Digital transformation impacts the very core of a business, altering the way it conducts its main activity and bringing about changes in its systems, processes, and people. Any projects or programmes with such profound consequences should never be rushed. The Covid-19 pandemic, however, gave businesses a new sense of urgency when it comes to delivering meaningful change.
The pandemic has accelerated digital strategies for companies around the world and has further sped up an already rapid direction of travel in the United Arab Emirates and across the Middle East, where digital transformation of the economy is a key priority at government level.
“It is all about digital transformation now, and how we should act in a way that enables us to be agile to respond to the changes that are happening over time,” says Tamer Ragab, head of apps and emerging tech at Injazat. “Also, the pandemic created financial pressure in some industries, which changed their priorities, making them more and more reliant on technology.”
“For instance, moving to the cloud for remote working was seen as an initiative, not a reality,” he adds. “Now, everyone is talking about it. Everything needs to be online, so there is more pressure on IT infrastructure, which must be scalable and secure. The culture has changed, and it is bringing a totally new vision of how to run a business.”
In today’s world, there is a growing imperative to adopt new and emerging technologies to connect remote workers, deliver agility and flexibility, and foster innovative ways of doing business.
“This pandemic has shown us that technology plays a vital role in the solution,” says Paul Potgieter, Injazat’s head of cloud. “Where we are seeing resiliency, organisations are leveraging technology to achieve that. The clients that are extremely adaptable and resilient are the ones that have looked at the pandemic and come up with ways to rethink and reimagine their organisation.”
A solution from the cloud
At the start of the pandemic, enabling collaboration between teams working remotely was the overriding imperative.
“We are seeing a new way of working, which could be probably termed hybrid working,” says Potgieter. “There’s a big demand from C-level to look at hybrid working technologies, and there is obviously a significant impact on how these technologies are being delivered. Organisations want them to be scalable, agile and quickly put into production.”
Cloud-based solutions have served as a major catalyst for delivering those technologies. More organisations, especially in the enterprise space, are turning to cloud to deliver post-pandemic solutions. The agility they provide opens the door to transformation at a much more fundamental level.
“It’s not only the ability to deliver and operate this technology, it’s how they look at governance models, secure by design, and how they continue to deliver more competitive solutions as a business” Potgieter adds.
As important as agility is the confidentiality, integrity and availability (CIA) triad of cybersecurity, especially when remote workers are using off-site technology to access a business network. In early 2020, there was an increase in service disruptions due to more users connecting to information systems, which put a burden on both service providers and enterprises.
“Much of it came down to the availability spectrum,” remarks Mohammed Al Muhtadi, Injazat’s chief information security officer. “The world was not ready to provide such a level of connectivity, nor have to rely on third-party tools such as videoconferencing.”
“Cybersecurity experts also had to deal with authentication-based attacks, with an increase of spoofing attacks imitating different members of organisations or third parties.”
One key effect of the pandemic has been to focus minds firmly on network security. “Cybersecurity has become an ever-growing business concern and provides assurances that your organisation is operating under adequate security measures,” adds Al Muhtadi. “The role of the CISO, therefore, has become an enterprise value generator and a pillar to give businesses a competitive edge.”
Fit for the future
The rapid adoption of new technologies – whether cloud, SaaS or collaborative working applications – is evident in businesses across the Middle East and is having a positive effect on productivity and efficiency. Beyond that, however, new technologies are preparing the ground for any unexpected events yet to come.
“This is the first pandemic on such a scale we have experienced, but are we ready for something in the future?” asks Ragab. “Relying on technology is becoming much more important than ever before, so organisations like Injazat are being asked to step in and propose the best kind of digital transformation roadmap, tailored for each client.”
Being more responsive, more resilient, and more innovative allows a business to tackle future challenges. Technology helps organisations to achieve that, but partnerships with providers of cloud services, cybersecurity and SaaS will be equally important. Those enterprises making headway typically have C-level backing for an agile methodology and are seeking partnerships that can deliver transformational outcomes that are equal to favourable business outcomes.
“Many clients have used the pandemic to partner with us on venturing into new business models,” says Potgieter. “They’ve essentially leveraged the pandemic to reinvent their business, not only at a technology level to be more productive and more collaborative, but also to look at new innovative business models that serve their clients differently.”
In a pandemic that has brought suffering to many, one silver lining is to be found in the opportunity it has afforded enterprises to think about their operations completely anew. Finding the right partner to help successfully deliver on that vision has never been more valuable in the new normal.