By Ahmed Auda, Regional Managing Director, METNA
If ever technology needs a case study, there’s little more to do than point to last year.
At VMware we often speak of resilience. Digital transformations are neither for the sake of digital or transformation, but rather for the sake of the resilience that comes with a strong digital foundation. Organizations and institutions saw, felt and lived the impact of technology. They understood just how integral IT, infrastructure, and automation is for business continuity. Those with an existing cloud-first approach, and those who didn’t hesitate to embrace cloud and cloud-ready solutions, had greater flexibility and agility and were able to scale their IT capacity as needed, both quickly and easily. They were better able to continue offering services externally to clients and to ensure connectivity internally to employees.
Resilient companies can’t predict the future, but they can be prepared and have the groundwork in place to survive and thrive. The year 2020 was truly proof of concept for this.
The Pandemic’s Overlooked Test
While the pandemic didn’t invent the need for digital transformation, it is responsible for changing business objectives, priorities and strategies. And just as profoundly, the pandemic – or rather the very significant and sudden changes it brought about in regards to the way we work – tested business leaders everywhere.
The pandemic pushed millions of people to work from home. The learning curve for many organizations and their leaders was quite steep with valid concerns around security, access to systems and data, management oversight, productivity and accountability. But whenever we speak of technology and digital and transformation and cloud, we always come back to the impact on individuals and people; to the human side of the story.
Leaders found themselves with an urgent need to guide their organizations into new ways of communicating, collaborating, relationship-building, servicing and problem-solving, when few really understood what and how that would be. There was a need for increased communication, a deliberate effort to engage and, very crucially, to strike the right tone. There was a need to convey calm and optimism when many perhaps felt neither. A need for honesty and transparency when distance could have encouraged the opposite.
The leaders that passed the test were creative in finding ways to sustain team spirit and company culture; advocated for work-life balance as precarious as that was for many; made clear that it was not business as usual and yet inspired continued productivity.
Yes, technology played a big part in allowing leaders to lead. But their humanity was the real differentiator.
The Region’s Emphasis on Life Betterment
We have seen a number of countries in the region that responded well to the pandemic
because of their level of preparedness. The UAE is but one example. In recent years, the government has taken solid measures to focus on digital services in order to improve client experience and increase citizen happiness. This saw many – but not all, of course – government departments able to address the pandemic with minimal disruption.
One of the defining features of this region is the use of digital transformation for the purpose of improving quality of life. The vision plans that many governments are driving have already been leveraging digital transformations as a way to provide better healthcare, better education and better opportunities for their citizens. Technology as a tool for better life, not just better business.
For example, the work we do in Egypt with the National Telecommunication Institute and the establishment of the VMware IT Academy is in support of the country’s ambitious 2030 strategy. Our work is about people though it is technology-based: providing accessibility to technology education and training for Egypt’s young and fast-growing population, the skills, know-how and confidence to not just succeed in the digital economy, but to also take their country further.
In the UAE, American Hospital Dubai is working with VMware to build a private cloud which will act as a shared IT service platform not just for the hospital but for the whole Mohammad Obaid Al-Mulla Group. Within the hospital there are silos of IT, for example in bio-medical engineering and facilities management, and migrating everything to one common platform will bring lots of benefits. By using VMware vRealize Suite to manage this private cloud, the hospital will be able to automate a lot of IT infrastructure management, improve the ongoing management of provisioned resources and understand the consumption of resources by end users. It gives the hospital a digital platform to underpin the roll out of new healthcare services as needed in the future.
We will continue to see the acceleration of digital transformation projects especially with the emergence of 5G which will enable many use cases and benefits around AI, cloud services and data analytics.
The growth and maturity of these technologies will continue to experience rapid growth in 2021 and provide huge potential across all sectors. The combined impact of these technologies are already enabling the automation of transport and logistics; driving massive advances in fin-tech and essential improvements in healthcare and medicine and productivity in agriculture. These are only a few examples of the opportunities inherent in the technologies.
We will be seeing automation head-to-head with businesses processes and objectives that typically took priority.
And we will see HR undergo the pressure and the re-defining of priorities, roles and policies that IT has been seeing last year. It’s not just the technology that will shape the remote-everything, work-from-anywhere, distributed and hybrid workplace of the future; it’s the practices and policies as well.
At VMware, we have a strong set of beliefs and pursuits. We believe that software can create unlimited possibilities for our customers, and that we can transform the impossible into the essential. We commit to offering our customers the flexibility and choice to find success on their own terms. A global pandemic certainly puts a company’s philosophy to the test! I am proud that our words held up, and we move into a post-pandemic year excited to continue realizing what’s possible.
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