“Digital is the main reason just over half of the companies on the Fortune 500 have disappeared since the year 2000.” – Pierre Nanterme, CEO of Accenture
The Digital Transformation Conclave 2017, held on the 8th of Feb at the Raffles Hotel, in partnership with Microsoft and Protiviti, saw a confluence of great minds from the IT and business worlds of the Middle East. Professionals from leading organizations came together to discuss and share the emerging digital trends needed now and in the future. In the current era, key technologies are driving digital transformation across industries. Disruptive technologies used in services and products will accelerate the growth of digital transformation. Understanding and adapting to these changes and their associated challenges is one of the top priorities of businesses today. Aptly themed ‘Leading Digital Transformation’ the conclave witnessed business leaders and change agents participating in panel discussions titled ‘Enabling Digital Transformation’ and ‘Driving Business Advantage with Digital Transformation. The event began with a welcome address by Mr. Chandrasekhar Singh, GM-Corporate Relations at SP Jain highlighting the ways of implementation of blended learning at the school, need for digital transformation and focus on the Internet of Things (IoT). He welcomed the keynote speaker for the conclave, Mr. Rabea Ataya, CEO, Bayt.com, UAE and a member of the Industry Advisory Board. Mr. Ataya set the tone for the conclave with a focus on the opportunities of digital transformation, risks of not digitizing, importance of encouraging internships for students and relevance of digital ethics. He also addressed the rising concern of technology disrupting employment and firms creating greater value with lesser people in the workplace.
Following the key note address, Dr. Karippur Nanda Kumar, Associate Professor and Area Head- IT, SP Jain School of Global Management, presented the key findings of a research undertaken by SP Jain, titled “Making Sense of Digital Disruption”. Building a competitive advantage and creating new business models were two solutions for coping with innovative disruption. Mr. Kumar emphasized on how Dubai’s IT sector must concentrate on leading change, customer centricity and moving towards an innovative mindset, setting the tone for the two panel discussions. The first panel discussion was chaired by Mr. Dhrupad Mathur, Assistant Dean-Executive MBA & Associate Professor, IT Management at SP Jain. It focused on Enabling Digital Transformation of work at the workplace and discussed in detail how firms were catching up with technological advancements and what they plan for the future. Mr. Mazen Fayad, Microsoft’s Digital Transformation Lead in the UAE, described how services help to accelerate digital advancement, why firms’ focus must be on cognitive solutions to problems and what the differences between change and transformation were. Change is fixing the past and transformation is creating a brighter future. Mr. Pedro S Pereira, Senior Innovation & Digital Transformation Lead, SAP, UAE spoke about data being the foundation of digital transformation. Transformation should be spearheaded by bold leaders such as the CEO and companies should concentrate on becoming agile, lean and technology driven. He had a three step approach to success: humility-willingness to learn at any level, hunger- the desire to transform to a digital model and smartness-people becoming tech-savvy.
Mr. Si-Mohammed Said, Regional Head of Marketing & Digital, Oracle, UAE highlighted that the three major game changers in the field of technology today are Cloud, Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things(IoT). Mr. Juan Jose De La Torre, Digital Transformation Leader, IBM, UAE, spoke about people being a major success factor in the whole transformation process. Product and services are replaced by enhanced experience and that’s why focusing on the customer is highly necessary. Mr. Amar Pandit, Consultant, Deloitte, UAE emphasized on the significance of social media for targeted marketing, digital media for influencing, analytics for profiling, cloud technology and internet of things for effective digital transformation. The session came to an end with Mr.Mathur and the esteemed panellists discussing a few instances of failure of companies to cope with digital transformation and the future prospects of success in this particular field.
Post the coffee break, the second panel discussion themed ‘Driving Business Advantage with Digital Transformation’ was chaired by Mr.Thomas Kuruvilla, Managing Partner, Arthur D Little, UAE, who suggested that it is not necessary to carry out feasibility studies but concentrate on current customer expectations and getting data integrated on one common platform. Mr.Samir Soliman, Managing Director-Group Acquiring Network International, UAE said that in today’s world, customer convenience drives digitization and this in turn is driven by value creation. Mr. Senthil Kumar, Managing Director-IT Consulting, Protiviti, UAE, explained to the audience that customer needs are not the same as customer experience or customer expectations. The industry no longer runs solely on the 3Ms i.e. Men, Material and Money but on the adoption of the digital revolution. He suggested that everybody must know at least one technology. Value creation is possible with digitization, innovation gets imitated easily and nothing can be kept a secret from consumers anymore, informed Mr.Hursh Agrawal, Chief Operating Officer, Hisense, UAE. Like Mr. Pedro from the first panel, Mr.Omar Yaghmour, Managing Director, Fetchr, UAE also reiterated the fact that one must be hungry to solve a problem. He proposed predictability, visibility and convenience as Fetchr’s vision and this is tailored by the entire workforce and not just the CEO.
A few questions raised by the audience led to the panel members discussing topics such as industries changing their core competencies, block chain and crowd funding in the UAE, digital currency being a scarce resource and a probable introduction of “coffee coins” in the form of a loyalty program. Mr. Chandrasekhar Singh then delivered the concluding remarks with a thank you note. The guests enjoyed a memorable event, exchanging thoughts and ideas, networking with other delegates during the coffee and lunch breaks.
The event was also covered by Gulf news. You may read about it here.