Networking

Staying afloat in the riptide of convergence

In recent years the Middle East has seen significant growth in many different markets but few as dramatic as in the information technology sector. This has been facilitated by the region encouraging private companies as well as a more hands off approach by local and federal governments, allowing for ease of foreign travel.

With business getting done easier and over wider markets, corporations in the Middle East are looking at their internal IT infrastructures to determine the best ways to streamline launching of products to market most efficiently, provide the best services to their customers and protect internal and external data. These are especially key areas of focus when concerns about broadband capabilities are replaced with a stronger mobile and IT convergence shift.

The chief concern for Marwan Al Siddiqi, Information Technology Director at Al Rajhi Investment Group, had been experiencing unacceptable internet speed which hampered the ability to grow. This has now transformed into the need to identify the technologies and trends that will drive greater efficiency in the delivery of IT. As a result he will be looking at the appropriate technologies to accomplish this at the CIO Summit MENA in November.

As telecoms and IT move closer towards convergence the ways in which businesses use the communications components to support business activities continues to change. The old days of telecoms players expecting users to fit their business needs into a rigid, expensive highly technology-focused set of services is being challenged. Instead of hiding behind technology, the Telcos and their partners need to hide the technology while exposing the services and how they relate to the business within which they are being used.

This has been accentuated most recently by the current news that Intel will be acquiring McAfee for $7.68 billion in cash. This will be beneficial to most CIOs and IT Directors when utilizing Intel servers due to the added level of security and management systems that will become inherent in the imbedded Intel hardware. Graham Titterington, principal analyst at Ovum explains that; “McAfee’s products extend beyond IT Security into governance and aspects of systems management, and so this acquisition will increase Intel’s exposure to the CxO level executives in the world’s largest organizations.”

Implementing the most effective technologies for business continuity is only one of the issues that CIOs are concerned with, another being the creation of the appropriate customer relationship management solutions. This is also a major topic that is will be discussed at the CIO Summit MENA on November 29th through December 1st when leading executives like Kirit Shah, CIO at Landmark Group, John Loomis, CIO at Arab National Bank, Fady Sleiman the CIO for Global Banking MENA at GE Capital, and Mahmood Shaker, Head of IT at Qatar First Investment Bank will be attending.

These executives will discuss the need for appropriate CRM software needed in a region predicted to experience annual compound growth in CRM software purchases of 12 to 13 percent until 2012. This becomes a gain or loss of competitive advantage if competing companies are lacking in an effective way to communicate and provide services to their customers.

More and more companies in the Middle East are becoming interested in deploying high-end technology to gain competitive advantage while at the same trying to keep their IT infrastructure costs to a minimum. As a result, the IT services market in this region is predicted to grow rapidly over the next 2 years, reaching US$3.5 billion by 2011 with exceptional growth expected in outsourced services, particularly in managed network and desktop services. However, can the quality of IT services delivered to end-users in the Middle East keep up with and challenge the standards seen on a global basis?

More details on the event are available at www.ciosummitmena.com

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