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Sathya Mithra Ashok says the formation of IT groups could help building knowledge and improve efficiency.

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By  Sathya Mithra Ashok Published  August 5, 2007

Even as technology investments in the region steadily increase, enterprises continue to display attitudes, behaviour and usage patterns that resemble what more developed markets were doing a few years in the past.

While some view this as a sign of backwardness, most in the industry believe that its a huge opportunity in disguise. By lagging behind a step, enterprises can more easily transform their IT products, practices and mindset to the next level of information technology - they can leapfrog an entire generation of technology. However, this is possible only with a concerted effort from regional IT managers.

This month, I had the opportunity to meet GV Rao, the IT manager of Dubai Refreshments. He is a stalwart of the industry, with 17 years of experience backing him and an NME Innovation Award 2007 to his credit. During the interview, he encouraged the formation of regional IT groups which could discuss issues and share best practices.

Rao's idea is not really a unique one. I have also heard at least two other major CIOs in the region express their wish to have a regular ‘IT club' that would link them to their peers.

The benefits of any association so formed in the region are obvious. It would help build knowledge and awareness of IT in the region, demand higher competence from vendor products and would ensure better efficiency across the entire industry.

Yet there are certain pertinent reasons standing in the way of such a group's formation.

The group, if formed, would need to commit a certain amount of effort to the running of it. It would need a proper agenda, backed by consistent and detailed planning.

Also the sheer geographic spread of the region throws into question who the group should ideally comprise of.

More than anything else, the group would need a driving force. However, a willingness to start small and perhaps the use of a vendor's resources in the initial phases could help get such an IT association off the ground.

The region does boast certain strong vendor-related yet independent user groups, such as SAP's. The need of the hour though would be provider-neutral associations that offer a broader platform of discussion for IT managers across the region.

It is about time for such a group to be formed - to set new ground in discussions, to encourage best practices and, to act as a collective springboard to launch to the next technology level.

Award winners

Rao is not the only NME Innovation Award winner in this issue. We are pleased to feature another winner in the Habtoor Grand's IT manager, Rupendra Shakya.

Look out for the NME Innovation Award Winner stamp which graces their pages - and will become a regular feature in winner stories that will be carried in future issues.

And while you are at it, remember that it's never too early to start planning towards next year's NME awards!

3829 days ago
Magnus Nystedt

Check out EmiratesMac Apple User Group (, the only registered Apple User Group in the UAE.

3834 days ago
Ash Nallawalla

I just became aware of this site and this article. There are existing models that can be replicated in the Gulf or you can form local chapters of such computer groups. Vendor-sponsored groups are usually limited to their own products and tend to be publicity vehicles for the sponsors. Participation is usually free or bundled into the cost of the software licence. There are the pure computer user groups, which seems to be a dying model because they are based on a formula of face-to-face meetings, printed newsletters and possibly a website. You see them both at the IP Pro level and home user level. I am an honorary board member of the world's largest PC user group - Melbourne PC User Group and I am also on the board of the Association of PC User Groups, an umbrella body for traditional consumer computer user groups (Mac and Windows). We (APCUG) just held an annual leadership conference in Las Vegas preceding CES, where we helped user group leaders to share experiences with one another and to meet with computer vendors. The new model for such groups is the online community, usually centred on an online forum. These can cover a single topic or a bunch of them and most tend to have a free membership base and some have exclusive areas for paid members. Online communities tend to have a commercial model, usually based on advertising revenue, partly on subscriptions, and occasionally involving an in-person event such as a conference. Creating a new IT user group with a paid administrative staff would need seed money from a generous sponsor and the likelihood of attracting a large number of subscribers to sustain its future.

3998 days ago
Usamah Jan

I really like this topic especially that me & my colleague started an IT group since March 2005 "ITdigest

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