Middle East IT Teams Need Seat at Boardroom to Drive Digital Transformation in 2017

Change Management Vital for Effectively Deploying Cloud-Based Apps, Storage, and Security, Says Ahmed Auda


Amid the tumultuous Digital Economy and the rapidly evolved competitive landscape in the advancing Internet of Things era, Middle East organizations are finding that they need to deliver new applications, services, and business models faster than ever before to drive their digital advantage.


This is the ‘transform or die’ moment for Middle East organizations – with cloud-based services and Big Data analytics at the center of every organization’s digital core and digital strategies. Affordable consumer-as-you-go cloud services enable organizations to make decision-making in real time.


Demonstrating the strong growth in technology as the innovator, our Decentralization of IT research shows that more than two-thirds, or 68 percent, of Middle East business leaders believe that management of technology is shifting from the IT team to lines of business to drive innovation. Still, IT teams play a vital role - especially in the fields of cloud-based services, storage, and security.


New Forms of Cloud-Based Storage Drive Innovation

Middle East organizations are facing a major challenge in analyzing more and different types of data than ever before. This requires advanced cloud-based storage to analyze, store, and protect data in real-time.


For too long, storage has been seen by the C-suite as a cost center. Now, thanks to the arrival of hyper-converged storage, Middle East organizations can have the affordable, agile, and scalable storage solutions that can become revenue generators and drivers of innovation. Emerging markets such as the Middle East have the potential to leapfrog competitors in more established markets to succeed in their digital business models.


Hyper-converged infrastructure is especially useful for small- and medium-sized enterprises, which comprise the vast majority of businesses in the Middle East. The automated functions of hyper-converged infrastructure means IT staff can shift from day-to-day infrastructure maintenance to turning IT into a driver of business value.


In the Middle East, early adopters of hyper-converged infrastructure are also moving towards software-defined data centers – which further automates data center functions to allow for further line of business innovation.


While software-defined data centers are generally seeing stronger demand from large enterprises, organizations of all sizes – and especially SMEs – are looking to adopt all-flash storage. Flash storage is much more affordable, flexible, and powerful than hard-disk storage, and we predict that Middle East organizations will need to justify their decision to buy hard disk storage instead of flash storage solutions.


Cloud-Native Applications and Security at Heart of Digital Transformation

As part of their digital transformations, Middle East organizations are increasingly deploying affordable and adaptable open source cloud-native applications that can be quickly scaled up. Increasingly, business leaders are experimenting with lightweight operating systems – which take less processing power and have greater security.


In the wake of large-scale and increasingly complex cyberattacks across industries, security is the top of mind for Middle East organizations. As data center infrastructure increasingly moves to the cloud, new approaches to security are needed. In the hybrid cloud era, we are seeing Middle East security teams shift from protecting the data center infrastructure to protecting applications. Security teams will need to work more closely with developers and application teams to deploy their controls.


Over the past several years, security teams have discussed about how to secure public and private clouds. But in 2017, this will change rapidly to Middle East organizations seeing how the cloud itself can secure applications and data. Cloud solutions can provide greater network security visibility, automate cyber-attack responses, and develop new security policies. At the same time, organizations will need to work more closely with customers and third parties to gain their trust on cloud-based security solutions.


One of the most pressing security challenges facing Middle East organizations is having the right security talent in place. In a region with high staff turnover, the scarcity of talent and the difficulty of funding additional headcount have prevented organizations from fully adopting powerful new security technologies.


In the next several years, we will reach a tipping point in which the security talent shortage will drive a new wave of security technologies that will simplify and automate the process of securing critical infrastructure and applications. With more mobile workforces in the Middle East, we are also seeing a trend towards mobile security and identity and access management moving towards a risk-based behavioral model.


Change Management Vital for Digital Success

Middle East organizations face a tall task in bringing together advanced storage and data center, cloud-based applications and services, and cyber security. The latest technology or applications and services can drive digital transformation only when they can be easily accessed in secure cloud environments. While the rise of the cloud has democratized IT, without proper guidelines, costs have been rising and roles have become blurred.


With seven in 10 of Middle East business leaders believing that IT should enable the lines of business to drive innovation, it is clear that the IT department will not go away. Indeed, IT will need a seat in the boardroom in order to contribute to organization-wide digital transformation and enable lines of business to drive innovation.


Managing this digital change is perhaps the greatest challenge facing Middle East organizations. Business leaders must prioritize change management and defining roles in 2017, in order to become successful digital innovators over the next five years – or be left behind in the Digital Economy.


Ahmed Auda is Managing Director for MENA at digital transformation consultancy VMware, which advises more than 500,000 customers worldwide on its Cross-Cloud Architecture.



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