IT improvements chart a course for success in the GCC

GCC leaders embark on aggressive ICT projeccts but authorities need to consider better management of costs

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IT improvements chart a course for success in the GCC GCC countries have spent on large ICT projects.
By Staff Writer Published  October 18, 2010

Ask the leader of any forward-thinking enterprise what he or she thinks is going to fuel the most change in his or her company over the next ten years, and chances are the answer will lie in the lightning-quick development of technology. This realisation is not limited to the commercial world; more and more government bodies are seeking to streamline their operations while expanding their services with the help of IT.

Here in the GCC, the federal government of the United Arab Emirates has recently undergone a major technological overhaul that charts a clear course of success not only for the country but for other governments in the region.

eProject portal is the UAE government's major IT development intended to link together its IT infrastructure at a federal level. The new system is set to integrate the government's IT systems at all levels, while maintaining the strict confidentiality of any data it holds.

The new fully managed system allows both internal and external end-users to perform tasks more effectively than previously, while also ensuring the protection of sensitive data. It has also made it easier for residents and citizens to access information on government services, as well as receive answers to their enquiries.

One of the first departments within the Ministry of Public Works to benefit has been Housing and Urban Planning. "We needed to ensure that a number of key business requirements were met when working on a hosted model," explained the department's executive director, Zahara Al Aboodi. "[These requirements included] E-services with transaction logs and records that remained fully auditable, an internal process that was streamlined to reduce operational overhead costs, a platform that was in line with the UAE's transformation vision, and a system that could be easily accessed by even the less savvy IT end-users.

"We are extremely pleased with the design, implementation, and the on-going management of the overall solution. Our requirements to access sensitive data with a framework having the highest levels of security were completely understood. Thanks to a trusted local service provider, a 24-hour service desk can ensure our queries are resolved quickly and to our level of satisfaction."

The fully managed hosted environment running this system for the federal government required the highest levels of monitoring and managed security. Through systematically executed information security measures, the federal government's IT infrastructure was successfuly implemented, thereby allowing end-users to access a system that was highly reliable and available.

Looking outside of the UAE, analyst house Gartner cautions that the path to greater IT development in the GCC requires a number of ‘radical' steps that governments need to aggressively introduce in order to increase the cost efficiency of managing their IT networks.

Its suggestions include introducing public cloud services and allowing staff to work remotely; by looking at ways of reducing IT expenditure now, while governments still had the ability to look carefully at their options, they could avoid a slash and burn approach further down the line.

"Government organisations in most of the Western world have already gone through one or two cost-cutting cycles during the past few years," said Andrea Di Maio, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

It also advised governments to cancel high-risk, high-profile programmes, as well as those citizen facing channels that were proving ineffective, and instead focus on linking interoperability frameworks in order to reap the cost synergies brought by the approach.

"The aftermath of the most recent global financial crisis, the sluggish recovery in some countries and the significant levels of debt require continued and increasing cost-containment discipline and are forcing government organisations to explore new avenues of cost reduction," Di Maio added.

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