IT customers in large enterprises are making faster purchasing decisions than before the advent of global financial crisis, said an official at software multinational Computer Associates (CA).
The sales cycle has dropped to just three months from the previous 18 to 24 months.
"Customers know what they want and how to evaluate it – and they want it quickly," said Maria Medvedeva, Regional Director, Technology, at CA – Middle East, North Africa and Turkey.
"There is an obvious economic impact and the economy is slow, therefore budgets are being evaluated carefully. Customers are not cutting their budgets but they want to invest wisely." Medvedeva said earlier buyers wanted everything but now they were purchasing only the equipment they needed.
"As these customers prioritise their IT operations it is definitely back to basics for infrastructure solutions and not a question of buying something that is nice to have." CA is seeing the same pattern across the region.
Antoine Al Ibry, Principal consultant for Business Service Management, said: "We are not seeing any cutting down of budgets in Saudi Arabia but customers are trying to get better solutions for the same budget. "In November and December we did more bundling of our solutions for this year, therefore our pipeline is strong."
CA is looking aggressively at the government and financial sector for expansion of its operations in 2009.
Medvedeva said: "We believe we will penetrate the financial industry more as there will be a lot of consolidation. We are closing contracts this quarter from the financial sector. The banks in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Gulf have more secured credit than unsecured countries such as the US."
A CA user group set up to provide a forum for the development and exchange of ideas and information in the region has attracted more than 100 business customers.
"Top spenders from the financial, oil and gas sectors using mainframe technologies have joined," said Medvedeva.
"CA never looks at construction. It has never been part of our core customer base as it doesn't need any thing more than portfolio management. Construction companies just need one or two servers and therefore we are not interested in that sector. We serve the telecoms, government and financial sectors as they are stable."