The changing role of IT in this era of digital transformation that we now find ourselves in is a hot topic of discussion, and one that was touched upon yesterday during a CNME and ManageEngine symposium in Kuwait.
IT and business leaders from across the country gathered to assess the state of digitalisation within Kuwait’s organisations, and it became very clear that digital transformation is no longer a fad, but a reality across many businesses.
The first speaker of the day was Tariq Al-Osaimi, chief digital officer for National Bank of Kuwait. As CDO, Osaimi explained, he is expected to take charge of transforming the entire bank’s operations to digital, which is no small feat for a bank the size of NBK.
While a CDO tends to be a reasonably new role within an organisation, Osaimi quoted a PwC statistic that claims 38 percent of EMEA companies now have a CDO – demonstrating a 60 percent growth on figures from 2017.
But it is not as simple as just assigning an individual to take charge of driving this new transformative era, as digital is much more than that, Osaimi explained. “When we first brought in email, we never needed a chief email officer,” he said. “The threat back then wasn’t facing our entire entity, as digital is today. There are now so many things a CDO has to consider, that you need the cooperation of the entire senior management if you are to truly make a difference.”
Rami Al-Haddad, group IT director for National Aviation Services, gave an interesting spin on the value of IT in the transformation of a business. “It’s like buying a treadmill,” he said. “You can invest in it, but if you don’t use it – it gives no benefits.” He aligned this analogy with the fact that businesses must invest in their IT departments while also giving them the capacity to execute projects for four reasons: to enable growth, cut costs, optimise operations or ensure compliance.
And for a company operating in over 13 countries and 35 international airports, handling over 85,000 flights annually, Haddad believes that going digital is “no longer an option, but a fierce reality” for NAS.
“Digital transformation is happening, and it will continue to be pushed for – if not by IT, then by consumers who simply demand it or they’ll go to your competition,” he said.
Gibu Mathew, director of product management at ManageEngine, also spoke during the session, and highlighted the need for businesses to adopt AI-driven operation tools if they were to truly accelerate their digital transformation progress.