Growing pains

eCompany says IT departments in the Middle East banking industry need to re-assess their priorities and procedures in the wake of increasing competition from worldwide banking and compliance pressures.

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By  Simon Duddy Published  March 6, 2005

eCompany, the ICT solutions arm of UAE telco Etisalat, has emphasised the rapidly changing nature of the Middle East banking industry at the Banking on eSolutions event it held in Dubai today. One of the key messages of the event was that changes will have a far reaching impact on the role of IT and network managers in the vertical. “In an environment of increased competition in the banking sector, margins will shrink for the banking industry so banks need to focus on core business and utilise technology better,” said Ahmad Abdulkarim Julfar, general manager, eCompany. The keynote speech was delivered by Azzam Al Dari, the regional director of consulting with Meta Group Middle East. He stressed the state of flux the industry is in at the moment and the impact this will have on personnel in IT departments. Al Dari singled out the fragmented nature of the banking sector in the region and said that consolidation was a must if banks in the region were to be in a strong position to withstand regulatory pressure and competition from banks from outside the region. “There are five banks in the Middle East looking for acquisition partner. The Middle East is most fragmented banking sector in the world. Consolidation is a must. Lots of international brands are knocking on the door wanting presence, and wanting to tap into the rich capital market,” he said. In this environment, the task of the IT manager becomes more difficult. If the IT manager is going to successfully deliver ICT proposals he should be aware of the changing and fluid business climate. “An IT manager should be a broker of sorts, asking the board what they want and then delivering it as effectively as possible either using internal or external solutions,” said Al Dari. “The sophistication of system and database administration tools is increasing rapidly and there is more automatic re-configuration. This will impact on administrators who will need to develop higher skills to increase their personal value. IT managers must ask themselves — Is my personal value to be a guru of a particular technology that may become obsolete in a few years or is it to be an infrastructure planner?”

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