With the ICT market in Lebanon expected to reach US$ 543.5 million by 2019, the country can boast a strong foundation for digital transformation initiatives. Intelligent CIO spoke to Kamal Othman, General Manager, Levant, Dell EMC, to find out how businesses in the country are using technology to transform themselves and their operations.
What challenges do companies in Lebanon face when embarking on digital transformation?
Limited financial resources are the most prominent barrier organisations in Lebanon face in their journey to become a successful digital business. Budgets allocated towards development of projects, reforms and initiatives for advancement of the public sector and collaboration between the public and private sector hampers the progress towards creating a digitised and innovation-focused economy.
This is closely followed by lack of reliable data that is important to facilitate speedy decision-making. New avenues of business and revenue cannot be identified in the absence of accurate data and lack of knowledge management.
Thirdly, lack of flexible rules and regulations that govern the public sector and organisational structures and mechanisms thwart efforts channelled towards automation and digitisation. Moreover, lack of workforce readiness, absence of digital vision and strategy and technology constraints to work at the speed of business also impede progress of transformation journeys embarked by organisations across Lebanon.
Why do different sectors in Lebanon face a unique digital transformation journey?
Most organisations across industries do not have the freedom to start anew, or rip and replace all their ICT investments in favour of modern and advanced IT infrastructure. Organisations have to contend with traditional systems that house critical data, so these systems cannot simply be transformed overnight.
Therefore, while some of the industries are much further along their digital transformation journey, others are just getting started and few have adopted a piecemeal approach. This is because while some of the issues and challenges faced by organisations may be similar, their resources, capabilities, appetite for disruption, and business needs can vary quite significantly.
How can organisations in Lebanon drive forward their digital transformation strategies?
Digital transformation isn’t only about implementing new mobile applications or technologies. It is more about transforming an organisation to leverage possibilities provided by new technologies. However, organisations do make heavy ICT investments, but do not adopt technology as a strategic means to an end. Therefore, they are unable to yield desired business outcomes at a faster pace.
According to the Investment Development Authority of Lebanon (IDAL), the ICT market in Lebanon is projected to reach US$ 543.5 million by 2019, thus laying a strong foundation for investments in digital transformation initiatives. So, in order to be better positioned and truly capitalise on opportunities offered by the digital age, organisations need to first and foremost access and evaluate their business objectives.
The needs and priorities of an organisation of any size are constantly evolving, influenced by a range of factors both internal and external. This is followed by a thorough review of the IT infrastructure, and modernisation where needed through flash-based and converged technologies, automating operations, creating virtual and software-defined servers, storage and networking, and delivering the right services at the speed the business requires.
It is not all ‘rip & replace’ at this stage, but a comprehensive review of the foundation itself, which is then followed by the adoption of the applications and services that will deliver a transformed experience for employees and customers.
Following which, organisations need to assess the below competencies before developing a digital transformation strategy:
- Foster closer ties between IT and business innovation
- They must switch to greater use of sensors and instrumentation across the business
- They need to be able to derive insights from all the data available to the business
- Lastly, choose the right technology provider
How can organisations in Lebanon foster human innovation and drive real socio-economic change?
At Dell EMC, we believe that innovation needs to have real human impact, and this is the basis of our vision of technology as a driver of human progress. It is heartening to see that technological innovation of late, particularly from the start-up and disruptor community, is all primarily designed to address a human concern or societal issue.
Disrupting the socio-economic status quo, long seen as the realm of artists and revolutionaries, is now a primary function of technology thinkers the world over. An open market such as the one in Lebanon, which fosters an ecosystem and culture of innovation and creativity, is an ideal platform for innovation with local and global impact.
Lebanon should be proud of its strong, committed, and creative disruptor community, which is leading the wider Middle East region in terms of the quality and relevance of their innovation as drivers of socio-economic transformation.
The primary responsibility of organisations is to be open to exploring ways of challenging the way things are done. Very often, large organisations are wary of change. The fact is that the disruptor movement has shifted the onus of innovation with human impact towards the lower end of the market, simply because larger organisations got too caught up with working with Governments and large enterprises. While it is clearly a successful revenue model, Dell EMC has realised the value in retaining focus on technology as a driver of human progress, and this now informs our innovation, market activity, and engagement with industry.
Why are organisations in Lebanon finding that ‘IT is no longer a business function but business itself’?
The ultimate goal of any organisation is to be able to deliver a differentiated product or service to the market whether through a capability that nobody else offers, or the speed with which one can offer it.
In doing so, an organisation becomes the trusted, go-to option for its target customers.
With the fourth industrial revolution disrupting the way every industry operates, organisations have realised that IT injects new efficiencies in their existing processes and operations, provides a competitive edge and meets the length and breadth of consumer demands as well as business needs.
IT offers organisations increased agility to function at the speed of business, so that it can be nimble in the face of market conditions and opportunities.Gaining first-to-market advantage is undeniably important, even more so in an age when consumers are used to getting what they want instantly and technology habits dictate stickiness with one vendor versus another. Therefore, IT has assumed a central role across all functions in an organisation.
How can businesses in Lebanon use digital transformation to address customer needs?
In order to meet the needs of the modern customer, organisations need to deliver exceptional customer experiences through their products and services. More often than not, these will require organisations to build new muscles around making data-driven decisions, and the use of software to make products and services smarter. This is the reason behind the need for digital transformation.
Moreover, digital transformation is not optional. The increasing use of data analytics, the preponderance of smarter products that use software and sensors and the analytics required to sustain the cycle are being used by market leaders and disruptors. It is simply a choice to disrupt the status quo or be disrupted by the adopters of digital technologies.
How has Dell EMC enabled organisations across Lebanon to adopt technology across their businesses?
It’s no longer enough for an organisation to align technology to their business. It must be able to lead its business. The fact is, digital disruption is impacting everything from an industry, competition, to opportunities and risks. To this end, digital transformation is not the new norm, but an imperative for success in the digital age. Failing to deliver in such a highly contested marketplace could trigger the beginning of a digital crisis.
Hence, as part of Dell Technologies’ unique family of businesses, we provide the essential infrastructure for organisations to build their digital future, transform IT and protect their most important asset: information.
We seek to become the most trusted advisor to our partners and customers in Lebanon by providing capabilities spanning strategy development, consultative services and solution deployment and support to accelerate the cycle of innovation, create competitive differentiation, reinvent their business and become more digital.
In line with this commitment, we make a concerted effort to provide best-in-class products, solutions and services designed to help our partners and customers transform three key areas of business: IT, workforce and security.