 12 months. As long as the region is occupied in wars, there will be no real stability and no major changes to the climate.
The broadcast business is affected by the entire economic situation in the region.
DB: What have been the positive points from the past year?
HI: Technology is advancing in a very exciting direction. We have been improving our product offering and are providing more advanced solutions that are in line with where the technology is headed. As we expand our offerings, we are thinking and coping with the technological advancements like virtualisation, cloud services, video over IP etcetera.
DB: Where do you see the main opportunities in the region going forward?
HI: The industry is moving towards the cloud, that is the biggest visible opportunity at the moment as we start seeing broadcasters’ interest and future investment plans going in that direction. In terms of geography, due to the recent regional changes, political changes often create political and business challenges. As a way of overcoming these challenges, this could create new business opportunities in affected countries. We need to wait and see.