Region’s IT leaders ready to leverage innovation

Over the past week, thousands of visitors have descended upon the Dubai World Trade Centre to check out the latest innovations in enterprise information technology

Tags: Dubai World Trade CentreUnited Arab Emirates
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By  Imthishan Giado Published  October 22, 2009

Over the past week, thousands of visitors have descended upon the Dubai World Trade Centre to check out the latest innovations in enterprise information technology. They have been intrigued, enthralled, even entertained - and most of all, they will come away from this year's event reassured that the men and women who comprise the enterprises of the Middle East can stand shoulder to shoulder with any other in the world and hold their heads up high.

That fact was reaffirmed by the results announced on Monday of the third annual Arab Technology Awards, which saw the region's top enterprises, vendors, system integrators and service providers richly rewarded for their hard work in the past year. The Jumeirah Group's Marwan Al Ali received the highly-coveted CIO of the Year trophy for his excellent work in hospitality, while HP and EMC took home the enterprise hardware and software vendor awards respectively.

In a year where the financial crisis has weighted heavily in the decisions taking in the boardrooms of the Middle East, it is good to see that the region's IT industry continues to grow. Across the board, IT departments are continuing to make significant investments in infrastructure, resources training and innovation.

But enterprises should still retain an element of vigilance. It's crucial to recognise that there can be no progress without proper partnerships and a means of freely exchanging information and best practice. In the past, far too many of the region's most far-sighted companies have worked solely within a vacuum, being either unwilling or unable to meet their peers. Today, however, times are entirely different, and the pressure on emering organisations is to be immediately competitive with their peers - so they can no longer have the luxury of 20-year learning curves. CIOs must now learn to learn from each other, to share best practice and communicate their challenges and achievements for the benefit of the industry as a whole and for their own benefit, through better understanding and peer group support.

The slow-burn approach, however, has had its benefits. Unlike western enterprises which have rapidly over-expanded and are now paying the price for their ambition, the Middle East has been cautiously evaluating technological advancements, picking only best-of-breed solutions. By doing so, enterprises have largely spared the harsh budget and manpower cuts that have plagued the global IT industry. They have also had the opportunity of learning from the mistakes of others, and of leap-frogging generations of technology.

As one well-known CIO puts it: "All these years, we were trying to catch up with the pace of development. Now finally we have all the pieces in place - infrastructure, individuals and investment. All we have to do now - is innovate."

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