IT Weekly Middle East Newsletter 4th September 2005

In this week’s issue of IT Weekly we are carrying an interview with the highly-respected Sabri Al-Azazi, the CIO of Dubai Holding. Even if we hadn’t known about Al-Azazi, we could tell that he is highly-respected because he has got a big C in his job title: still something of an achievement for any IT man (or woman come to that), certainly so in this region.

  • E-Mail
By  Peter Branton Published  September 3, 2005

Time to move from the data centre to the boardroom|~|commentbody.jpg|~|IT managers should be pressing their claims to join the ranks of CIOs in the boardroom.|~|In this week’s issue of IT Weekly we are carrying an interview with the highly-respected Sabri Al-Azazi, the CIO of Dubai Holding. Even if we hadn’t known about Al-Azazi, we could tell that he is highly-respected because he has got a big C in his job title: still something of an achievement for any IT man (or woman come to that), certainly so in this region. The role of the CIO has been around for quite a few years now, but many organisations still seem reluctant to appoint somebody to that position. Even rarer is to see somebody come through the organisation to take another one of the CxO titles from an IT background: accountants aren’t tied down to just becoming chief financial officers, lawyers can run companies, but an IT exec? Not so likely, unfortunately. The reasons behind the failure of IT managers to move further up the corporate ladder have been debated probably for as long as we’ve had IT managers – or a corporate ladder for them to move up. Ask a (non) IT manager the reasons why and the answers will seem wearyingly familiar: lack of communication skills, failure to understand business issues, over-specialisation, and so forth and so forth. Are these just canards or is there truth behind them? Well, the answer is generally that it will be down to the individual and to circumstances. A few years ago, when talk was all about the New Economy, then people saw IT as a driving force – in the US at least. At that point, IT execs seemed to find themselves suddenly better communicators, clearer business thinkers and generally better all-round thinkers, without seeming to do anything very much different. The last couple of years have seen the Old Economy resurgent again, and US business magazines seem to have found a bit less space in their pages to devote articles to IT staff. More recently, with the economy looking a bit brighter again, IT again seems to be being received that bit more favourably. For aspirant C-staffers here in the Middle East who are working away in the IT department, there has surely never been a better time to press their claims. According to IDC, high oil prices mean those countries here that produce the black stuff are awash with funds – and governments are using those funds to invest in IT projects. Increasingly, IT is being seen as far more than just a basic service: it is actually allowing changes in how business is done. For instance, Saudi Post is looking at technology to underpin its ambitious home delivery service. Since there is a lack of road and building names in Saudi, the postal service will be based on radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, which will allow postal staff to check that they have the correct address to deliver to. Companies are also looking at IT as a vehicle of change, rather than simply as a cost-saving mechanism. Investments in such technologies as customer relationship management (CRM) are increasing here in the region. So, encouraging times for IT staff everywhere but also challenging times for them as well. As Al-Azazi quite rightly points out, non-IT managers will look at delivery of projects and make their assessments on that basis. “There are no limitations for you to deliver in order to become a successful CIO and that’s what’s challenging about the job,” he says. “You might deliver on 60 initiatives and fail on two, yet the perception is that you have been a failure.” Exhortations to seize the day may seem somewhat facile but, we should all appreciate that now really is a golden opportunity for the IT industry in the Middle East one we do not want to waste. ||**||

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code