‘Software piracy is a very serious problem in the Middle East’
McAfee, one of the leading providers of IT security software solutions, is increasing its investments in the region – encouraged by the consistent growth in business over the past five years.
Increased levels of awareness about the importance of security software and the threats lurking on the internet has spurred the growth, Patrick Hayati, regional director, Middle East and Mediterranean at McAfee, told Emirates Business. However, he still sees challenges to doing business in the region, including the fact that software piracy costs the company more than 40 to 50 per cent in revenue losses.
How big is the market for IT security systems in the Middle East?
The market is expanding and it is definitely growing very actively. Actually, the growth is twice the rate in Western Europe. However, the growth of security spend is proportionate everywhere but here in the Middle East; IT security was something that was taken lightly. But it is no longer an incidental purchase.
There is a greater realisation, especially in the banking and financial sector that there is little point in investing after the problem has occurred. Big efforts are made in this direction and we have organisations in the region that are more protected than their Western counterparts.
How serious is the issue of pirated software in the region and how do you tackle it?
It is indeed a serious issue in the Middle East. We lose about 40 to 50 per cent of our revenue because of piracy. And there are different forms of piracy that are posing a threat other than the illegal copying of the original software.
Companies sharing software among more users than is permitted and the usage of software after its expiry are all forms of piracy. It is a worldwide phenomenon but in the Middle East it is a serious problem.
Can you elaborate on the challenges to IT security posed by hackers?
In the past, viruses were mostly programmes to harm the system or machine, and erase the data. But today the focus is rapidly changing to financial gains. So it is no longer about erasing data; it is about accessing information, personal data and financial details.
Our aim at McAfee is to stop the access to data and make sure that the organisations comply with the international standards of security.
What do you think is the level of awareness among consumers about IT security in the region?
There is an increasing level of awareness about the need for IT security. Companies are ready to spend because of that high awareness level. That is why we believe that education is the key to spur growth. We rarely resort to legal action to confront problems. The first step is to educate our customers.
How much money do you spend in creating awareness?
Our target consumers are the enterprise sector and the best way to educate them is on a one-on-one basis, rather than through mass communication. The end users may not see any McAfee ads because at the moment they are not our focus point.
What is your market share for individual and corporate users in the Middle East?
Our market share is higher in the enterprise segment than among individual users. But in the future, this is one area we will definitely focus on in the region.
How have the sales of McAfee security solutions software been in the Middle East in the past five years?
Our growth has been good and in proportion with the economic growth witnessed in the region. That is one reason we are increasing our investment here; we are increasing our head count by 25 per cent this year. We will also have more people in countries such as Turkey and Greece.
What are your projections for growth in the future?
We are optimistic. We don’t see any reason to think that the region is slowing down. As far as investment and growth is concerned, this is one place McAfee will continue to invest.
In the future, will McAfee take the Linux route and introduce an open code system for your software?
You have to keep protection measures secret. If the industry is completely open, the efforts will be counter productive.
Regional Director, Middle East and Mediterranean, McAfee
Hayati leads a team of sales, pre-sales, consultants and support engineers across the region. He joined McAfee with the objective of boosting growth within all segments of the security market.
Since he joined five years ago, the company has experienced major growth throughout the region, having launched various operations in Greece, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Before McAfee, Hayati worked with Hewlett Packard as regional director for the financial services industry, Middle East.
He has also worked for Compaq and NCR. Under his leadership, McAfee has transformed into a security leader with a strong emphasis on customer satisfaction. McAfee’s business has seen a significant increase in market share, which has been supported by major investments in local resources.
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