CNME Editor Mark Forker secured an exclusive interview with Haidi Nossair, Client Solutions Group lead for the MERAT region, at Dell Technologies, to find out how the IT leader has helped their customers maintain business continuity during the COVID-19 crisis – and how the company is fully committed to driving greater diversity and inclusion in its workforce.
Nossair has enjoyed a decorated and distinguished career in the IT industry, and her recent appointment as Client Solutions Group, in the MERAT region, only serves to further illustrate her standing within the organisation.
COVID-19 has impacted the way we work, when we work, and where we work and we began our conversation by discussing how Dell Technologies coped when lockdown commenced in March, and how they helped their customers remain operational.
“We were able to maintain business continuity across our entire organisation by utilising what we call ‘Dell Digital’, which is our IT department. We were able to leverage Dell Digital to enable 90% of our global workforce to be able to effectively work remotely in less than two weeks. The reason we were able to do that so quickly and efficiently was before the pandemic we had already launched the first version of our ‘connected workplace’ program,” said Nossair.
Nossair also pointed out that company’s ability to adapt to the unprecedented circumstances so quickly, ultimately enabled the technology leader to be on hand to help their customers be able to transition their workforce to a virtual environment.
“During the initial stages of the crisis we also ensured that our supply chain remained operational from the beginning, and all these factors allowed us to serve our customers and help them to convert their workforce from the compounds of a traditional office environment into a virtual remote one. We were able to share with them our experiences about how to create an effective, productive and efficient remote working environment. This provided the customer with the feeling that we weren’t simply there to provide specific products, but instead knew that we were there for them as a trusted partner in good days and in bad,” said Nossair.
Dell Technologies are known globally for its ability to see trends ahead of the curve, and the charismatic Client Solutions Group Lead disclosed that part of their long-term strategy was workforce transformation.
“We have spent the last number of years talking about workforce transformation. Essentially, what workforce transformation is about is identifying the right personas of your employees within your organisation and determining what their requirements are when it comes to systems, applications and basically making sure that you provide them with the right set of tools and devices to enhance their productivity and make them efficient. We believe that work is simply not just a place to go, but that it is an outcome that you deliver, so with that in mind it doesn’t matter where you conduct your work from as long as you’re productive, connected and have the right applications to do your job effectively,” said Nossair.
Nossair claimed that the transition to a remote workforce not only enhances employee satisfaction but enables a wider diverse and inclusive workforce that’s not just limited to women.
“I’m talking about real diversity, whether it is related to your gender, ethnic orientation or people with disabilities, this move towards a remote workforce will deliver greater inclusion in the work environment. If you’re delivering results and being productive then it is irrelevant where your work location is. Since the beginning of the pandemic organisations have also seen that not only is remote working a success, but in fact it also has a positive impact on their OPEX,” said Nossair.
COVID-19 has created many new trends and changed consumer behavior and spending habits, but one other direct consequence of the pandemic has been the huge acceleration in digital transformation across the Gulf region.
Nossair highlighted how Dell Technologies has been talking about digital transformation for years, but the results of two surveys it carried out in 2016 and 2018 stunned the global IT leader.
In 2016, we conducted ‘The Digital Transformation Index’ survey and then refreshed it again in 2018. Shockingly, in both surveys we conducted we discovered that only 5% of organisations were leading digital transformation. It didn’t change at all from the first survey to the second survey, in fact there was only a 9% increase in adopters. However, if we ran the survey now, you’ll find a totally different set of results. I believe that the pandemic pressed the fast-forward button on digital transformation, which in turn also accelerated workforce transformation and IT transformation,” said Nossair.
The Client Solutions Group lead for the MERAT region at Dell Technologies also illustrated how the transformation that they’ve witnessed has been supported by a strong layer of innovative technologies such as the rollout of 5G in some countries and how AR and VR are much more familiar to the mainstream public than they were 12 months ago.
“These factors are underpinning the ability of organisations to adopt and embrace digital transformation much faster. When the pandemic hit this rather inevitably provoked a reaction from enterprises to create a remote workforce environment, but at Dell we call this a ‘do it light’ approach. The primary objective at the start was to maintain business continuity by ensuring the infrastructure is supported, which in turn enables productivity. However, the situation has now become normal and much more stable, so there is now an opportunity for organisations to ‘do it right’. A flexible work environment today is the ‘new normal’. The remote workforce is here to stay. We tried it, we know it works and this is what believe people mean when they say the ‘new normal’,” said Nossair.
Traditionally, the IT industry has been a male-dominated sector, but trailblazers like Nossair and others of her ilk are beginning to buck the trend and are paving a new way for the next-generation of female IT leaders.
She believes the industry has made great strides over the years to level the playing field, but there is still a lot of work to do.
“Over the last few decades more women have earned Bachelor’ degrees than their male counterparts, but despite this they are still less likely to be hired at entry level. If you look at management then the disparity widens even further and that increases even more the higher up the chain that you go. I believe that we still have a lot to do. That being said I do feel that there has been a concerted effort by organisations in the last few years to overhaul this, and I think there has been a realisation from major organisations and governments that diversity and inclusion is power and is something essential to have as oppose to being nice to have. Organisations that have more diversity and inclusion have a higher level of productivity, are more profitable and fosters a culture of innovation. These results are why on a global scale we’re seeing more companies invest in programs designed to cultivate more inclusion and diversity within their organisation,” said Nossair.
Dell Technologies have really led the way and shown tremendous leadership in terms of their commitment to increasing diversity, inclusion and sustainability across their entire organisation.
Nossair illustrated how it has a desire to create a long-lasting positive impact on the environment and societies that they operate in, citing the launch of their Social Impact Vision 2030: Progress Made Real program last year.
“Our Social Impact Vision 2030: Progress Made Real program is based on really advancing sustainability, driving inclusion and diversity and transforming lives through technology, and all three are underpinned with a commitment to withholding ethics not only across our organisation but with all the partners that we work with and that extends to our supply chain. Our aim by 2030, is to have 50% of our global workforce to be comprised of women, and 40% of our management to be women and they are our moonshot goals. We believe what you don’t measure then you can’t advance or improve, so that is why we have our strategic KPIs in order to achieve these goals. We’re currently at 31% when it comes to the inclusion of women in our global workforce, and we’re at 24% when it comes to management, so we still have a lot to do to meet our targets, but we’re focused on leveraging our technology to make this world a better place for all in society,” said Nossair.