EDITOR ’ S QUESTION
OSAMA AL-ZOUBI , CTO , CISCO MEA
To create the next generation of IT leaders , every organisation both regionally and around the world must first and foremost look to invest in its workforce and build digital skills from the ground up . Knowledge and expertise cannot simply sit with a sole CIO or CTO , it must cascade throughout the organisation and especially among IT teams .
In 2020 , Cisco ’ s inaugural CIO Perspectives Survey identified the strategic priorities for 1,300 decision makers globally , across markets including the United Arab Emirates ( UAE ) and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ( KSA ). As CIOs navigate new territories , how their IT teams operate on a day-to-day basis and how they plan for the future have fundamentally changed .
Technology will be a driving factor in the facilitation of CIOs and ITDMs to tackle talent retention , internal corporate initiatives and broader societal issues .
Regionally , most respondents ( 82 %) believe that the ability to attract and retain talent in the all-digital world will be critical . Nearly half of those surveyed said they are upskilling current talent ( 44 %) and investing in talent in new areas ( 39 %) over the next 12 months .
The reality is that this focus on upskilling needs to become more widespread , and treated as an imminent priority . Some organisations have the ability to conduct trainings in-house or on the job , while others look towards external accreditations as a signifier of competency . Each decision maker must evaluate both long- and short-term goals , gaining clear understanding of which skills in particular are required at this moment in time – prioritising accordingly .
Often , CIOs and IT teams can face internal bottlenecks , largely due to organisational structures which see them largely working in a silo . To truly bring about change , there has to be consensus
among teams and support for a shared cause . Every department in a company will want to know the direct impact an investment in upskilling will have on their particular area – so this should always be made clear . The CIO must be the driving force behind being the face of Digital Transformation in the organisation , but equally , even HR teams have a degree of responsibility .
HR departments must be equipped with the relevant checks and balances to evaluate candidates based on skill and actual business need at that moment in time . In cases where candidates may be strong in a number of areas , but could potentially still require further upskilling , there should also be policies and initiatives in place to make this possible . Similarly , it is in an organisation ’ s best interest to reskill , upskill and frequently train existing staff – so as to further build their competencies and illustrate consideration for individual employee ambitions .
In the wake of the Fourth Industrial Revolution , governments and businesses across the Middle East are preparing for the coming global shift towards AI and advanced technologies .
Knowledge and expertise cannot simply sit with a sole CIO or CTO , it must cascade throughout the organisation and especially among IT teams .
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