Channel chief: Ghassan Abou Rjeily, Riverbed
Ghassan Abou Rjeily, Regional Channel Sales Manager – Emerging EMEA, Riverbed

Channel chief: Ghassan Abou Rjeily, Riverbed

Ghassan Abou Rjeily, Regional Channel Sales Manager, Emerging EMEA, Riverbed, explains how the company performs all its business through the channel ecosystem to drive growth in the region. He also explains how AI and cloud adoptions will play a major role in defining the channel ecosystem.

Describe your current job role and a summary of the business model of your organisation?

I lead the role of Regional Channel Sales and Alliance Manager looking after of the Emerging EMEA region. Riverbed performs all business through the channel ecosystem. The channel community with their local connections and expertise proved this model to be the best in driving demand in the region. In line with this, my responsibility is to develop our channel and empower our partners to ensure that they are fully equipped with all the technical and sales knowledge they need to address customers’ interests and develop our business. Additionally, I handle our alliances with technology vendors at a regional level. This largely involves aligning with them on our GTM strategies and engaging with joint partners in providing bundled solutions to our customers.

What are your strengths and abilities that you bring to the above role?

I have a deep and extensive techno-commercial experience. Holding a master’s degree in computer and communication engineering, I began my career as a technical engineer in the field and attended to challenging customer cases. I have also been a PMP certified project manager since 2012. I have handled many complex projects in Information Technology and homeland security. Furthermore, I have led diverse teams from operations, professional services, sales, marketing, procurement, finance and business development. My strength is being able to understand and act with multiple stakeholders and deliver quality results by applying all the accumulated knowledge in methods, processes and tools to accelerate the development of the partners.

Please describe the opportunities and challenges that exist for channel partners in your market?

While emerging EMEA presents many opportunities for channel partners, navigating the region’s complex regulatory environment, fierce competition and cultural diversity can be challenging. However, with the right knowledge, skills and expertise, channel partners can thrive in this dynamic and growing market. An agile approach is needed in addressing the different demands from every country, industry vertical or even sometimes the nuances of specific customer accounts.

Our distributors and channel partners play a major role in amortizing the impact and providing the needed flexibility to our customers. And Riverbed provides all the support possible to meet in the middle without jeopardizing the business.

For example, we face forex challenges in countries like Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa where partners can potentially incur significant losses due to delayed payments in local currency which fluctuates from one day to the other.

However, challenges are sometimes opportunities for other partners to capture and benefit from. Reverting to the example above, some partners are acting now like banks to absorb the differences in the forex exchange. These partners usually own branches in foreign stable countries and use their strong liquidity to fund projects from local partners that own the relationships with customers.

Which technologies and innovations can make a difference to the channel market dynamics in the near future?

From a business model point of view, the channel community would need to evolve to address the market with an open mind. A smart partner would need to create consortiums with other partners by evaluating their strength and their addressable markets. They need to cease growing their teams in a reactive manner and rather address customers request through alliances and co-operation with other partners.

From solutions and services offerings, they will need to have the flexibility to sell anything As-a-Service to help customers to spend more from their OPEX rather than their CAPEX budgets. The customer should have the flexibility to buy a service on a subscription basis or via a managed services approach. This would introduce new products such as Visibility-as-a-Service, Acceleration-as-a-Service or Visibility Operation Centres. These are all Riverbed solutions that can be sold to customers As-a-Service.

From a technology standpoint, I believe that Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cloud adoptions are going to play a major role in defining the channel ecosystem. AI has already started transforming the way businesses operate and will continue to do so in the near and long term. With AI, businesses can automate various processes and make data-driven decisions, which can help them become more efficient and effective.

How can a channel partner disrupt the regional market and gain a leading competitive position?

System Integrators are one-stop-shops for multiple technologies. Their resources are experts in understanding all compatibilities between the different solutions and how these technologies, bundled together, could help customers in addressing their painpoints. Among the strategies that a channel partner can explore to differentiate itself are:

Value proposition: Offer unique solutions that set the channel partner apart from the competition. This could include things like exclusive products or services or bundling multiple technologies that meet the needs of the local market.

Competitive pricing: Pricing can be a powerful tool for disrupting the market and gaining a competitive advantage. By offering lower prices, more flexible payment options, or other incentives, partners can attract customers away from incumbent providers.

Which aspects of your job role do you find rewarding and which challenging?

    The rewarding part is when we see more than 40% of our business initiated and led by our partners. This shows how relevant our solutions are to our customers and it makes our job easier to drive more business. The challenge remains in fulfiling all of our different partners’ needs as that varies from one region to the other under one partner program.

    How do you best like to de-stress and re-charge off work?

    After long days of attending to the requests coming from the partners in our huge region, de-stressing requires multiple approaches: physical, emotional and spiritual. I follow a good balance among doing sports, going out with friends and family and prayer in the form of meditation.

    How do you think time-off will transform in the metaverse and in the digital world?

    The technology is rapidly evolving to make the metaverse a more sensory-rich and engaging experience, where people could engage in activities such as attending virtual concerts, participating in virtual sports, or simply relaxing in a virtual environment. That said, I still believe that time-off should be away from screens and virtual realities and rather spent in a more realistic environment.

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