A word of advice

In the last month, separate CIO events were conducted in Dubai by two of the largest IT analyst groups in the world – IDC and Gartner.

In truth, despite outward similarities, the two events were very different in nature. IDC claims that its event was restricted to the top IT spenders in the region – 100 CIOs who among them hold nearly $2b of spend. The agenda of presentations included vendors and end-users from the region talking about everything from cloud and virtualisation to BI and CIO challenges.

Gartner’s event on the other hand was more a collection of CIOs in the forefront of technology adoption for business goals, brought together to share insights from each other. Consequently, the agenda remained a mix of Gartner analysts and regional end-users going on stage to talk strategy, business and technology alignment and the roadmap that CIOs in the region should consider.

I applaud both approaches and hope both firms continue to enable such CIO gatherings in the region. More often would be good, too.

At both events, there was a fair share of international speakers taking the stage. In many respects, they are invited to give regional CIOs an idea of the path that others have traversed and to help them learn from the mistakes that have already been made. The best practice argument, in other words.

Yet, my personal experience suggests that, at times, such sessions prove doubtful at best and disastrous at worst. Why? Because the speakers address the audience too much from the standpoint of the developed market, and they assume too much – the regional use of a particular technology or the availability of support and service or the existence of multiple redundancy options and so on.

The result? A disconnect with the audience. From jokes that fall flat on a mixed regional audience to high-level breaking technology, they seriously miss the target.

By no means is this a blanket criticism of the international perspective. No, all I’m suggesting is that international speakers need to gain a better understanding of regional market conditions in order to better connect with regional audiences. By doing so, the speakers can go a long way in helping the regional CIO understand a lot more from the person on stage and make him/her much more approachable for a further conversation off it.

Blowing our own trumpet just a little, I believe CNME’s CIO roundtables illustrate an advance in this thought process, since their aim is to encourage regional CIOs themselves to share their thoughts and grievances, rather than leave them just listening to one man’s thoughts on what they should feel.

More of such interaction from other events in the region would be great!

For information on CNME’s CIO roundtables or to comment on trends and issues, in the regional ICT sector, please feel free to reach me at

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