Go digital or risk playing catch-up, BT experts warn

Majority of businesses say in a recent survey their infrastructure is struggling to support digitisation

Tags: BT GroupDigital transformationUnited Arab Emirates
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Go digital or risk playing catch-up, BT experts warn digital technologies can help enterprises create innovative business models in the post-oil era, El Kabbany observes.
By  David Ndichu Published  January 29, 2017

BT executives have made a clarion call for a revamp of organisations’ approach to customers and competition in the digital arena. This comes as the region’s post-oil economies drive technology to the fore among regional public and private organisations.

During a press conference ahead of BT’s four-city “Make The Digital Possible” roadshow in the Middle East, scheduled to make its Dubai stop on January 31st, BT executives emphasised the critical role of digital technologies in meeting the challenges of a post-oil economy. To address budget constraints, diversification, digital disruption and competition, newer business models need to be introduced and implemented across an organisation, the company executives says.

“With the need for economic diversification, we can already see a firm and encouraging shift towards a digital mindset in the Middle East,” says Wael El Kabbany, BT’s vice president for the Middle East and North Africa.

“Governments in the region want the best for businesses and citizens alike, with corresponding investments being made in line with this mandate. Programmes such as Saudi Vision 2030, Smart Dubai and Abu Dhabi Vision 2030 show that digital transformation is being prioritized at the highest levels in the GCC. As 2017 looks to be another financially challenging year, digital technologies can help enterprises create innovative business models, deliver an exceptional customer experience and enable national economies to come up with new revenue streams in a post-oil future,” he adds.

This is not to say that the digital transition is without its challenges. According to the “BT CIO Report 2016 – The Digital CIO”, a survey of 1,030 senior IT decision-makers based in eleven countries, 65 per cent of organisations report that their current infrastructure is struggling to support the rapid adoption of digital technologies. Furthermore, 79 per cent of senior IT decision-makers feel that the IT function lacks the ability to advise other vital business functions.

However, technology has become a board-level discussion and is demonstrating its transformative potential. 72 per cent of senior IT decision-makers say that the CIO has become more central in the boardroom over the last two years and 43 per cent of CIOs say that they now spend more time dealing with corporate issues. Meanwhile, 70 per cent of boardrooms expect their CIO to be an innovative force and creative disruptor – a telling indicator of what is expected of the IT function, at a time when real-time response to events and customer queries is needed more than ever before.

 “What we’re witnessing right now is nothing less than a complete paradigm shift in the way companies carry out day-to-day operations, and interact with their customers,” says Chris Cochrane, CIO, global services, BT. “Public expectations are at an all-time high and digital disruption has rendered the mantra of ‘business as usual’ obsolete. Technology is now the one element that separates the pioneers from the rest, altering traditional business models, and will prove to be instrumental in driving tremendous value for organisations in the region.”

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