SAGE is planning aggressive development across the Middle East region as the financial crisis wanes and has been discussing prospects with customers across the Middle East, including in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
"We consider this region strategic for our growth and this is where we invest the most. The objective for us is to create a complete sustainable business from Dubai, branches are a possibility depending on the number of customers in each region, so we are not concentrating here, but focusing growth on any country that develops a large structure, so that we can continue respecting the local aspects of their business," Fernand Rasetti, chief operating officer of SAGE told ITP.net.
According to Rasetti, the Middle East banking market is brand new and has a lot of needs, with many of the banks requiring much more advanced systems then they either have in place, or have in mind. "A customer will come with something fresh and new and say this is what I need, but in fact what they need is way more than that, they just did not have the background to assess it properly," he said.
In a young market such as in the Middle East, the requirements are not mature enough to be properly listed and companies such as SAGE have a much higher chance of success and a higher chance of being able to respond to customer needs, according to SAGE.
"We opened our office four years ago [in Dubai] and with our strategy of developing our business in the region this office is able to provide structure and support. We believe support has to be local to address cultural issues and different working hours. Our idea is to cover the region and this is a regional office for us, it is very important for us to be as broad as possible in the Middle East," said Rasetti.
With the financial crisis in the region over the last two years, the banking system itself has changed, according to SAGE; banks are a lot more risk averse because they have had to rethink their business.
"Investment in the region has stopped, the banks are struggling with corporate debt, they spent more time in renegotiating debt than focusing into strategic solutions for the future and the way it affected us, in the beginning of course was the slowing down, but right now it is positive. As the banks rethink their business they have to search for solutions that address their future needs," said Rasetti.
In the past the banks were really focusing on the creditors, while now the portfolio is becoming something very important and is growing. Although growth in the market for SAGE is not as big as it was before the financial crisis, it is on the upswing.
"W are already seeing a lot of reaction in the market, even prospects that were very active in the past and then stopped, are now discussing [solutions] with us again, so you can see there is a recovery already. So far we have had a sense it will be a really positive market for us, we are getting very busy. There are a lot of signs that reassure us of the choice," Rasetti said.