IT Managers of the Year

ACN reveals the ten most outstanding individuals in regional IT for 2010.

Tags: Dubai Mercantile ExchangeJumeirah GroupKamal Osman JamjoomQatar UniversityZamil Industrial Investment Company
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IT Managers of the Year
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By  ACN Staff Writer Published  January 10, 2010 Arabian Computer News Logo

When we compiled our list last year, the situation looked far from ideal. This year, it's positively dire. But first, a recap.

The Middle East IT scene has been hurtling along for the past five years as if tied to the front of a runaway locomotive. Budgets swelled out of proportion, projects rushed through inception, planning and implementation and IT teams expanded as if the demand would never end.

It was all quite necessary, of course. Everyone has been witness to the phenomenal growth of the Middle East over the past decade, particularly in oil-rich UAE. CEOs demanded that their technology divisions be able to deliver immense amounts of infrastructure to a population that was young, diverse, educated and hungry for more information and greater connectivity.

As we all know however, the party came to an end last year. A new imperative took over - cost. IT managers suddenly came under strict instructions to limit funding to only the most essential projects, while all extraneous activities were either curtailed or ‘delayed' indefinitely - shorthand for outright cancellation in our book.

That was indeed the story for much of the early part of the year. The challenge had transitioned from being able to supply services quickly and efficiently to as cheaply as possible and with the minimum number of in-house staff. New initiatives (to this region, at least) such as cloud computing, virtualisation and outsourcing took on sudden importance as CEOs looked at every means of reducing their overheads and directed CIOs to find ways of making them work. When it didn't, staff cuts ensued, essential services suffered and eventually customers - the real end-users - began to notice a tangible drop in the quality of their IT.

That was the story - and for many enterprises, it still is the case. But our top IT managers for 2009 is not intended to be a list of the ten people who managed to cut the most costs while still remaining viable. In fact, while they have found ways of becoming efficient with their IT spend, there is not a single one among them who will admit to reducing staff at all.

Instead, over the next few pages, you will find a set of extraordinary individuals. In the middle of a global financial meltdown, these ten CIOs and IT managers have defied conventional wisdom by maintaining considerable investment in technology. They have pursued innovation, creating new means of working where possible and finding better ways of adapting old technology when not. Some have worked hard to bring the technology community closer together; others have taken age-old institutions and given them new life.

Above all, they illustrate how it is impossible - and ultimately futile - it is to try and predict the future based on past trends. Take the range of verticals they represent. For instance, the retail sector was especially hard hit this year, yet three of our winners hail from it. Banking and finance, healthcare and hospitality are equally represented, while manufacturing shows real muscle with two entries.

With so many contenders from this region, the choice of just ten individuals was hard to make. But we are confident that our selections represent the finest talent the Middle East has to offer.

Selection procedures

This year, we selected our ten IT managers based on a range of criteria, including the overall impact they have had on the regional IT community, as well as taking into account their experience with their organisations. As always, our main criterion is their ability to align business and IT needs perfectly.

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