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CHANNEL 2.0 CONFERENCE: Smart government pitches need different approach

Talk to business, not IT, keynote-speaker Asem Galal urges delegates

CHANNEL 2.0 CONFERENCE: Smart government pitches need different approach
Galal: We have failed miserably to tell business people how to transform their organisations.

The regional IT channel is squandering the opportunities associated with smart government initiatives because of ineffective communication between solution sales-people and prospective customers, a prominent Dubai-based consultant has warned.

Asem Galal, co-founder, Galal and Karawi Consulting, spoke with federal government officials, representatives from holding companies and other public sector executives, on their view of the region's channel organisations. In a keynote address to delegates of this year's Channel 2.0 Conference, Galal said channel companies were talking to the wrong people about the wrong things.

"In order for governments to [deliver smart services] there are lots of internal changes that need to take place," Galal said. "When I asked [government officials] how channel can fit into that, the major feedback I received from both the IT and business side was that the IT channel typically talks to the IT manager."

But Galal pointed out that the decision-maker in most smart-government projects was not the IT manager, but a separate business stakeholder.

"Most business managers in the government have KPIs to make their departments smart and the business managers are not necessarily technology experts, so what I've been hearing is that the IT channel should be engaging more with the business side and should not talk about technical stuff, but tell [business stakeholders] how IT can make the business different."

Galal revealed that during his investigation, interviewees only identified only one vendor that was able to "talk to business people about business solutions". He would not name the vendor, but his message was clear.

"Unfortunately, we have failed miserably to talk to business people and tell them how to transform [their organisations]. We have been talking to the IT manager and the IT manager has been doing a good job so far with traditional services. But, if you want to [move to] smart government, then that is a totally different kettle of fish."

He urged delegates to take advantage of innovation gaps in the public sector and plug them with solutions that were business-oriented.

"Business [heads] told me, ‘Sometimes we don't have ideas; if you want to come to us and tell us that other governments are doing [something] and here is the model, then [we will look at that],'" he said. "Most governments, when they start heading in a [new] direction, they pull the private sector along with them."

Galal identified smart government, smart cities and Expo 2020 as key drivers for business growth in the region. He also urged channel players to recognise the opportunities extant in tourism volumes, highlighting Dubai in particular as having annual visitor figures that were many times greater than the resident population of the emirate.

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