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Mannai Builds Cities of the Future with an Eye on Qatar’s National Vision

By Ramchandra Pawar, Practice Leader, Business Critical Systems, Mannai InfoTech, Mannai Trading Company WLL

Established in 1950 in Qatar, Mannai Corporation has been responsible for the successful execution of many national-level ICT projects over the last three decades and has been the country’s largest systems integrator for many years.

Mannai is a top-level partner for many major ICT vendors, and its customers span across a wide range of industries, from government; Banking, and Financial Services, to Insurance (BFSI); healthcare; telecom; energy; transportation; and education sectors. In 2018, Mannai’s annual ICT business revenue was US$600 million, a year-on-year growth of 31 percent.

Meeting the Needs of a Rapidly Developing Country

Qatar is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. In 2019, Qatar ranked first in the Arab world and seventh out of 128 countries in the Global Finance Safety Index (which ranks nations in terms of investment safety).

Over the past decade, Qatar’s overall development has led to several major international event hosting opportunities. For example, Qatar made history in 2010, becoming the first Middle Eastern country to win the bid for hosting rights of the FIFA World Cup, when it was nominated as host for the 2022 tournament. Four years later, the country was elected host of the prestigious 2019 World Athletics Championships.

These developments have resulted in an increased demand for Qatar to construct world-class infrastructure — particularly Intelligent Cities — and provide related services. Recognizing the growing demand for smart solutions domestically, Qatar is actively engaged in building the cities of the future. In line with its National Vision 2030, which aims to “transform Qatar into an advanced society capable of achieving sustainable development,” the country has embarked on a journey to develop Intelligent Cities and enhance the nation’s security.

In mid-2017, Mannai’s leadership decided to partner with Huawei, believing that the Chinese vendor could be a major contributor toward achieving Qatar’s National Vision 2030 of Intelligent City development projects.

After the partnership was agreed, Mannai’s management team visited Huawei’s HQ in Shenzhen, as well as its R&D centers, boosting their confidence in their decision to partner with Huawei. The team was impressed with Huawei’s varied solutions, which include End-to-End (E2E) ICT products, AI, data center facilities, backbone transmission networks, and Intelligent City and security infrastructure. Crucially, Huawei could provide a ‘one-stop solution,’ which would help Mannai expand its share of the fiercely competitive market in Qatar.

Getting Ahead of the Competition with a New Approach

In mid-2017, Mannai and Huawei started collaborating on projects. The early stages were harder than expected because of the strong competition and established vendors in the market.

Together, Mannai and Huawei bid on several Requests For Proposals (RFPs), but they lost the bids because competitor vendors already had a greater market presence; it proved difficult to persuade customers to switch vendor and negotiations over pricing were unexpectedly tough.

To find a solution, Mannai and Huawei held a business plan meeting at the beginning of 2018. The teams analyzed the missed opportunities and identified areas that required development.

Both teams worked together to design a fresh approach: a model that prioritized creating a Proof of Concept (PoC) and helping Mannai’s technical engineers gain higher levels of certification.

Several Huawei servers, storage products, and network switches were delivered to customers for demonstration purposes, providing comprehensive support for customers to test their applications and run their live business environment on PoC demonstration machines. This strategy received a great deal of positive feedback from customers.

Indeed, this new approach improved customer confidence in Huawei products and, in just one year — with a high success rate for PoCs and growing collaboration between the teams — Mannai and Huawei beat stiff competition to win a huge project worth millions of dollars: the expansion of a major pipeline using Huawei’s solutions.

The teams also made significant progress in technical trainings and certifications and, by the end of 2018, both parties were empowered with improved technical skill sets. Indeed, Mannai trainees were recognized as ‘excellent students’ by Huawei headquarters during the pre-sales technical training.

The efforts made in 2017 and 2018 began to pay dividends in 2019. In addition to revenue directly generated from the sales of Huawei solutions, Mannai professional services and third-party services related to Huawei solutions also increased, bringing in close to 40 percent of total revenue. With the cooperation proving successful, Mannai and Huawei then won a huge, national-level backbone Telecommunications Wide Area Network (WAN) project.

Working Through Hardships to Reach the Top

In 2019, the two parties upgraded their partnership, with Mannai becoming a Huawei Value-Added Partner (VAP). Within two years, Mannai has become one of Huawei’s fastest-growing partners, winning multiple major projects. Focusing on Huawei star products, Mannai became the first company in Qatar to deploy Huawei Wi-Fi 6; Huawei Dorado All Flash storage devices have also become key elements of the partnership’s success.

In turn, Huawei is the only vendor that Mannai has worked with that has grown so rapidly in such a short period. Huawei is a key part of Mannai’s technology stack partnership, and without the VAP status, it would be rather difficult for Mannai to provide top services to meet their client base demands.

The relationship Mannai fostered with Huawei was one of its success stories in 2019, so Mannai will continue to invest in Huawei’s business, expand its business with a greater range of solutions, capitalize on the advantages of both parties, and maintain rapid growth.

Focusing on the Qatar 2022 World Cup and Qatar Vision 2030, Mannai will work with Huawei to serve the nation with the latest and best technological solutions. Together, Mannai and Huawei’s vision is to win enterprise customers, excel in joint offerings and services to customers while helping them realize their business goals with Huawei’s solutions.

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