Charbel Fakhoury, Microsoft Gulf

Microsoft continues to build regional capabilities and develop young talent.

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By  Eliot Beer Published  September 8, 2007

Microsoft continues to build regional capabilities and develop young talent.

ACN: What's your big focus going to be for this autumn in the Middle East?

CF: Our two key focus areas are innovation and citizenship and this autumn will be particularly busy in both fields.

The early adopter programme (EAP) for Windows Server 2008 has been a great success. The closed testing phase will finish towards the end of the year with plans to launch the solution in February 2008. We are working closely with the different EAP customers in the banking, logistics and telecom sectors to ensure a successful deployment across the region.

Microsoft in Oman has just relocated their offices to the Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM), a technology park dedicated to supporting technology-oriented businesses. We have seen excellent growth in Oman since 2001, and we are working closely with the government and other businesses of Oman to empower individuals and businesses and help them reach their full potential through the use of technology.

In addition to this we will be increasing our employment by 35 per cent in the Dubai office with the influx of a number of regional roles.

The second batch of Microsoft "Intaleq" interns will graduate this autumn. Microsoft launched the "Intaleq" project in the United Arab Emirates in September 2006 to empower young and talented UAE nationals with real work experience, and to offer them the chance to realise their full potential. Finally, before the end of 2007, we will be launching the Imagine Cup in the Gulf for the second year. This follows a successful first year for the competition in the region that culminated in an all women team from UAE University taking part in the global finals in Korea.

ACN: What are the big issues you see in the regional enterprise IT sector?

CF: During the last decade, technology has transformed the world of business in profound ways. At times however, it can feel like all of these changes have overwhelmed the tools enterprises use to function. Today, we struggle to find the right information and stay focused on tasks that deliver the greatest value. At large companies, layers of IT infrastructure that tackle specific business issues have created islands of disconnected data that add complexity and cost but often yield far less value than expected. Technology that enables employees to communicate, collaborate and telecommute has created difficult issues for IT professionals. Meanwhile, at millions of small businesses around the region, paper is still the medium of day-to-day business and the online, global economy remains an abstract concept for most.

ACN: What are the hot technologies that are shaping enterprise IT trends?

CF: At Microsoft, we are pursuing a strategy that combines the best attributes of the cloud and the client - an approach we call Software plus Services. Software plus Services lets us look at specific things that people want to do with technology and find the best way to balance the advantages of the connection between people, devices and information that the Internet provides and the extraordinary capabilities that can be achieved only by software that sits on a device with a powerful processor.

Business Intelligence software remains hot in the market as well as the need for greater understanding and use of business and customer data in an increasingly competitive environment grows.

ACN: How can enterprises maximise their it ROI?

CF: The short answer to this is ‘ease'. Companies need to invest in technology that is widely available; low maintenance; easy to integrate within the existing environment and most importantly easy to use within the enterprise.

ACN: Why should CEOs care about it?

CF: At Microsoft we talk about the People-Ready Business: A company where the strategic use of information and IT resources enables employees to strengthen and expand profitable relationships with customers and suppliers, use their understanding of customers to create innovative products and services, and use their knowledge of a company's processes to improve operational efficiency.

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