SSBS and Saudi Arabia’s service solutions
“These large industries are bound into working with local I.T service provider SBSS, and there are only few companies who are offering those end-to-end services here,” says AbdulRahman Al-Othman, Sales Director at SSBS.
SSBS, a subsidiary of the Al-Othman Holding, is a service and solutions company head quartered in Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia.
“SSBS is a systems integrator, we provide a lot of IT solution services, whether it’s a low current building up a network, infrastructure, servers and data centres or going up to the application and business intelligence layer,” he says.
SSBS differentiates itself from other competitors in the Saudi Arabian sector through a key factor, SSBS is based purely in Saudi Arabia.
“By trade, we are 100% Saudi company. We are established in Saudi Arabia and we came up in Saudi Arabia. Most of our competitors are multi nationals with a huge resource of support from across the world, our key advantage is that we design and integrate the solutions to fit local needs” he says.
“We look at each other from a solution offering perspective and how much market segment there is out there for us. The way we operate is that all of our consultants are here onshore,” he adds.
Saudi Arabian sources
The success of SSBS comes from its rich portfolio of partners. SSBS works with partners to ascertain specific client requirements and needs.
“We have a huge portfolio partners that we deal with. It’s almost like a toolset that we always refer back to and try and put those tools together to cater to the client,” says AbdulRahman.
AbdulRahman states that SSBS works on a win-win operational basis, a win for the company and a win for the client before entering a partnership.
“Some of these partners operate from Dubai, but mostly in the UK and in the states and sometimes clients here in SA are not willing or patient enough to wait for these partners to come on the ground and view some of the presale activities and even technical support,” he says.
This results in a strategic outlook from SSBS, the company takes it upon itself to ensure it has a strong in-house knowledge of what the partners are offering, its solutions, how they work and how to fix things should there be an error. This all factors in to the win-win situation that SSBS tries to ensure.
“When we partner up with any company we enter a knowledge sharing mode. We assign highly qualified personnel in our organisation who are technically in charge of that partnership and we seek out opportunities to allow those people to shadow the company throughout the first couple of projects together,” says AbdulRahman.
“Then, we work on our own from that point onwards. That way we can support and sustain that working relationship in the future.” He says.
“This method has proven to be very successful for us and continues to be, the biggest proof is our many awards we receive from those partners commemorating us for our commitments and efforts.”
This process allows SSBS to design and tailor its service solutions accurately and more effectively for its clients, as well as enhancing a strong reputation for potential investors and clients moving forward.
Conglomerate of change
Despite being part of a conglomerate of companies across Saudi Arabia and the region, when the company started in 2002 AbdulRahman stresses that it was always an outward facing company.
“We never started off as the Group IT support division, but more of a outwards facing services company,” says AbdulRahman.
“It was the strong successes with the likes of the largest Oil & Gas producer, the largest Petrochemical companies and utility companies – all these large companies across the Kingdom,” he adds.
From this point onwards, the conglomerate looked at the large and successful portfolio that SSBS has accumulated and decided that the best practice going forward would be to combine the IT department and SSBS and have the company serve the entire group with these companies through a service level agreement (SLA) as a service provider.
“Through this agreement we’d take over the groups entire IT and run with it. We’ve been doing it very successfully, running most of those services in our data centres across the Kingdom,” he adds.
With responsibility on this level, security and sustainability is crucial to the success of the company as a service provider.
“We have four different service providers that give us data as well as multiple backups and this is how we sustain our group,” he says.
Looking at the company’s portfolio, AbdulRahman highlights key success stories in working with these partners. One such success story was, under the supervision of the largest Oil and Gas company, the procurement of SAP licences for a large independent energy research centre.
“We procured and implemented SAP licences for them all within five months, enabling all the best practices. We basically hosted and ran their ERP Instance – from their help desk right through to the support team,” says AbdulRahman.
“This included maintaining a main site with multiple connectivity to ensure that there is no downtime, a complete setup. Back then, in 2009, a project of this complexity wasn’t really the norm for Saudi Arabia.” He says.
Another key success during SSBS’ short history was the development of an Automotive Grade Wi-Fi. The device developed and implemented into 120,000 cars across the kingdom through one of the largest car distributors in the country.
The importance of key resources
The makeup of a successful IT service provider is not simply the IT services it provides but the people that work hard to provide high quality service solutions, and this is something that AbdulRahman is all too aware of.
“An IT company can only go as far as where the resources are. As a company, you need to find the right resources and maintain them. We strive to bring up young ambitious resources to take the business forward in the future,” says AbdulRahman.
These resources are recruited through a “very strong” HR recruitment team that looks both locally in Saudi Arabia and externally.
“We provide our requirements and our team will identify resources that we can consider. When it comes to certain professional services and skillsets, we have partners in Asia, Europe and the States who are resourcing companies that we can rely on,” he says.
“They are our extended manpower; they help us find the best resources available in the market.” He adds.
The challenge in innovation
A service provider in any market will face challenges and obstacles that it must continuously overcome as it aims to provide the best service solutions to its customers and clients. For SSBS, AbdulRahman admits that it’s no different.
“The typical risks of any project come into play, client expectations, fitting it all into negotiated timelines and essentially delivering what has been promised,” he says.
“This is why, as with any company, we have a Project Management Officer that runs these projects and mitigates risk as much as possible.” He adds.
In a company what strives to be innovative and be the best service provider in Saudi Arabia, AbdulRahman is all too aware of the need to stay ahead of the game.
“You have to be aware of what’s happening around you. You have to update yourself as no one will update you,” he says.
“You have to update yourself as no one will update you. The thing with IT is, always be on top of it. Connect to the right people and resources in terms of information, IDC, Gartner, Forrester, these are examples of good portals to access information.” He adds.
Making waves in the market
While accessing and exploiting the right portals is a crucial way in which any IT company can maintain a high level of success, it is important to understand the market it operates within.
“Innovation often works in waves. Things start in Europe or States for example and over the course of time it trickles here to Saudi Arabia. As a company you want to take a risk as being one of the first to adapt from the west and be the quickest to market,” says AbdulRahman.
Looking ahead, SSBS has ambitions of being not only the best service providers in Saudi Arabia but one of the best providers on a multinational scale.
“Our benchmark is always the multi nationals, they’re the ones that we believe have an edge and we try to compete as much as possible. Our ambition is of course to be the best IT company in the country.” He concludes.