Fresh thinking

cio50CNME’s fifth annual CIO 50 awards ceremony not only served as the perfect way to congratulate the region’s IT chiefs, but was also an esteemed forum for five keynote speeches from industry experts.

In light of Cisco’s prediction that, by 2020, there will be 50 billion devices that are connected to the internet, the so-called “explosion of data” will play a key role in businesses gaining a competitive advantage.

The potential for Big Data analytics was high up on the agenda at the awards, with several keynote speakers highlighting opportunities for future development.

Kicking off proceedings was Ifran Jeraj, Director, Solution Architecture, ICT, Etisalat, whose speech, The Digital Revolution, focused on the obligation of enterprises to fully utilise social media, mobility, Big Data and cloud to drive business evolution.

“HMV music store is a prime example of what can go wrong if a businesses do not become digital,” he said. “In 2003, the iTunes store opened and it combined early elements of cloud, Big Data and social media. HMV did not embrace the change, and it went into administration. Likewise with Borders book store failing to match Amazon; it’s essential that businesses capitalise on digital advantages to remain competitve.”

He went on to highlight the importance of disruptive technologies, including 3D printing, advanced robotics and next-generation genomics.

The always-colourful Arun Tewary, VP of IT, Emirates Flight Catering, used his keynote to discuss technology evolution across centuries.

He emphasised that technology’s evolution up to this point is just the beginning. He said, “Telecommunications, computers and information technology are the highest-impact technologies in history. The future is what matters, and the way we’re going, we run the risk of drowning in data.”

MBC’s Head of IT, Ali Radhi, was next up, and his talk, Commercialising Big Data, echoed points made by Jeraj about the importance of Big Data analytics. He described three key steps that would ensure an organisation can get the biggest commercial value out of Big Data: “First of all, the right data to analyse must be chosen. Then you must build models that predict and optimise business outcomes, and then you transform your company’s capabilities through data analysis.”

Dr Hazem El Khatib, IT Director, Abu Dhabi Department of Finance, and Esam Hadi, Manager, IT, Aluminium Bahrain, both took the opportunity to highlight how modern infrastructures had transformed their respective organisations. El Khatib explained that, by implementing an ERP system, he had decreased the time needed for payroll processing and purchasing cycles amongst numerous other business objectives. Hadi, meanwhile, discussed the implementation of his HR Info Hub, which provides employees with information interactively.

Basil Ayass, Regional Marketing Director, Dell Middle East, took on the role of master of ceremonies for the event, and had some sage advice for his high-achieving audience: “Every CIO in this room has seniority. Some have master’s degrees, some PHDs. But there is still undoubtedly so much that we can all learn from Big Data; we do not know everything as we are.”

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