(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) The UAE's digital transformation agenda is certainly going to disrupt society and will help the nation leap into a more progressive era, with the current year accelerating spending in digitising processes and hastening the development of a smart nation.
new IBM study of C-suite executives based in the UAE revealed that nearly five in 10 responding organisations are increasingly prioritising digital transformation over the next two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
'This pandemic has forced organisations across industry sectors to embrace innovative digital platforms to facilitate a way of working that keeps both people connected and agile, and more importantly, safe. During a time of great uncertainty, digital transformation allows companies to provide stability, to create new capabilities and to innovate ahead of their competition, said Dr Tariq Aslam, head of MEA at Aveva.
'It is a journey through deployment of technology and driving behavioural change in workforce — changing when, where, which and how work is performed and evolved. Making the transition successfully can be profoundly rewarding for companies. We believe industry advancement should enhance the human experience, and not only
revolutionise industries, but also empower the people behind them.
According to the study, 76 per cent of the executives surveyed in the UAE believe they have been helping their employees learn the skills needed to work in a new way and that they are supporting the physical and emotional health of their workforce. However, the study finds a significant disconnect in how effective leaders and employees believe companies have been in addressing these gaps.
The IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) study Covid-19 and the Future of Business, which includes input from more than 3,800 C-suite executives in 20 countries and 22 industries, shows that executives surveyed are facing a proliferation of initiatives due to the pandemic and having difficulty focusing, but do plan to prioritise internal and operational capabilities such as workforce skills and flexibility — critical areas to address in order to jumpstart progress.
'Over the past eight months, we have seen the UAE utilise the catalytic effect of the Covid-19 pandemic to enact, initiate and plan for digital transformation programmes and further develop and accelerate the pace of existing initiatives, said Hossam Seif El Din, general manager of IBM Middle East and Pakistan. 'According to the study, businesses today are also more clear than ever about the role people play in their ongoing transformation. Organisational complexity, inadequate skills and employee burnout were identified as some of the biggest hurdles to progress.
The study reveals three proactive steps that emerging leaders surveyed are taking to survive and thrive and these inclue: Improving operational scalability and flexibility; applying AI, automation and other exponential technologies to help make workflows more intelligent; and leading, engaging and enabling the workforce in new ways.
The IBM study showed placing a renewed focus on people may be critical amid the Covid-19 pandemic while many employees are working outside of traditional offices and dealing with heightened personal stress and uncertainty. Ongoing IBV consumer research has shown that the expectations employees have of their employers have shifted amidst the pandemic — employees now expect that their employers will take an active role in supporting their physical and emotional health as well as the skills they need to work in new ways.
Vishal Manchanda, regional manager at Proven Consult, said: 'Organisations need to prioritise on how technology can help grow the business and improvise customer experiences. CIOs will have to move towards cloud computing and minimise any amount of manual activities, which can further help reduce the cost of IT data centres and operations and aid businesses in reducing the overall costs. With businesses picking up speed through remote operations, it is a smart strategy to do away with physical costs.
recommends executives place deeper focus on their people, putting employees' end-to-end well-being first. Empathetic leaders who encourage personal accountability and support employees to work in self-directed squads that apply design thinking, agile principles and DevOps tools and techniques can be beneficial.
Mathivanan Venkatachalam, vice-president at ManageEngine, said: 'While cybersecurity firms continue to transform and adapt to enterprise cybersecurity needs, work from home has made cybersecurity firms clearly realise that endpoint security is still the security baseline upon which more advance security policies must be deployed. Another aspect that has emerged during these times is the need to have a unified solution that can capably handle an organisation's security needs. Lastly, the need to incorporate machine learning and artificial intelligence, as cyberattacks evolve at a faster pace compared to our awareness of cybersecurity.
Alain Penel, regional vice-president for the Middle East at Fortinet, said: 'During times of rapid change, cybersecurity will continue to be top of the list for businesses. With the threat landscape continuing to evolve, organisations will need to create a security framework to include skills and solutions, as part of their overall IT strategy so that digital innovations don't result in cyber threats and increased business risks and costs.
The current lack of experienced cybersecurity security professionals and increase in the number and level of sophistication of cyberattacks on commercial businesses means that when successful, such attacks can be debilitating, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in downtime or reparations.
'Organisations must shift their mindset away from traditional hiring and work to implement new, agile solutions that leverage untapped resources, without burning out their employees. Businesses must focus on diversifying the new hiring process, and reskilling and upskilling current employees through in-house training programmes, Penel added.
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