Intelligent Tech Channels Issue 17 | Page 14


Private sector lagging in innovation race

GBM ’ s Miguel Khouri explains how the private sector in the region can catch up with the public sector in innovation .
Miguel Khouri , General Manager of Abu Dhabi and Yemen , GBM .

The great Irish philosopher George Berkley once asked : If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it , does it make a sound ? A man with a keen interest in the philosophy behind observation , Berkley believed that to be is to be perceived . From his perspective , since nobody heard the tree fall , it never happened .

Fast forward 300 years till today , and this question still leaves us stumped . We are seeing governments set the pace when it comes to embracing the wave of digital technologies , like the cloud as well as analytics and big data , thus encouraging private sector entities to follow suit .
Government leaders are keenly aware of the benefits that can be gained through the implementation of these solutions , and the private entities that have followed their lead have understood that in order to stay ahead of the curve , or even on it to begin with , a digital transformation is a necessity .
This raises the question : “ If you own a business and have not yet embarked on the journey towards digital transformation , does the business exist ?” If we follow Berkley ’ s logic , the answer would be no .
Our visionary leaders have also made legitimate commitments to the UAE ’ s digital growth , with the establishment of advanced IT policies forming pillars of many of the UAEs strategic long-term plans . In Dubai , Sheikh Mohammed has introduced the Smart Dubai initiative , which aims to bring the private sector and government together in order to deliver a smart city experience for residents and visitors . Furthermore , Sheikh Mohammed also launched the emirate ’ s flagship Internet of Things Strategy and Data Wealth initiative earlier this year .
Despite the striking progress made by the emirate ’ s leaders , we still experience caution from the private sector when it comes to embracing this wave of digital change . Private sector IT spending is transitioning at a slower pace , with the focus remaining on traditional hardware and infrastructure projects .
So , what can private entities do to bridge this existing gap ? We have a number of recommendations .
Having a visionary CIO at the helm is instrumental As aforementioned , the impact of the digital transformation is far reaching and will impact almost every company within every industry . Companies that understand these new dynamics and can adapt accordingly will thrive , those that cannot will struggle to survive . A visionary CIO that can put a plan in place and migrate to the right technology at the right time is essential in order to achieve successful digital transformation .
Bringing IT into the boardroom is a crucial step Elevating the status of IT within the company is crucial should they want to get any digital rollouts off the ground . Gone are the days where IT issues were reserved for the IT department and the CIO – IT is now a pillar of the company ’ s business strategy and should be treated as such .
Approach IT from a business perspective Many companies still view IT investments as a luxury as opposed to a necessary investment . The truth of the matter is measured IT investments secure your relevancy in the market and make your
business more competitive . In a country where mobile penetration stands at 228 % and everything from government services and groceries can be handled via a mobile app , ignoring the digital transformation is not a viable business strategy .
Speaking to professionals can make a difference Technological transformations can be incredibly challenging for companies , which is why aligning yourself with a trusted partner can make the transition a comfortable experience . IT solutions are also not a one size fits all package , the right consultant will ensure the right combination of technologies are put in place with your bottom line in mind .
With data now set to become our greatest natural resource , many are referring to the digital era as the fourth industrial revolution . The last industrial revolution shaped the landscape and the destiny of nations around the world , with many of those who were left behind then , still struggling to catch up today . •