Get to know: 4C managing director, Jake Callaway

Below all the corporate strategy and marketing rhetoric, what really makes 4C's MENA head tick

Channel organisations need to be able to recognise market trends before these are reflected in customer demands, says Callaway.
Channel organisations need to be able to recognise market trends before these are reflected in customer demands, says Callaway.

What’s your career history to date? How did you end up working in Dubai?

I began my career as a Business Analyst for Manchester United Football Club, analysing data and plotting trends for their Commercial department and it was during this employment that I was introduced to Salesforce. Soon after, I joined a London-based Salesforce Partner called CloudSocius. The company at the time was 10 people and later that year became the UK’s fasting growing Salesforce partner. It was CloudSocius who offered me the chance to move to Dubai. They were looking to expand their offerings to the Middle Eastern market and I put my hand up to take that responsibility. Within a month, I was on a plane to Dubai to begin my current adventure. In December 2016, our position was solidified in the market as we were acquired by the European-based 4C Consulting and rebranded the company simply as 4C.

If you could improve one thing about the channel business what would it be?

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Channel organisations need to be able to recognise market trends before these are reflected in customer demands. They need to adopt a proactive approach and make investments in their expertise and services, so they can serve as advisors to their customers which differentiates their market offering from low-margin fulfilment activities.

What product or technology should the channel watch out for this year?

The amount of data that we collect about our customers is growing at an almost exponential rate. It is becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to manually explore trends, correlations and test hypothesise on this growing dataset. Advanced analytics that is driven by artificial intelligence is the technology many companies are exploring to help with the challenges they are facing. It is the technology that I expect to have a big impact on the industry this year.

What is your proudest career achievement to date?

My proudest career achievement to date was being part of a Salesforce Partner panel discussion at this year’s Salesforce Basecamp event that was held at Jumeirah Emirates Towers and had over 1,000 participants. Raising the profile of the Salesforce Ecosystem in the Middle East is of vital importance to the growth aspirations that we have in this region.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

“There may be people that have more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.”

What is the biggest mistake you have ever made since working in the IT market?

I believe all the career choices that I have made so far, have led me to this point now - so if I was presented with the opportunity, I would not change any of my career decisions. Especially not the one that brought me to Dubai!

Experience is the name we give to the mistakes that we have made and having started a company here in the Middle East three years ago, no doubt I have made mistakes. However, acknowledging them and acting proactively and with positive intention has made it possible to quickly rectify those mistakes, mitigate their impact and of course learn from them.

Which IT company, other than your own, do you most admire and why?

I admire Salesforce for not only enabling businesses to build meaningful and lasting relationships with their customers but applying this customer-centricity to their own operations.

Locally, our customer Property Finder stands out for constantly innovating and enhancing their platform and customer services to maintain their position as the UAE's #1 property portal for over a decade.

What is the biggest challenge facing the Middle East IT channel?

Because businesses in the Middle East have been undergoing such a rapid digital transformation, this has placed pressure on the channel to rapidly ramp up and deliver the underlying technologies. Identifying the right technology partners and building the expertise and business model around their solutions has been a challenge for several channel organisations.

The largest challenge organisations face when implementing new technologies is the overall understanding of those technologies. The accessibility of knowledge sharing groups, learning sessions and online platforms is increasing in the region, but it still lags behind what is available across North America and Europe where we typically see earlier adoption of new technologies. This is an initiative that 4C is looking to take the lead on, in the coming year.

What’s your favourite thing about the company you work for?

It’s no surprise that as a CRM specialist, 4C is itself deeply customer-centric. This is reflected in all aspects of our company culture and translated to deep and meaningful engagements with our customers which are highly rewarding.

Even while recording triple-digit year-on-year growth over the last three years, 4C has remained as agile as ever and provides a platform for innovation which has resulted in our ability to be first to market with several of our services.

What sort of interests do you have outside of work?

Golf is a huge passion of mine. If I am not in the office or with a client, then there is a high probability I will be at one of the several world-class golf facilities that the UAE has to offer. Golf enables me the platform to distract myself from the day-to-day activities associated with running a rapidly expanding company.

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