Bahrain: Discussing Ecommerce and Marketing with Ali Hassan of iSoft Information Technology

Ali Hassan discusses ecommerce and marketing in Bahrain and the GCC region and gives an overview of iSoft Information Technology, a dynamic system integration company focused on ecommerce, internet marketing, and sales. He also mentions some current projects and shares his ambition for iSoft Information Technology in the medium term.

Interview with Ali Hassan, CEO at iSoft Information Technology

Ali Hassan, CEO at iSoft Information Technology

What challenges are you facing currently and what are you doing to overcome them?

A big challenge is the target audience and understanding what their requirements are exactly. When we sit with a customer or prospect, we are trying to come up with the requirement instead of them telling their needs to us. It usually leads to an open-ended project that will never end from either side. That is a big challenge, especially with the small to medium companies. Challenges are not preventing us from growing, but it is making the growth slower than it has to be.

What is your assessment of the sector and what is it like doing business in Bahrain?

Our new strategy is the education and empowerment of everyone in the community through our social channels, digital channels, business channels, as well as personal channels. We are trying to study the motivation, spreading business knowledge, and inspiration.

We are in the ecommerce and marketing sector. This sector is growing incredibly and becoming too crowded in Bahrain, especially since the foreign companies have been given permission to operate freely with very limited restrictions. This has led to very aggressive competition with the local companies. That has had a positive and negative impact. The pricings and offerings drop down to the lowest level possible which has made it complicated for us, for the competition, for creating offers, and for dealing with customers. The positive side is that it will help the local companies to change their mindset, to change their strategic thinking, leave behind the traditional ways and approaches that they used to have for years and years, and start to be innovative, create new USPs (unique selling points), and innovative solutions in order to go within that competition and win the game in the end. They might even be better than the foreign companies. The number of SMEs and entrepreneurs in Bahrain is growing day by day for a number of reasons. The first reason is that everyone can open up a business whether they are Bahraini or non-Bahraini. That of course will increase the number of companies and businesses in the country. The governmental support throughout the supporting bodies and authorities in Bahrain also had an impact on the increase in the number of companies. The economy is the winner here. Most of these businesses are trying to enter the market through the online space and through the ecommerce space and that created very high demand on the internet. Internet users are increasing day by day and most people are buying online today. That is helping the telecom companies or the internet providers to have fast growth, fast income, and income growth. Similarly, it is positively impacting the other sectors that are related directly or indirectly to the ecommerce sector, such as graphic design, content writers, payment gateway providers, banking, and practically every sector in the country. In the end, the system will benefit from this increase in the number of SMEs and entrepreneurs in the country.

What projects are you working on currently?

Our new strategy, which we have started already, is the education and empowerment of everyone in the community through our social channels, digital channels, business channels, as well as personal channels. We are trying to study the motivation, spreading business knowledge, and inspiration. We are trying to unleash the hidden knowledge, hidden skills, hidden confidence of everyone in the community. We need to kick off a new way thinking for everyone in this community so they can start thinking business, start thinking differently, and find a new version of themselves. That will help them to enter the market as entrepreneurs or as SMEs and it will help us as a service provider to get more leads and more business from that. We are sharing high value content marketing materials every day. Recently, I started my own Instagram channel, focusing only on education and awareness, forming a business, startup, marketing, sales, etc. It is in Arabic and targeting the Arab market. I have been doing that for about six months and I have found it very amazing and useful. We will continue with this new strategy and we will see the results. We will enhance it later or change it depending on the result.

What products and services do you offer?

We have three streams: ecommerce, internet marketing, and sales. We started as a technology company selling a hospital management system, called Sehatek software. It is a system where you can manage the entire hospital operation, clinic operation, or medical center operation as an offline service. Previously, we were just installing this system for our customers, which were the clinics and hospitals. After a couple of years, we started another service, which is our web development. We started to develop websites and mobile applications. So, we began as a complete technology company with products and services focusing on the health sector. After a few years, we thought of opening new income streams, which are the internet marketing and sales services. We enrolled in one of the Masterclasses in Bahrain for ecommerce and internet marketing, and the instructors managing the entire program were David and his wife, Christina. They were amazing. They knew ecommerce and internet marketing inside out and we grew to love the sector from that Masterclass. From there, we started to do our research about internet marketing and ecommerce, lecturing services, consulting, etc. In marketing, we do lead generation, content creation, content marketing, website design, paid campaign management, and general consulting. For the sales, we close the deals, do lead tracking, and generic consultation as well. Recently, we started creating sales funnels and follow up funnels. In ecommerce, we have two products. One product is live, which is a retail marketplace. Anyone can buy it from us and start his marketplace. He can enroll and onboard vendors and create his retail business. The second one is in line with our Sehatek product in health management systems. We have now converted this to a cloud version using the software as a service technology. It will be SAS based and it will be for a wider market, not only for Bahrain but also for the GCC, Arab countries, and worldwide. We will be launching this version of the Sehatek software very soon under a new name for that system. It will be called Bclinika. It will be the first SAS based hospital management system in Bahrain and the GCC.

What is your ambition for the company in the medium term, three years’ time?

We are now building another SAS based project to help marketeers and advertisement managers to automate content creation. It will be focused on the Arab countries. Content writing is very expensive and we will try to make this easier for the Arab businesses and GCC businesses to get rid of the pain of looking for content writers and good content writing. We try to automate this for them so they will stay focused on how to develop their businesses and strategies and how to increase their income. Today, we are still in the designing phase, but we are going to create an academy as a subset of our company or as a new company. This academy will help anyone who wants to start a small business, who wants to start their entrepreneurial journey, or who wants to know where to start his life, his business, and how to convert his idea into a business. It will be a virtual academy teaching entrepreneurship, marketing, sales, etc. From there, we are moving into business consultancy rather than being simply an IT company or a software development company. This is the main focus. The new business will consist of a combination of consultation and training. There are a few different ways in which we will implement the consultation, from hourly based consultation to outsourcing.

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