Lessons Learned at ADIPEC 2017 about Partnerships and Middle East Tech Adoption
By Leigh Villegas, Director of Marketing & Communications, Aegex Technologies LLC
The 2017 Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition & Conference (ADIPEC) last week was an opportunity for Aegex Technologies to interface with companies from every part of the oil & gas supply and delivery chain, from extraction and production to distribution and support. In our efforts to identify new distributors and resellers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and elsewhere in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Middle East region, we encountered customers who are eager to adopt technologies that can improve the safety and efficiency of their operations. We also found a variety of local partners who can support our efforts to provide our safe mobile technology – like the aegex10 Intrinsically Safe Tablet - to those customers.
Some important lessons Aegex learned at ADIPEC 2017 include:
Technology vendors benefit from having a local agent in each country in the Middle East.
Aegex already had some distribution partners in the UAE, but our participation at ADIPEC 2017 aimed at developing additional and more broad-reaching relationships with local agents, both in the UAE and regionally. Local partners, we have learned, are necessary to manage the regulatory and relationship-building activities required to complete sales and sustain long-term partnerships. Aegex’s first glimpse during the show of the value of local partnerships was through the other Dutch companies exhibiting in the IRO lounge of the Holland Pavilion. Netherlands-based companies like Exxfire, for example, were effectively using their local agents in Abu Dhabi to not only represent them at the exhibition but also to make important introductions for Dutch executives to their counterparts in local customer companies. Whether the local agent was a very large company that represented multiple brands or a small agent that represented only one foreign company, we saw that local agents were invaluable for understanding and complying with local regulations, business practices and cultural customs in each country in the region. Our local partners – existing ones, the 5 new ones we acquired during ADIPEC 2017, and the 15 potential ones we met – will be of immeasurable assistance to Aegex in maneuvering through all of the legal, technical and logistical requirements for doing business in the Middle East.
Choose a partner who has established, proven relationships with targeted customers.
Very large oil & gas organizations in the Middle East like the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) are often state-owned and can be comprised of upwards of 30 different companies. Local distribution partners that have developed long-term relationships with specific individuals in these companies seem to have better opportunities, as personal relationships are extremely important in Middle Eastern business culture. Also, knowledge of the customer’s and country’s particular regulatory and legal requirements is a must. A local partner who has proven experience with the multiple layers of certifications and authorizations required to sell in each country and to each targeted customer is paramount.
Advanced technologies are desired by Middle Eastern oil & gas organizations, but local customization is required.
Companies we met at ADIPEC 2017 seemed to be more open than last year to adopting new technologies like our aegex10 IS Tablet that can improve efficiency and reduce costs. However, certain adaptations may be needed to meet local requirements. For instance, high security protocols at ADNOC and other regional oil & gas companies require us to provide aegex10 IS Tablets with no cameras, nor with even the outward appearance of a space for a camera. While this requirement may preclude the use of certain applications like RFID tag scanning, video communication, facial recognition and a whole host of other camera-based technologies that are increasingly improving industrial operations elsewhere, respect for local regulations is the only way to begin supplying to customers in this region. As one potential customer told Aegex during the show, restrictive regulations are beginning to loosen as they adapt to emerging technologies, so complying with them now to get in the door will pave the way for modernizing the industry as a whole in the region.
Digital transformation in Middle East oil & gas will come from strategic partnerships that offer joint solutions in technology innovation.
Aegex’s efforts in the region are reinforced and furthered by our relationships with strategic technology partners like Microsoft and OSIsoft who showcased our aegex10 IS Tablet at their booths during the ADIPEC exhibition. Demonstrating how cloud-based data management can be enhanced by connected devices like the Aegex tablet was helpful for teaching potential customers about the benefits of our joint solution for operational efficiency. We met dozens of new technology partners whose software or platforms or complementary hardware can provide exciting new opportunities in oil & gas when implemented in hazardous areas via our aegex10 IS Tablet. By bringing our technology partner applications into the most hazardous environments with our intrinsically safe tablets, oil & gas companies can truly reduce risk and cost and improve productivity, not only in the Middle East, but worldwide.