ISSUE 16 \ JANUARY 2020
PRECISION GROUP CIO ON HOW HIS FIRMâ€™S CLOUD-LED DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION DRIVE IS YIELDING RESULTS
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12 HOW PRECISION GROUP IS LEVERAGING THE CLOUD TO TRANSFORM ITS BUSINESS
IMPACT OF 10 THE AI ON WORK
FOUR NEW DEMANDS ON AI28 ENABLED ERP SYSTEMS
TRENDS 14 TECHNOLOGY OUTLOOK 2020
THE WAY TO A 30 LEADING SUSTAINABLE FUTURE
CHANGING 20 THE GAME
READY FOR 32 GETTING THE DATA DECADE
TO EXPECT FROM 22 WHAT CYBERSECURITY IN 2020
DOES 2020 HAVE 36 WHAT IN STORE FOR SOFTWARE
THE AGE OF EXPERIENCE
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INDUSTRY? PLANET 38 THE OF APPS
EMIRATES NBD BOOSTS DIGITAL JOURNEY WITH CORE BANKING SYSTEM UPGRADE CISCO ANNOUNCES ‘INTERNET FOR THE FUTURE’ STRATEGY GOVERNMENT LEADERS GATHER IN ABU DHABI TO DISCUSS DIGITAL REVOLUTION
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TURN OVER A NEW LEAF
his year could prove a pivotal one for many countries in the region. This is the year of Expo in Dubai, which is going to give a massive fillip to the country’s economy and attract around 25 million visitors. There are scores of technology companies coming to Dubai as part of their country pavilions, showcasing solutions that have the potential to transform our lives and work. This could also be a breakout year for cloud adoption in the Middle East, with all major providers setting up their facilities locally. They have significantly improved their delivery capabilities and have rolled out new features, and IT decision-makers have no choice but to embrace this paradigm shift in computing. With the increasing adoption of the cloud, security risks have also come to the fore, especially in the wake of much-publicised breaches involving open storage buckets on the cloud. Another trend to watch out for is automation, which is often confused with artificial intelligence. It’s very important to understand the difference between two – automation is all about
streamlining repetitive tasks without human intervention. It is already transforming sectors such as manufacturing, transportation, and utilities by contributing to business productivity. On the other hand, AI is all about getting intelligent machines to complete tasks that typically require human intelligence. The long-promised 5G is all set to arrive this year, and this next-generation mobile technology will enable a myriad of new applications, including IoT devices and autonomous cars. For businesses, no matter what size, it is time to think about how they could benefit from this new technology and make sure their access networks are ready to make a seamless transition from 4G to 5G. It is the start of a new decade and time for transformation. No doubt, traditional business models will change, and technology will become more pervasive than ever. The future does indeed look bright for CIOs, and they have an opportunity like never seen before to show leadership. I wish everyone a happy year and great success.
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EMIRATES NBD BOOSTS DIGITAL JOURNEY WITH CORE BANKING SYSTEM UPGRADE
mirates NBD has completed the third phase of its international core banking system upgrade, as it forges ahead with its ongoing digital transformation efforts to boost innovation and efficiency across its domestic and international operations. Leveraging advanced Finacle technology, the third phase of the project sees the rollout of the new core banking system for Emirates NBD Saudi Arabia, following prior launches in Singapore and the UK in November 2018 and July 2019, respectively. By end-2020, all Emirates NBD entities and markets will be consolidated onto one single, updated core banking platform, enabling the bank to offer new financial services more rapidly across all markets while reducing global IT costs.
The global initiative is the bank’s biggest in its ongoing AED 1 billion digital transformation that will enter its fourth and final year in 2020. It has already delivered many large-scale enterprise system improvements. This includes completing one of the world’s largest Calypso upgrades to enhance treasury services, strengthening the bank’s global payments capabilities with a new payments hub,
and introducing smartTrade for trade finance customers, while simultaneously building world-class, in-house cloud, agile, enterprise data, security and API-based architecture capabilities. Abdulla Qassem, Group Chief Operating Officer, Emirates NBD, said, “Emirates NBD is proud to announce the third phase of our international core banking system upgrade in Saudi Arabia, following successful launches in Singapore and the UK.” “This is another important milestone in our long-term digital transformation strategy that has already delivered numerous major upgrades and consolidations to our enterprise applications. In 2020, our focus is on concluding our most complex, multientity initiatives like the core banking system upgrade while ensuring all of our technology enhancements increasingly translate into seamless, innovative financial services for our customers,” he added.
FAWAZ ALHOKAIR MIGRATES TO AWS TO ACCELERATE DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION
Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair & Co., one of the largest franchise retailers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, MENA, Central Asia and Caucasus regions, has announced that it is moving the vast majority of its technology infrastructure to Amazon Web Services (AWS) to empower the company with the most advanced cloud technologies to serve the customers better. This cloud transformation will observe the company moving its last on-premises data centre to the AWS Cloud by the end of this year 2019 to accelerate its overall digital transformation strategy. Alhokair is working with AWS Advanced Consulting Partner 6
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Computer World International to support the migration and continued adoption of AWS services. Earlier this year, Alhokair, whose brand portfolio includes over 75 plus brands, developed an IT infrastructure and cloud strategy, and Marwan Makarzel, CEO of the company said that this strategy is focused on helping the business adapt to the fast changing retail industry that today is omni channel and catering to a digitally connected consumer base. The company chose AWS as its preferred cloud provider because of its agility and breadth of services. In its first phase of cloud adoption, Alhokair moved its core line-of-business applications to AWS, which have seen significant improvement in scalability, availability and performance. As Alhokair continues its cloud adoption, the company will be building its e-commerce and Business Intelligence (BI) platforms on AWS as it develops its omni channel strategy. The e-commerce platforms will be supported by analytics, prediction
and recommendation engines that leverage machine learning services such as Amazon Sagemaker and Amazon Forecast to provide a personalised shopping experience. Fawaz Alhokair is looking forward to take advantages of its large retail data sets with data analytics services such as Amazon Redshift to acquire better business and customer insights. The adoption of AWS will also enable the company to enhance warehouse management systems operations with the integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions to reduce costs and bring greater efficiencies. Mohammed Alenazi, CIO of information technology in Fawaz Abdulaziz Alhokair & Co., said, “In today’s fast changing retail landscape, we recognise the importance of being agile, scalable, speed and availability, and the AWS Cloud is the perfect solution for us to do that. As a customer centric company, we are now in a position to pilot and innovate rapidly in order to satisfy our customers and bring them the best shopping experiences.”
CISCO ANNOUNCES ‘INTERNET FOR THE FUTURE’ STRATEGY Cisco has unveiled further details behind its technology strategy for building a new internet — one designed to push digital innovation beyond the performance, economic and power consumption limitations of current infrastructure. A multi-year approach that is defining the internet for decades to come, Cisco’s strategy is already delivering technology breakthroughs to pave the way for the world’s developers to create applications and services they have only begun to imagine. Cisco introduced its latest innovation including Cisco Silicon One, the industry’s only networking silicon architecture of its kind; released the new Cisco 8000 Series, the world’s most powerful carrier class routers built on the new silicon; and announced new purchasing options that enable customers to consume the company’s technology through
disaggregated business models. “Innovation requires focused investment, the right team and a culture that values imagination,” said Chuck Robbins, Chairman and CEO, Cisco. “We are dedicated to transforming the industry to build a new internet for the 5G era. Our latest solutions in silicon, optics and software represent the continued innovation we’re driving that helps our customers stay ahead of the curve and create new, ground-breaking experiences for their customers and end users for decades to come.” Over the next decade, digital experiences will be created with advanced technologies — virtual and augmented reality, 16K streaming, AI, 5G, 10G, quantum computing, adaptive and predictive cybersecurity, intelligent IOT, and others not yet invented. These future generations of applications will drive complexity beyond the capabilities current internet infrastructure can viably support. For the past five years, Cisco said it has driven a technology strategy that is building the internet its customers will
GOVERNMENT LEADERS GATHER IN ABU DHABI TO DISCUSS DIGITAL REVOLUTION A powerful congress of senior government leaders, advisors and experts came together in Abu Dhabi to discuss the unprecedented digital revolution, recognise the potential opportunities presented by emerging technologies and explore ways to reinvent processes and reshape experiences for stakeholders. The inaugural Digital Next Summit, running from 8-9 December at Jumeriah Hotel, Etihad Towers, Abu Dhabi, brought together 34 speakers from the public and private sectors to analyse and examine digital transformation, and explore ways in which governments. businesses and individuals are embracing digital technologies to achieve excellence. The summit, hosted by Abu Dhabi Digital Authority (ADDA) and organised by Messe Frankfurt Middle East, highlighted
how important digital transformation is now to economic competitiveness, quality of life, business and personal growth. In her keynote address, H.E. Dr. Rauda Al Saadi, Director General, ADDA said that annual spending on digital transformation is set to exceed US$ 40 billion by 2022, and highlighted focal points for government including the integration of government entities and provision of omni-channel customer services, through to digital infrastructure, and innovation through the analysis of big-data via artificial intelligence. Abu Dhabi already plays a central role in the UAE’s digital future and supports the nation’s strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This strategy outlines intelligent government services as a key
need for the future success of their business in an advanced digital world. Aimed at Chuck Robbins, Cisco solving the toughest problems that will emerge as digital transformation taxes current infrastructure to its breaking point, this strategy will lead to the next-generation of internet infrastructure that combines Cisco’s new silicon architecture with its next-generation of optics. Cisco’s strategy is based on development and investments in three key technology areas: silicon, optics and software. Cisco also announced plans to offer flexible consumption models first established with Cisco’s Optics portfolio, followed by the disaggregation of the Cisco IOS-XR software, and now including Cisco Silicon One. This new model is highly adaptable and offers customers choice of components, white box, or integrated systems to build their networks.
focus area in efforts to deliver the world’s best intelligent, seamless and customercentric government services that enhance happiness and wellbeing. In his speech, H.E. Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, Minister of State and Executive Chairman, Abu Dhabi Global Markets highlighted the rapid pace of change in technology which offers governments and businesses alike the ability to do more than ever before. He said: “As leaders we must take calculated risks that make us more resilient in the future.” He ended his session by saying, “As we approach a new decade, we cannot afford to not be digital anymore.” H.E. Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence said that the UAE’s Artificial Intelligence strategy comes with lessons from the past and visions for the future. “Today, AI will boost all major sectors including tourism, infrastructure and real estate. The UAE will become an AI leader and will be at the forefront of digital transformation in the next decade due to its unique characteristics.
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HITIT, IBM STRENGTHEN COLLABORATION FOR AIRLINE BUSINESS CONTINUITY
itit, one of the airline and travel IT providers, and IBM announced an expansion of their existing collaboration on business continuity. Under the new agreement, Hitit will adopt IBM’s public cloud infrastructure, including availability zones, to serve as the primary back-up to its on-premises data center for resiliency and disaster recovery. This hybrid cloud strategy is designed to ensure continuous availability of critical applications and uninterrupted services to a list of Hitit clients that include 27 major airlines in 19 countries, travel agencies and ground handling companies. As one of the first aviation technology companies in Turkey, Hitit exports newgen technology to its all types of airlines across Asia, Europe, Africa, Middle East, and Latin America and provides its clients with software services in passenger services systems through to operation planning, accounting, travel merchandising, and cargo solution. Nevra Onursal Karaagac, the CMO at
Hitit said, “The collaboration between Hitit and IBM is an important step in boosting the standards in the aviation marketplace. Our partner airlines and travel clients are supported by the disaster recovery plan provided by the IBM public cloud, which strengthens the operational quality of air travel. This collaboration is a notable example of Hitit’s endless efforts to improve its services.” Today, crises can emerge through natural disasters, network outages or human errors or threats. As a result, system downtime can result in very high costs for businesses. As the amount of data increases, it is critical for businesses to protect their data and
EGYPT LAUNCHES NEW WASEL CONTACT CENTRE In line with its ongoing efforts to achieve the vision of the Egyptian government by strengthening the capabilities of and support for people with disabilities, Egypt’s Ministry of Communications & Information Technology has launched WASEL, a first-of-its-kind contact centre service in the region that provides hugely enhanced access to a variety of services for people with disabilities. Launched in accordance with the Presidential initiative establishing a National Council for People with Disabilities, WASEL is a contact centre that is technically equipped to provide people with hearing and speech impairments access to emergency, ambulance, rescue and firefighting services through video calls. Accessible to citizens via the new WASEL mobile 8
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application, the solution is built on Avaya IX Workplace, and provides multi-party video conferencing between citizens, call centre agents and sign language experts. “We are proud to launch the contact centre for the Services of People with Disabilities, which, through the application of WASEL, provides accessibility to key services in specialised agencies,” said Dr. Abeer Shakweer, Advisor to the Minister of Communications and Information Technology at the Egyptian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. “This is of great importance for the services the government can provide, and in many cases is related to saving the lives of people with disabilities.” WASEL enables citizens to video-call into a government call centre, and then
have the right business continuity plan in place to ensure the availability of that data, in any situation. The flexible and reliable structure of IBM public cloud allows for instant response to additional capacity demands, in case of an emergency, and ensures continuous availability of critical business processes. IBM’s nearly 60 global cloud data centers also provide advantages in the fulfillment of local access, low latency and certified security requirements. The Disaster Recovery solution also supports many of the regulatory requirements in aviation, especially ensuring the availability of data and services. Having seen these benefits, Hitit integrated their Disaster Recovery solution into their overall Business and IT Strategy. offer, and how they can be applied. Roberto Machado, CEO of Betablocks, said, “There is huge global interest in learning about blockchain and other emerging technologies. This strategic partnership with Fintech Consortium will allow us to share our knowledge and experience with different regions of the world, helping foster innovation and a skilled workforce”.
have their call quickly passed onto live sign language experts, enabling faster responses to emergency calls placed by people with hearing and speech impairments. Ahmed Fayed, Country Manager, Egypt & Libya, Avaya, expressed the pride that the company takes in cooperating with the Ministry to develop technological solutions that enrich the lives of people with hearing and speech disabilities. He stressed the importance of investing in advanced technological solutions to make qualitative improvements in the experiences of every citizen, and building a more inclusive society. “Avaya is looking forward to further collaboration with Egyptian government agencies to provide innovative technology solutions that contribute to equality of experience for all members of society,” he said.
WAMDA INVESTS IN UAE-BASED FINTECH STARTUP FLEXXPAY
(L-R) FlexxPay Founders Charbel Nasr and Michael Truschler
Wamda, the Middle East region’s leading startup ecosystem enabler, has invested in UAE-based financial technology (fintech) startup FlexxPay (flexxpay.com). The social impact company provides employee benefit solutions for businesses of all sizes in the Mena region. Wamda’s investment is part of FlexxPay’s latest round of funding, which includes previous individual and
corporate investors. FlexxPay’s proprietary cloudbased solution provides employees access to a series of services and benefits, including the ability to access their earned salary and earned commissions whenever needed. “FlexxPay is targeting a very clear pain point with an innovative and unique solution that will help unlock individuals’ income on an as-earned basis. We are confident in the team’s ability to drive the company forward and are excited to partner with them on that journey,” said Fadi Ghandour, Executive Chairman, Wamda. Michael Truschler, Co-Founder and CEO of FlexxPay said, “FlexxPay solves a real-world problem for employers and their employees. Giving employees access to what
they have already earned helps them to cover unexpected expenses and motivates them at the same time. Having Wamda as an investor further validates our business model and inspires our team as a whole”. Financial matters rank top of the list for employees when it comes to primary sources of stress, with 59 per cent stating finances were their primary cause of concern, according to “PwC’s 8th annual Employee Financial Wellness Survey” of 2019. This has created a space for fintech startups to address employee benefits and create a system supporting traditional human resources (HR) and finance teams in addressing pay period timing and bridging the gap between pay and spend times for employees.
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THE IMPACT OF AI ON WORK
TAJ EL-KHAYAT, REGIONAL DIRECTOR, MENA, CITRIX, ON THE RISE OF AI IN LEADERSHIP, AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR THE FUTURE OF WORK
he late Stephen Hawking wrote: “The real risk with AI isn’t malice but competence.” He urged business leaders to pursue AI with purpose and prudence but to embrace the coming changes. We’re entering an age where artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming a serious proposition at an executive leadership level, preparing us for a future where humans and machine can work together, cooperatively and
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harmoniously. It is too early to know the precise impact AI leadership will have on organisations. But, in essence, AI has the capacity to augment human decision-making, bringing to the boardroom more complex problemsolving and impartial data analysis than would otherwise be possible, while continuing to value human creativity and innovation. The business world today is already immersed in AI, and in many scenarios it has opened the doors to new and
more accurate ways of working. It isn’t too much of a leap, to envision AI being explored in a leadership context. Indeed, a recent Infosys study, Leadership in the Age of AI, found that for 45 percent of organisations globally, their AI deployments are already greatly outpacing the accuracy and productivity of comparable human activity. A PwC report also found that 62 percent of executives anticipate predictive analytics will augment their business decisions, leading to greater
efficacy in the years to come. Although such change brings inevitable concerns for leaders, it is important to focus on the possibilities, and understand how AI might be used to empower human decision-making in the future. The pioneers Scandinavian tech firm Tieto is a valued Citrix partner (and customer), and recently became the first European company to appoint an artificial intelligence (AI) bot to the leadership team of a new data-driven business unit. Called Alicia T., the bot can participate in team meetings and has the authority to vote on business decisions. “I am confident that Alicia T. will help us in finding information and making data-based decisions that humans don’t necessarily think of - and thus perhaps create something yet unforeseen,” said Ari Järvelä, head of Tieto’s Data-Driven Businesses, in a recent interview. While this might seem premature to some, Tieto isn’t the only business experimenting with bots in leadership. In 2014, Hong Kong-based life sciences fund Deep Knowledge Ventures appointed a computer algorithm to its board of directors, giving the program a vote on the start-ups to invest in. In Japan, ad agency McCann appointed a logic-based system named AI-CD ß as creative director and gave it real client accounts and campaigns to lead. The opportunity Humans can bring emotional intelligence, organisational knowledge, critical thinking, moral judgement, and creative flair to business leadership and decision-making. Yet the human brain also has limitations and is plagued with natural bias, which AI can counteract with hardcore data analysis. In the field of recruiting, particularly at a senior level, AI could help to tackle issues such as unconscious bias that has previously affected decision making and proved slow to eradicate. Within hiring decisions, AI could use data analytics to ensure there is balance and
diversity, also ensuring a level playing field for candidates regardless of gender, age, ethnic origin and location, for example. Ultimately, AI equips business leaders with hard evidence, possible outcomes, and predictions, which can help them to make informed, well thought out, unemotional, and data-informed decisions. The ethical and legal challenges All this poses questions around the rights AI bots at a senior level should have, versus humans, particularly in the context of end-user licensing agreements. Should legal entitlements be the same, for example? It’s likely that businesses will be pushed to think differently and challenge existing perceptions of how new customers are engaged, and contractual terms agreed, when a bot is undertaking negotiations. The AI legal landscape is still in its infancy, and how it will be regulated in the future is unclear. For example, who becomes liable for a senior-level decision made by a bot? Some markets will embrace the legal ramifications more quickly than others, but there
will be a need for clear guidelines that address ethical algorithms, as well as internal business policies. The transition period In this period of evolution, it is important for leaders to recognise that in many emerging markets, deals are still being done via handshakes and decisions are being made by humans. While some Citrix customers are talking about appointing a digital officer, others are exploring the role of an AI officer who will oversee human and machine collaboration. Although organisations should prepare for AI leadership now, there will clearly be a period of transition as late movers catch up. Fundamentally, it is important that business leaders consider their business context and culture and the segment of society they operate within. Granted, AI has the potential to solve advanced problems and complex decisions, but just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Any technical innovation must always make good business sense. Leaders should be focused on arming themselves with knowledge and considering the possibilities.
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WITH A CLOUD-FIRST STRATEGY, PRECISION GROUP IS DIGITALLY TRANSFORMING ITS BUSINESS TO GAIN A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE. JAYAKUMAR MOHANACHANDRAN, CIO OF THE COMPANY, TALKS ABOUT HOW HE IS SEIZING THE OPPORTUNITY OFFERED BY DISRUPTIVE TECHNOLOGIES.
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hat was the business case for your digital transformation push? Precision is a 36-yearold company, and we manufacture engineering goods, which are predominantly dies and tools. We were running on a legacy system for about 25 years, and as recently as three years back, we started thinking differently because we had a lot of issues when it came to our competitiveness in the market. This actually pushed us to do a study, which was done by KPMG, who told us that we needed to do a digital transformation of the business and change our aging platform because it was too old to adopt any of the emerging technologies. KPMG set our digital transformation roadmap, and then we started evaluating different vendors. We were worried about our processes, which were quite old. How to do a business process re-engineering along with the implementation was the question, and we narrowed down our choice of the vendor to SAP and Oracle. Being a manufacturing company, we were naturally inclined towards SAP, but what tipped the scale in favour of Oracle was the fact that weâ€™d to move ahead in this whole journey as fast as possible. KPMG recommended that the cloud would be one of our biggest enablers and if we wanted to go faster, it would be an ideal choice for us. Then again, we started evaluating the various cloud offerings from vendors and zeroed in on Oracle because they have all the products and services that we required in the cloud. How long did it take you to implement the cloud ERP? So, starting from the initial discussion, it took about a year to finalise the product. After we kicked off the project after finalising the vendor, it took us exactly nine months to roll it out. It was a big bang approach. We started in September 2017, and we finished in May 2018. In nine months, we went live with almost 18 core cloud modules, and now we have about 24 cloud offerings.
What are the benefits that you are seeing? One of the things which we see right now is that in any of the companies, particularly in the manufacturing industry, it takes time to bring in any change. And it takes time for them to understand the benefits of the system. Being on the cloud, from day one, we got a lot of advantages. We could get a lot of analytics from the get-go. That was something new for us because whenever we do any implementation, it takes time for the system to get stabilised, and even more time for the BI to come on top of that. It takes months or years to get the right analytics. So this was, like, from day one, everybody has got a dashboard, and it fundamentally changed the way we work. How about personalisation? Are you able to do the customisation on the cloud? Certainly, Oracle or any cloud provider for that matter, offers customisation, which is platform as a service, and we also have that. But when we started this whole journey, one of the agenda which we set out to the entire management team and the process champions was to go as vanilla as possible. This is because going on the cloud, doing a lot of customisation, and defining the same set of processes in the new system will not allow us to scale. So we wanted to reinvent the way in which we do things entirely. It was a complete top-driven project where the management was fully involved, including the CEO, who was the project sponsor. We had a very rigorous mechanism of reviews, in terms of monthly sharing committees and biweekly change management meetings, and we evaluated everything to make sure that we were going in the right direction. Which stage of the digital evolution has your company reached now? We did this in two phases. The phase one was the platform migration, which was completed in nine months. The stage two was more around the edge modules such as maintenance, planning central and
analytics cloud services. We completed phase two last year. We have completed the entire implementation and the system is stabilised. Currently, we are in the phase of trying out emerging technologies such as RPA, blockchain, and IoT. One of the interesting projects, which we are currently on within Precision, is a smart factory. We are looking at a solution to automate the entire shop floor. What are you going to use RPA for? The use cases which we are evaluating are for HR and finance. We are taking a different approach to this. We are starting with a workshop scheduled for the end of January and will have all the leadership and mid-management team participating. They will build the use cases for Precision. We are going to build an automation pipeline for the company as a strategy for the next year or two. And then, we will clearly allocate these projects in phases. How about blockchain? Oracle is doing a lot of big projects on the blockchain. And one of them, which you might have already heard, is a honeybee project. You can track a product, which is honey, right up to the farmer. This sounds very interesting for us because, intelligent track and trace within our supply chain is something very essential. You are on this digital transformation journey now. What is your destination? We want to transform Precision as a completely technology-driven organisation. The whole idea behind this transformation exercise was to increase our competitiveness and sustainability. The disruptive technologies are going to bring a lot of changes, and if we are not able to capitalise on that, that will be a loss for us. We are trying to understand which of these technologies can bring in maximum benefits to the manufacturing industry, and we are trying to cash in on that. Itâ€™s just a matter of plugging in those technologies at the right time because we have the right platform for it now.
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WHAT SHOULD BUSINESSES KEEP IN MIND AS THEY PLAN FOR GROWTH? WHAT NEW INNOVATIONS CAN WE EXPECT TO SEE IN 2020? HERE IS A RUNDOWN OF PREDICTIONS FROM INDUSTRY EXPERTS ON TRENDS THAT WILL SHAPE THE TECH LANDSCAPE THIS YEAR.
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Rajesh Ganeshan Vice president at ManageEngine
PROCESS AUTOMATION WILL GIVE WAY TO HYPER AUTOMATION In 2020, we will begin to see the rise of hyper automation, which is the meeting point of intelligence driven by AI and ML with autonomy driven by robotic and cognitive process automation. Hyper automation will help support dynamic and complex business
Users almost always plug in their own values. Therefore, AI and machine learning systems will start enabling us to disregard default values, as we understand them today, and act more quickly through trust in our data. We no longer will be beholden to predefined rules, defaults, or assumptions.
Vincent Lavergne, RVP of system engineering at F5 Networks
processes including loan processing, insurance claims, warehouse dispatch, and others. This will provide the unique advantage of mimicking user actions on terminals like carrying out transactions and generating dynamic content contextually to deliver on speed, accuracy, reliability and reduced costs.
Jonathan Wood General manager – Middle East and Africa, Infor
AI HELPS DEFINE A “NEW NORMAL” In 2020, AI and machine learning platforms will start to challenge conventional thinking, when it comes to enterprise business processes and expected outcomes. In other words, these systems will re-define our default assumptions about what is “normal.” This will make business process reengineering and resource training more efficient. When examining supply chain processes, for example, AI platforms have observed that default values – related to expected delivery dates and payment dates – typically are used only 4 percent of the time.
DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION TAKES SHAPE 2020 will see more organisations shift away from aspirational sloganeering to substantively embrace what can, and should be, a seismic step-change. Inevitably, business leaders will get more involved in application decisions designed to differentiate or provide unique customer experiences. Expect a new generation of applications that support the scaling and expansion of business’ digital models to emerge. This will include taking advantage of cloud-native infrastructures and driving automation through software development. Further down the line, digital
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transformation efforts will likely be AI-assisted, particularly as they leverage more advanced capabilities in application platforms, telemetry, data analytics, and ML/AI technologies. End-to-end instrumentation will enable application services to emit telemetry and act on insights produced through AI-driven analytics. We anticipate that these distributed application services will improve performance, security, operability, and adaptability without significant development effort.
Mark Ackerman Regional director – Middle East & Africa, ServiceNow
ENHANCING THE EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE To this end, in 2020, AI will turbocharge employee self-service. Intelligent systems will make it easier for workers to find information, manage workflows, and take a more proactive approach to initiating and
completing projects. For example, these systems use machine learning to streamline requests in approval processes: grouping requests, automating standard approvals, and flagging anomalies. An increasing number of selfservice interactions will shift over to conversational/chat interfaces and mobile, as employees become even less dependent on traditional work settings. They will also occur on desktop, voice and other emerging interfaces. 16
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Amel Gardner Regional vice president – Middle East, Africa & India, Epicor Software
THE DAWN OF CONNECTED ENTERPRISE
can manage it like they manage the cloud, and to get the same enterprise capabilities and control in the cloud, as they have on-premise -- both in a flexible, subscription-based as-a-Service model. In 2020, the demand for as-a-Service in storage will increase and organizations are speaking with their wallets with more investment in OPEX models, but successful models need to balance both the operations and purchasing aspects. From an operations perspective, key attributes include standardization (vs snowflakes),
Thanks to the advent of IoT and cloud technology in 2019, the buzzword “connected enterprise” has emerged as what is touted as the ultimate goal of any enterprise that seeks to apply the advantages of modern technology. As CIOs work with line of business (LOB) stakeholders to achieve the coveted status of a “connected enterprise” and implement various new technologies, they should not lose sight of what aspects of that technology actually matter to their business and can improve operations. The key is to define what is meaningful to the enterprise and not waste time on implementing technology that does not provide immediate value.
on-demand access, API-driven management, and limitless scale. On the consumption side, key traits include a pay for what you use model, bursting capabilities (flex up/down as needed), and a non-disruptive evergreen experience, services can be grown/evolved over time without disruption. And all this delivered as a 100% pay-per-month OPEX service.
Assaad El Saadi Regional director – Middle East, Pure Storage
Justin Dustzadeh CTO, Equinix
CUSTOMERS WILL DEMAND A SUBSCRIPTION TO INNOVATION
DATA REGULATION WILL INFLUENCE ENTERPRISE IT STRATEGIES
As-a-Service models have existed since the beginning of public cloud. For most consumers of storage, hybrid cloud is the reality and the future - and they are looking to get the best out of both worlds; to drive simplicity and automation from their on-premise infrastructure so they
Equinix believes we will see further complexity in protecting personal data as global trends toward stricter or new data privacy regulations continue to gain momentum, making it more difficult for global companies distributed across multiple markets to navigate. This prediction follows the recent global
FEATURE Mena Migally, Senior director, MENA at Riverbed
IOT AND 5G WILL PUSH APPLICATIONS TO THE EDGE
survey commissioned by Equinix, of over 2,450 IT decision-makers across the world, where 69% of respondents listed “complying with data protection regulations” as a top priority for their business.
There no doubt that 2019 was the year of cloud in the Middle East. The market’s momentum is only set to increase and we can expect distributed cloud to become the new data center that truly empowers the edge. As more organizations start incorporating IoT technologies, their applications will
to see blockchain go “mainstream” as it enables industries such as healthcare to create universal patient records, to improve chain-of-custody pharmaceutical processes, and more.
Osama Al-Zoubi, CTO for Cisco Middle East and Africa.
INTERNET OF THE FUTURE Rapid digital transformation is pushing existing internet infrastructure close to its breaking point. As such it is important that an internet of the future is developed. By 2023, there will be an estimated 49 billion devices connected to the internet and the next decade will see greater use of technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, 16K streaming and Artificial Intelligence (AI). The infrastructure of the internet needs to be made faster, more scalable, and simpler to manage and secure for it enable these new technologies. Cisco has announced its ‘Internet for the Future’ technology strategy which is based on investments in silicon, optics, and software.
need to run at the edge to ensure high performance and faster response. With IoT heading to the forefront – and soon to be enabled by the proliferation of 5G networks – organisations in 2020 are starting to think about how to address the new visibility challenges that will stem from the need of edge applications to communicate back to a centralised point.
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Milan Sheth Executive Vice President for India, Middle East and Africa East Region, Automation Anywhere
THE NEAR ELIMINATION OF PAPER FROM ALL LARGE AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES With the onset of cloud-native, webbased RPA platforms and rapidly maturing machine learning technologies that understand the written word and
Atish Gude Senior VP and chief strategy officer at NetApp
THE IMPACT OF BLOCKCHAIN WILL BE UNDENIABLE The world is quickly moving beyond Bitcoin to adopt enterprise-distributed indelible ledgers, setting the stage for a transformation that’s exponentially bigger than the impact that cryptocurrency has had on blockchain in finance. While the crypto frenzy continues to steal the limelight when it comes to blockchain, most players in the industry understand the bigger picture of the technology and its potential. Going into 2020, we will see a tipping point for
larger implementations as enterprises go a step further to adopt indelible ledgers based on Hyperledger, which represents the maturation of blockchain for wider use cases. Indeed, we will start
integrate resulting actions within an RPA platform, we’ll pass the tipping point towards ubiquitous adoption in the next year. By 2025, there will be easy-todeploy-and-teach AI models for a large majority of paper documents in the enterprise, so that human workers will never need to process an invoice again.
CHANGING THE GAME SAVOLA FOODS TRANSFORMS ITS FINANCE AND ACCOUNTING DEPARTMENT THROUGH ROBOTIC PROCESS AUTOMATION
audi-based Savola Foods operates in nine countries across the MENAT region and manages a broad portfolio of food brands. In line with Saudi Vision 2030, Savola Foods started its digital transformation push in 2018, and embraced RPA as the go-to technology for modernising its key business processes and transform service delivery. As part of its broader digital transformation agenda, the company identified finance operations as one of the business disciplines ripe for automation, as its finance team was spending too much time on mundane tasks of repetitive nature. This included financial reporting and consolidation, accounts receivable, and general accounting. “We were doing a lot of manual processes, for example, receiving trial balance from different geographies and in different currencies. This financial
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data accumulation process was done manually and was prone to human errors. Now, we have automated this process with bots, which helps us to significantly reduce the number of hours it takes to close the books and also reduce errors,” says Wajid Khan, CFO of Savola Foods. Savola Food is the first company in the country to roll out RPA technology from UiPath and is now reaping rich dividends from the implementation. “After considerable deliberation, we decided to implement RPA without even a proof of concept because the use case was very clear in my mind as to the kind of operational efficiencies it can bring. With RPA-led digital transformation, we have now managed to save more than 5000 working hours every year in our accounting operations and reporting,” adds Khan. As a forward-thinking CFO, who is enabling the growth of the business, Khan is in favour of digitising the
whole finance function. “In my opinion, the whole spectrum of the finance function should be managed by software bots, and human intervention needed only for data validation. The human mind is capable of great things and should be used to solve pressing business problems rather than be bogged down by tedious tasks. RPA, coupled with AI and ML, can save costs, improve efficiencies, and help financial professionals to focus on the highervalue tasks that drive more strategic business outcomes,” he says. Majid Adnan Jan, executive director of IT at Savola Foods, adds why his company has picked UiPath as the platform of choice for its successful RPA implementation: “After an extensive evaluation process, we zeroed in on UiPath because their platform is really scalable, and simple to use. It also helped us with rapid implementation, which was done in six months. Besides, their vision of having one million developers soon combined with an excellent online academy assured us that they are the perfect partner for our digital transformation journey.” Savola Foods is now embarking on phase two of its RPA project to extend the technology across other business functions, including sales, supply chain, and IT. “We started our project with bots and will ramp it up to 200 bots as part of this plan. To succeed with RPA, you need to select the right processes and build the skills within your team. We are positioning this as a technology platform that will free up our employees from monotonous tasks to focus more on strategic decision making, and this alleviates any fear around potential job losses,” says Jan.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM
CYBERSECURITY IN 2020 TOPLINE PREDICTIONS FROM INDUSTRY EXPERTS ON SOME OF THE HOT TOPICS LIKELY TO DOMINATE THE CYBERSECURITY LANDSCAPE THIS YEAR.
hen it comes to cybersecurity, it is very difficult to predict what the future holds as the threat landscape continues to change rapidly, with bad actors finding new ways to breach our defenses. We have gathered predictions from industry experts that they say will have an impact on the nature of cybersecurity this year. Ransomware became rampant in 2019, and experts believe the number of attacks will more than double this year with it becoming more targeted and dangerous. “Ransomware attacks are gaining widespread popularity because they can now be launched even against 22
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smaller players. Even a small amount of data can be used to hold an entire organisation, city, or even country for ransom,” says Adil Baghir, SE team lead at A10 Networks. He says we will see at least three new strains of ransomware types introduced: Modular or multi-leveled/layered ransomware and malware attacks will become the norm as this evasion technique becomes more prevalent. Modular attacks use multiple trojans and viruses to start the attack before the actual malware or ransomware is eventually downloaded and launched. “Ransomware made global headlines in 2019, with a myriad of organisations affected. Perhaps most worrying was
the number of healthcare providers and hospitals affected. It is easy to envisage a conceivable set-up where a cyberattack could impact patient care and safety. For illustration, a care provider who cannot access patient records due to a ransomware infection, or other forms of malware, may have no option but to cancel tests and medical procedures for all but the most critical patients, “ says Maher Jadallah, regional director – Middle East from Tenable. Nicolai Solling, CTO of Help AG, says the industry is getting better at combating ransomware attacks. “Compared to just three years ago, there has been a massive improvement – both from a technical as well as a
behavioural standpoint. Today, few organisations agree to ransom pay-outs while digital analytics and forensics have made it possible to track Bitcoin transactions, thereby overcoming the benefits of anonymity that cybercriminals enjoyed.” At the same time, cybercriminals are changing their techniques and demonstrating a preference for targeted attacks. Across the globe, we see attacks that are fine-tuned to exploit regional, linguistic, cultural, and even organisational nuances. Instead of the broader target set, cybercriminals are opting for a focused approach in order to make their malicious activities more difficult to detect, he adds. Alain Penel, regional vice president Middle East at Fortinet, says older vulnerabilities continue to remain attractive to cybercriminals, who are aware that users have a hard time patching systems in a timely manner. “While phishing still remains one of the top attack vectors, according to the Fortinet Threat Landscape report of Q3 of 2019, we saw some unexpected spikes in attacks targeting edge services with remote code execution attacks. Cybercriminals increasingly used banking Trojans to drop other payloads and additional banking malware on infected systems to maximise their opportunity for financial gain. Some of these tools are now making their way to the dark web as Malware-as-a-Service offerings,” he says. Cloud security also tops the list of
predictions for 2020 and is expected to become an important factor as businesses in the Middle East starting to adopt public cloud offerings. “Cloud computing, which has changed the IT space in the past decade, might become the next targeted landscape in 2020 and the next decade. With enterprises adopting cloud technology at a rapid pace, attackers are finding sophisticated strategies to infiltrate the cloud infrastructure. In simple terms, low-hanging fruit like on-premise networks are no longer the threat actor’s favorite target,” says Mathivanan Venkatachalam, vice president at ManageEngine. Starting with a simple phishing campaign to obtain cloud credentials and progressing to more advanced exploits that target software and network misconfigurations, attackers go the extra mile to compromise cloud security. And the vast majority of security incidents involving cloud infrastructure happen because of network misconfigurations, he says. Ammar Enaya, Vectra’s regional director in the Middle East, Turkey and North Africa, adds: “Security vulnerabilities plague cloud architectures and The SANS Institute says that one out of five businesses was hit by unauthorised access to their cloud environments in the past year. As more enterprises turn to the cloud for greater operational scale and cost efficiencies, it’s critical to address these security vulnerabilities,
Ammar Enaya so businesses can innovate, free from external threats.” It is a sentiment shared by Morey Haber, CTO & CISO, BeyondTrust, who says we will witness an uptick in cloudbased threat vectors and the need for stronger security baked into cloud offerings. “Cybercriminals will continue to invest strong focus and resources on leveraging cloud-based threat vectors since the environment is still fluid and evolving, which increases success in finding security gaps and targeting data at scale.” 5G and IoT Among the new crop of the technologies, the dawn of 5G is expected to significantly increase the threat landscape, according to many experts. “The advent of 5G may be the incubator for the development of functional swarm-based attacks because 5G-enabled edge networks will be enabled to create local, ad hoc networks that can quickly share and process information and applications. By weaponizing 5G and edge computing, individually exploited devices could become a conduit for malicious code, and groups of compromised devices could work in concert to target victims,” says Penel from Fortinet. Jadallah from Tenable says with 5G networks will come the dawn of 5G-only IoT and IIoT devices, which will not require a connection to the local network to operate. While this may reduce the
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risk of an IoT device being used as an attack vector against the rest of the network, it is likely to create difficulties for enterprises that already struggle to identify the equipment in their digital infrastructure. When elevators, HVAC, CCTVs, and smart speakers start connecting directly to the cloud via 5G, this is only going to get harder. Venkatachalam from ManageEngine agrees: “The imminent arrival of 5G will pave the way for many unknown security threats, forcing security experts to reevaluate their threat combat strategy. The 5G promise of turbo speeds with ultra-high bandwidth consumption and minimal latency will make mobile devices highly coveted targets of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. Without a perfect cyberdefense layout, DDoS outbreaks like 2016’s Mirai and DYN attacks, which infected over two million devices, are inevitable.” AI and ML to the rescue Artificial intelligence and machine learning have emerged as a ray of hope for embattled CISOs and these technologies are expected to play an integral part in the security strategies of organisations in the Middle East. “AI and ML will no doubt be trends to watch out for, with the caveat being that only ‘real AI’ will deliver the positive impact that organisations are hoping for. Unfortunately, the market is flooded with providers that tout their AI capabilities without providing any 24
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Mathivanan Venkatachalam concrete measure of the effectiveness of their AI and ML solutions. This is where testing, analysis and integration will all play a major role in vetting truly effective AI solutions and integrating them into a comprehensive security platform,” says Solling. Penel from Fortinet predicts that advanced AI and counter-threat intelligence will evolve, shifting the traditional advantage of the cybercriminal. “Defenders have a distinct advantage with access to the sorts of threat intelligence that cybercriminals generally do not, which can be augmented with machine learning and AI,” he says. The increasing use of AI and ML will also lead to automation of key security operations such as incident detection and response. “Automation of cyber security systems can make the difference in those crucial moments during an attack to help regain control and minimise any damage. We believe the future of cyber security for 5G and multi-cloud rests on intelligent automation with solutions that leverage machine learning to ensure that business-critical applications are protected, reliable, and always available,” says Baghir from A10 Networks. Which technologies are expected to impact the cybersecurity space in 2020? Ryan Trost, Co-founder and CTO, ThreatQuotient, says several newer technologies will continue to provide
additional defenses against well-crafted attacks including threat intelligence platforms, orchestration/automation, defense auditing, and deception technology. Threat intelligence platforms and orchestration/ automation are starting to become standard tools in a security team’s arsenal which equates to teams are implementing them correctly and maximising their value. Both technologies work to augment alert triage and provide as much initial information as possible to allow analysts or workflows to make better more informed investigation, he says. With cyber-miscreants always staying one step ahead of those trying to catch them, cybersecurity has become a business problem in many organisations, and many line of business leaders are actively involved in security decisions that affect them. Faced with ever-evolving advanced threats, now CISOs have no choice but to rethink some of the traditional approaches to security in their organisations. “The more CISOs and other IT staff understand the security implications of evolving technologies, the better prepared they are to make the right investments for their business. It’s the difference between being proactive versus reactive, and having a security approach that enables new technologies and business opportunities, versus one that clamps down on them,” sums up Haber from BeyondTrust.
THE AGE OF EXPERIENCE
TONY BATES, CEO OF GENESYS, TALKS ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF PERSONALISATION IN CUSTOMER SERVICE AND HOW HIS COMPANY IS HELPING ITS CUSTOMERS LEAD IN THE EXPERIENCE ECONOMY.
ou have joined Genesys very recently. What is your vision for the company? Let me tell you why I joined Genesys. So, three high-level reasons that attracted me to the company. Number one is, you know, the role we play is very important and, and it is a pivotal role in many companies. It’s the front line of the customer service arm. Genesys has a great history of technology. We are the inventors of traditional CTI, voice routing, and IVR.
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It is built off of a lot of experience from very, very large enterprises all the way down to small-medium businesses. Number two is the global nature of the business. We’re not just a UScentric business; we’re truly global. And the third thing and most important is the level of technology that we have that’s forward-looking. When I did my diligence before joining Genesys, I just felt, wow, we have a great customer base of 11,000 customers around the world. If you think about that, given the types of companies and brands that we
work with, we probably, in some shape or form, touch three and a half or four billion downstream consumers. But the vision I have for the company isn’t just about contact centres or even customer experience. It is really about how do we give every customer a truly personal experience. No matter what channel, whether it’s voice, digital, social, or web, how do we make them feel the way they want to feel? I think about the future of Genesys in terms of the personalisation of service. If you think about the industry
today, through mobile technology and app proliferation, we have started to personalise our lives. We personalise how we pitch in content, personalise even how we exercise. And yet often, when we go to a business for support or to buy something, it feels the opposite. So, the vision really is to become the leader in that dialogue. I think we’re at the real beginning of it, and the reason is because the cloud and the use of artificial intelligence are making it a reality. Genesys, to their credit, started to invest early in machine learning to help you understand how to engage better with your customers. Historically, the contact centre industry has been slow to adopt new technologies. Are they now warming up to AI and cloud? They are, and everyone’s talking about it now. I think they’re talking about it in two contexts. One is digital transformation in their businesses in general. They have got a lot of different applications and legacy systems that they have had to put a lot of effort in. They know if they have to transform their business, they need to bring these systems together. Now with technologies such as Kubernetes, containers, and great public cloud offerings, you have the ability to orchestrate these services more seamlessly. And that I think it was one of the reasons it was inherently slow before. When I meet CEOs of companies, they know that the only way they are going to differentiate going forward is through the experiences they deliver. Do you think AI and bots in contact centres will replace agents? I look at it a little differently. People tend to think it’s like replacing one thing with another. I actually think it’s an augment to what we already do. The way I think about the future is really beyond even this notion of omnichannel. AI and ML are a small part of it. What is important is how you use it effectively based on the context of your interaction. So, I don’t think of it as one replaces the other. Think about it almost as a coach. I think eventually, in all kinds of industries, we’ll
WE PERSONALISE HOW WE PITCH IN CONTENT, PERSONALISE EVEN HOW WE EXERCISE. AND YET OFTEN, WHEN WE GO TO A BUSINESS FOR SUPPORT OR TO BUY SOMETHING, IT FEELS THE OPPOSITE. SO, THE VISION REALLY IS TO BECOME THE LEADER IN THAT DIALOGUE. have a virtual coach — some form of assistant that can help us with certain tasks. But I don’t think that it takes away the need to have the full spectrum of offerings, including the human element.
You talked about omnichannel. Do you think you can do omnichannel with onprem infrastructure, or do you have to move to the cloud for that? You can, for sure, do it both ways. But, there are definite benefits to be had by moving to the cloud. The Genesys’ strategy is pretty simple - accelerate the movement to the cloud, but at the same time, deliver back to the premise cloud-like services from our cloud. So, we’ll give our customers both options, but what the cloud gives you is the power of the collective. You get to train your AI quicker because you’ve got all the data in one place and also be able to absorb new features quicker. At Genesys, we have a long and strong history on-prem. We want to get people to the cloud, but we want to help them on the journey to get there. So, if you’re a large enterprise with a lot of integrations, you can’t just flip a switch overnight. Part of the value proposition of Genesys is also to walk people down that path when they can and work very closely with them. Can you tell us a bit more about the cloud information model (CIM) that you’re talking about? It’s very simple. So, to realise this vision of true personalisation, as much as I think we’re a very important part of that, the reality is that there’s a lot of information that’s in different silos. If you just sort of look at it at an industry level, there are three big stacks. The marketing stack, the sales stack, and then there’s the service stack. And we play very heavily in the service stack. Many companies find that disconnected data, some of it trapped in legacy systems, is impacting their ability to engage and meet the needs of their customers. We need a schema, an interchange, a way to connect all these data together in a secure way so that we can take advantage of that. That’s the idea behind CIM, and it is an open-source initiative, which provides common standards and source code to make it easier for companies to connect data across multiple platforms and disparate systems.
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FOUR NEW DEMANDS ON AI-
ENABLED ERP SYSTEMS AS ORGANISATIONS BEGIN TO EXPLORE APPLICATIONS FOR AI, I IS IMPORTANT THAT THEIR ERP SOLUTION LOSE THEIR CUMBERSOME HERITAGE AND OPEN UP TO THIRDPARTY APPLICATIONS IN ORDER TO HELP BUSINESSES BENEFIT FROM TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATIONS MORE QUICKLY, WRITES AMEL GARDNER, REGIONAL VICE PRESIDENT, MIDDLE EAST, AFRICA & INDIA (MEAI), EPICOR SOFTWARE,
rtificial intelligence (AI) will have a significant impact on companies and their business models over the next five years — 85 percent of CEOs surveyed in PwC’s 22nd Annual Global CEO Survey are convinced of this. But with only 33 percent having dipped their toe into AI for ‘limited uses’, and fewer than one in ten using it on a wide scale, the range of applications has been limited so far. However, this is soon set to change. Despite the use of AI being a distant dream for many businesses, the current maturity of intelligent technologies and the expectations of enterprise resource planning 28
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(ERP) systems in particular — to support innovations — have fundamentally changed business demands. ERP systems need to lose their cumbersome heritage and open up to third-party applications, in order to help businesses benefit from technological innovations more quickly. This is a demand that ERP providers and user companies must meet in equal measure, as set out in the following four expectations for AIenabled ERP. Flexible process for the introduction of intelligent technologies Intelligent ERP is not based on a specific technology, but on the
ability of an ERP system to access a variety of technologies for intelligent functions. In most companies, this starts with automating repetitive routine processes in the background. In time, other functionalities are added — such as machine learning and deep learning for error detection in production, predictive analytics for demand planning and forecasts, natural language processing for voicecontrolled systems in production or in the warehouse, and learning algorithms for autonomous systems. This approach ensures the costeffectiveness of innovations and simplifies their acceptance in everyday work. On the role of intelligent ERP, IDC
suggesting that 44 percent of respondents from the automotive and manufacturing sectors consider AI as ‘highly important‘ to the manufacturing function in the next five years, and almost half (49 percent) stating it as ‘absolutely critical to success‘, domain expertise will be crucial to realising this expectation. Even though access to intelligent technologies via web services makes it easier for companies to take advantage, they are not necessarily an out-of-the-box solution for industrial use. It is important to work with a supplier that understands industry
research manager, Alexandros Stratis, states, “An assistive user interface is key in enabling today‘s knowledge workers to become the digital knowledge workers of tomorrow, and though true conversational interfaces are a future goal, the quality of the interaction will improve over time, enabling flatter organisations, a fluid work environment, and goal-oriented and redefined back-office processes.” ERP systems must therefore be able to integrate with innovative applications, and grow according to a company’s requirements. Innovations as scalable web services Intelligent systems require a significant amount of data to identify trends, patterns, and correlations, as well as the ability to learn and draw conclusions. The IT systems required for this only make economic sense as cloud or web services. This has two positive consequences — access to intelligent technologies is open to companies of all sizes, and adoption is no longer a question of IT budget. Technologically, however, it requires modernisation of an ERP system that is based on a corresponding industry platform in the software architecture, such as Microsoft .NET, in order to access Azure’s resources seamlessly. Having an ERP platform, which communicates with — in this case — Microsoft Azure makes it
INTELLIGENT ERP IS NOT BASED ON A SPECIFIC TECHNOLOGY, BUT ON THE ABILITY OF AN ERP SYSTEM TO ACCESS A VARIETY OF TECHNOLOGIES FOR INTELLIGENT FUNCTIONS. comparatively easy to connect a company’s own processes with intelligent cloud services and AI resources, such as Intelligent Edge and Cognitive services. This can provide Internet of Things (IoT) ‘Plug and Play’ capabilities — to connect IoT devices seamlessly to the cloud — or AI functionality, such as machine learning for decision support or Language Understanding Intelligent Service (LUIS). This is even possible if taking a hybrid cloud approach for on-premises ERP installations, or as part of a pure cloud ERP environment. Domain expertise for faster deployment of intelligent systems With a Forbes Insights survey
specifics, as well as the semantics of ERP data. The domain expertise of an ERP provider for certain industry requirements or functional areas is decisive for intelligent systems to reliably and quickly achieve the required optimisation in processes. Significant gains in operating efficiencies The current volatile economic climate means that managers are currently concentrating on their own optimisation. According to PwC’s 22nd Annual CEO Survey, 77 percent of CEOs across the globe are committed to driving revenue growth through internal measures to improve operational efficiency. Organic growth is paramount, with new markets or strategic alliances currently playing a subordinate role. With companies setting high standards when it comes to established IT systems in terms of efficiency, the expectations and innovative advantages that ERP modernisation must deliver are also great. When planning to upgrade an existing ERP system, fundamental modernisation is often considered as preparation for a higher level of automation through intelligent technologies. The future of intelligent technologies ERP has traditionally been responsible for organising information, generating reports, and visualising critical real-time data via dashboards. However, today’s businesses want intelligent technologies to be able to recognise trends and patterns, make recommendations for action, take into account different interrelationships, and automate complex processes. The degrees of freedom of modern ERP platforms — that are available as on-premise and cloud models — will help meet this demand. ERP provides current system requirements to achieve associated process improvements, at the same time as giving the prerequisites required to take steps towards the use of intelligent technologies.
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LEADING THE WAY TO A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE WOLFGANG EGGER, THE NEWLY APPOINTED VP AND MD OF HPE MIDDLE EAST, TALKS ABOUT HOW HIS COMPANY IS DRIVING INNOVATION AND SUSTAINABILITY.
ou have been on the job as HPE’s regional leader for six months now. How are you faring at this new job? I’ve been with HPE for 23 years now, and I started as an engineer in our company. The beauty of this role for me is two things. One is obviously the region. For us, the Middle East, specifically, the UAE are high growth areas. So, the dynamics that I see here in the region is very positive. And the second thing is personal because I relocated here with my family.
What is your take on digital transformation, which has become a buzzword today? For me, digital transformation is about people, and always, it is one of the things neglected. We see big projects failing because we did not care about the people aspect of things. That’s number one. The second is technology. But, when it comes to technology, the industry has come a long way, and I think we know how to manage it. And the third one, also always neglected, is the economics of digital transformation.
Can you share your vision for the company? My vision for the Middle East as HPE is to evolve how people work and live here. We want to make a positive impact on both professional and personal lives. We want to take this region to the next level, develop next-generation leaders, and also take care of the environment. Let me circle back to my private life - being a father, I think we have the responsibility to make sure that the Earth is ready to take the next generation also. We are making a positive impact on sustainability, and we are diving what we call the circular economy. It starts with many angles, and I am pitching that to the governments in the region. It is about how we design products, source goods, and how we deploy our solutions. And it is not about recycling; what we are doing here is driving the sustainable reuse of our solutions and being environmentally responsible.
IT STARTS WITH MANY ANGLES, AND I AM PITCHING THAT TO THE GOVERNMENTS IN THE REGION. IT IS ABOUT HOW WE DESIGN PRODUCTS, SOURCE GOODS, AND HOW WE DEPLOY OUR SOLUTIONS. AND IT IS NOT ABOUT RECYCLING; WHAT WE ARE DOING HERE IS DRIVING THE SUSTAINABLE REUSE OF OUR SOLUTIONS AND BEING ENVIRONMENTALLY RESPONSIBLE.
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Innovation for the sake of it is the wrong thing. It takes all three to be successful, and that, for me, is the key to digital transformation. How are you helping your clients to go through that whole digital transformation journey? There are two things we are helping them with. First, if a client already has a clear vision as to what it means for them. For example, governments that want to improve the experience for citizens through e-governance. In that case, we simply help them to implement those processes and technology and transform governments into this new area. A case in point is what we are doing with Abu Dhabi Digital Authority. We have recently signed an addendum to a memorandum of understanding that we already signed one year ago. We have forged a close relationship with Abu Dhabi Digital Authority to prepare them for their future transformation, and we are designing their data federation model. The second thing is what we are doing for companies, enterprises, and governments, who don’t know what it means for them. We have made a significant investment here in the UAE, and it is called the Digital Life Garage. This is the first one of a global initiative and the idea is to explore what disruption means in the industry. What we are doing there are three things. One is, we are showcasing our solutions and technology with our alliance partners. Second, it will be a
place on the next level to educate local leaders on the latest technologies and connect them to our labs in the US. The third one and that’s the most important one, we have put in place a methodology to help business leaders to understand what does it mean to disrupt their business. For instance, we are inviting leaders from various industries such as tourism, utilities, and oil and gas to our Digital Life Garage and doing a workshop with them to disrupt those industries. And it’s not only focused on Dubai. I want to be very clear about this one - this is a Middle East facility. Where do you fit in in the whole cloud puzzle? From the very beginning, we have maintained that it will not be 100% cloud in the future or on-premises. We have always said that we are a hybrid cloud company. So, I pitch HP above the cloud. What does it mean? With the solution stack that we have, it doesn’t matter what our clients are using - public cloud vendors such as AWS, Google, or on-premises. We have a layer above it so that it is very easy for you to migrate the applications from your on-premises to the cloud and back. Because at the end of the day, you know, the cloud is not crucial for everything. There are, of course, applications that are much better in the cloud than traditional environments, and some of the applications run much better on-premises than in the cloud. What is important is that applications can travel between both. Are you planning to offer all your products as a service? Is GreenLake part of that strategy? What we are going to do by 2022 is that you will get everything from us as a service. We have 70% of our portfolio you can get as a service already. There are two important things to understand as to why we do GreenLake. The one thing is the economics of GreenLake. Around 60% of the IT assets onpremises is underutilised. The clients
pay too much upfront. We changed the economics with that, so you pay only for what you need. The second thing is sustainability again because 60 percent of those underutilised assets consume power and cooling. This is a waste of energy GreenLake is helping to address by reducing the carbon footprint of our customers. What is your AI strategy? Are you going to embed AI in almost all the major product platforms? We already have it, and let me give two, three examples. We have a software called InfoSight, which we embed into our servers and storage, and it analyses what is happening inside the system. It even takes proactive action without talking to the customer, and we can solve 95% of the issues upfront with AI
built in the system. We went one step further, and I’m very proud to say that, in our new storage platform, Primera, we pushed the technology of AI so far that we are happy to guarantee 100% availability of the storage platform. AI is going to be part of our strategy going forward in every product. We are helping our customers to gain competitive advantage out of AI and there are use cases we are driving, especially in the public sector in terms of smart cities and public safety. We have demonstrated these AI platforms at Gitex last year. As you might know, we have acquired supercomputing company Cray, and with this acquisition, I think we are breaking far ahead of the competition. Because I believe every issue we face today, in the business, or also in private life, is a data-driven issue.
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GETTING READY FOR THE DATA DECADE BY LOOKING BACK AT 2019, WE CAN MAKE THE MOST OUT OF THE NEXT DATA DECADE IN 2020, SAYS MOHAMMED AMIN, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, MERAT, DELL TECHNOLOGIES
t’s hard to believe that we’ve started the year 2020 and that a very interesting decade has come to an end. With every end comes a new beginning and we view 2020 as the start of a more intelligent and connected world enabled by technology. In the interest of learning from looking back, I revisited our 2019 predictions, some of which I am happy to report have come to fruition faster than others. The implementation of 5G across the region is one such example. Many telecommunication providers in the region are already offering 5G connectivity to their customers, transforming experiences significantly. And who knows, we could also start hearing about 6G networks! On the back of this, cities in the region are becoming more connected than ever, paving the way for Smart
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Cities and digital infrastructure that we predict will be thriving come 2030. And it will be a game-changer for industries such as healthcare and manufacturing, where data and information generated from the field can be quickly processed and analysed in real-time, and then readily shared with those who need it. All of this requires skilled talent and as we predicted, 2019 has seen a new generation of digital natives enter the workplace and organisations have begun to step up to modernise infrastructure, inspire employees and integrate the relevant applications will have an advantage over those that struggle with legacy systems, data deluge and workforces that are resistant to change. Another prediction was about the data gold mine and the ‘Gold Rush’ in tech investment, with data valued as a primary resource. In 2019, we saw the
importance placed on data, leading to regulations are now being set to protect this valuable resource. Organisations are now addressing challenges of data management and analytics and leveraging their data to bring AI and machine-learning to life. The region as we know it, is poised for the fourth industrial revolution. In fact, if you consider the UAE Vision 2021, Saudi Vision 2030 and Kuwait Vision 2035, the common theme is around developing digital economies of the future. At the root of all this innovation and advancement are – you guessed it – massive amounts of data and compute power, and the capacity across edge, cloud and core data center infrastructure to put data through its paces. With the amount of data coming our way in the next 10 years – we can only imagine what the world around us will look like in 2030, with apps and services helping us do and know things we haven’t even thought of yet! 2020 marks the beginning of what we at Dell Technologies are calling the Next Data Decade, and we are no doubt entering this era with new – and rather high – expectations of what technology can make possible for how we live, work, and play. So, what new breakthroughs and technology trends will set the tone for what’s to come? Here are our top predictions for the year ahead. 2020 will be the year to simplify IT This year we will see organisations
accelerate their digital transformation by simplifying and automating their IT infrastructure and consolidating systems and services into holistic solutions that enable more control and fuel data automation. All of this enables better, faster business outcomes that the innovation of the next decade will thrive on. Accelerated multi-cloud journeys to store and protect data As 5G and edge deployments continue to rollout, organisations will expect more of their cloud and service providers, to ensure they have better data management and visibility, while also ensuring that their data remains accessible and secure. IDC has predicted that by 2021, over 90% of enterprises worldwide will rely on a mix of on-premises/dedicated private clouds, several public clouds, and legacy platforms to meet their infrastructure needs. Choose how you pay In 2020, flexible consumption model and as-a-service options will accelerate rapidly as organisations seize the opportunity to transform. As a result, they’ll be able to choose the right economic model for their business to take advantage of end-to-end IT solutions that enable data mobility and
AS WE ENTER 2020, I’M OPTIMISTIC AND EXCITED ABOUT WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS. THE STEPS OUR CUSTOMERS WILL TAKE IN THE NEXT YEAR TO GET THE MOST OUT OF THEIR DATA WILL ENABLE NEW BREAKTHROUGHS IN TECHNOLOGY THAT EVERYONE WILL EXPERIENCE IN SOME WAY – WHETHER IT’S A MORE POWERFUL DEVICE, FASTER MEDICAL TREATMENT, MORE ACCESSIBLE EDUCATION, LESS WASTE AND CLEANER AIR. visibility and crunch even the most intensive AI and Machine Learning workloads when needed. ‘The Edge’ rapidly expands to the enterprise 2019 has showed us that the edge is everywhere around us and is only going to expand with enterprise organisations leading the way, delivering the IT infrastructure to support it. So, we will see new advancements in softwaredefined networking. Open networking solutions will also prevail over proprietary, as organisations recognise that the only way to successfully manage and secure data for the long haul is with the flexibility and agility that only open software defined networking can deliver. Intelligent devices change the way we work and collaborate A recent study by Gartner revealed that spending on disruptive technologies will increase. Artificial intelligence (AI) was seen as the primary gamechanging technology in 2019 by 38
percent of GCC CIOs. Data analytics is second, identified by 22 percent of respondents. Software applications that use AI and machine learning create systems that now know where and when to optimise power and compute based on your usage patterns. Over the next year, these advancements, will turn our PCs into even smarter companions. They’ll have the ability to optimise power and battery life for our most productive moments – and even become self-sufficient machines that can self-heal and self-advocate for repair – reducing the burden on the user and of course, reducing the number of IT incidents filed. Innovating with integrity, sourcing sustainably In 2018, members of the UAE’s Federal National Council passed a draft federal law on integrated waste management. The law puts forward a variety of strategies that aim to achieve a national recycling rate of 75% of solid waste. Such laws prove that sustainable innovation will continue to take center stage, and Dell Technologies wants to ensure the impact we have in the world doesn’t come with a dangerous impact on the planet. Greater investments in reuse and recycling for closed-loop innovation will accelerate – hardware becoming smaller and more efficient and built with recycled and reclaimed goods. To conclude: As we enter 2020, I’m optimistic and excited about what the future holds. The steps our customers will take in the next year to get the most out of their data will enable new breakthroughs in technology that everyone will experience in some way – whether it’s a more powerful device, faster medical treatment, more accessible education, less waste and cleaner air. And before we know it, we’ll be looking forward to what the following decade will have in store.
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DELIVERING BUSINESS VALUE MURALI KONASANI, CEO OF TEKSALAH, TALKS ABOUT HOW INTEGRITY AND TRUST ARE HELPING HIS BUSINESS TO RETAIN CUSTOMERS, AND SUCCEED IN A HIGHLY COMPETITIVE SYSTEMS INTEGRATION MARKET.
hat is Teksalah’s value proposition? We position ourselves as transformation experts. Today in the market, many people associate digital transformation with IT transformation, and we believe the main objective should be business transformation. We are a completely UAE-focused business with offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and we have our back-office and software development team based in India. Our business is structured around for key offerings – cybersecurity, cloud, digital infrastructure, and managed services. Our approach in all engagements is deeply rooted in the values we have adopted, and this is reflected in our clientele. We strive to become the longterm partner of the people we engage with, be it customers or vendors. We have a 500 plus customer base, and in 13 years since our inception, we have delivered close to around 1300 successful projects excluding transactions with a 99 percent satisfaction ratio. We are proud that 90 percent are repeat customers, and most of them have been with us for more a decade. We have customers ranging from large enterprises to government and mid-market, and we deliver projects
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with the core principles of simplicity, innovation, expertise, and independence. Anything that we do, we make sure that the scope is derived in a simple way so that there is no room for confusion when it comes to delivery. Though we have specialisations from some of the biggest tech brands, we never sell products; we pitch solutions. The customers have either a business need or they are trying to solve a challenge. The solutions we sell to address that may come from our portfolio, but we are product-agnostic.
we position our solutions in line with their digital transformation journey.
Do you offer the whole spectrum in terms of managed services? Our managed services offering is based on our portfolio – cybersecurity, and data centre infrastructure. We have more than 50 managed services customers, including some banks, and we manage the critical application delivery for them.
How do you tackle the various market segments that you address? The way we work is simple. For instance, take enterprise data management, and it is more suited towards large enterprises. Our shared cybersecurity offering is more geared towards the mid-market because they can’t afford their own SOCs. It doesn’t mean that they don’t need control mechanisms, and we help them to fill their security gaps.
Do you offer SOC as a service? Yes, that is our immediate next plan. We already have a full-fledged shared SOC running in a beta mode with a few customers, and we are going to offer it to the mid-market. Most SIs are now transitioning to a solution provider business model. Is that your strategy as well? It’s been part of our DNA right from the start, and we deliver solutions than mere integration. What is your expertise in digital transformation? It means different things to different customers. An enterprise-scale company might be advanced in the maturity model, and they would talk about end-to-end transformation. But, it differs for the mid-market customers. We try to understand their aspirations and what do they want to achieve, and
Do you see a demand for the cloud here? Yes, the opportunity is enormous. Earlier, the cloud didn’t take off in the region due to concerns around security, etc. But, things are changing now with companies such as Microsoft setting up their global cloud data centre here, and customers are ready to offload their applications to the cloud partially.
Do you have it tailor-made for mid-market? Whether it is a small company or large enterprise, security threats are the same. Large companies may have more controls and resources, but the risks are the same for the mid-market customers as well. We equip them with enterprise-grade technology. We also have a mid-market ERP system called eVitalyst, which was completely developed in-house. We are primarily targeting construction and engineering, manufacturing and trading industries with this. It is available for deployment in both on-prem and cloud models. What are your 2020 plans? We are opening up in Nigeria by the end of this month. We plan to become active in African and Indian markets by the end of 2020.
A tribute to the visionaries and pioneers of IT in the Middle East
25.02.2020 CONRAD DUBAI
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WHAT DOES 2020 HAVE IN STORE FOR SOFTWARE INDUSTRY? CHRIS POPE, VP INNOVATION AT SERVICENOW, ON THE TENDS THAT WILL SHAPE THE SOFTWARE INDUSTRY THIS YEAR.
here is no industry that better epitomises the age-old adage of “The only constant is change”, than the software sector. Driven by continuous improvement in existing solutions and new methods for testing and developing software, vendors across the industry are forever aiming to raise the bar. Good software vendors are very transparent about their immediate future roadmaps, as they look to enhance existing offerings 36
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with more power and functionality. This helps customers plan their upgrade paths and predict their own commercial development roadmaps. So what can we expect from technology and software in 2020? Opening up a new DIY toolbox In terms of key trends and game changers, let’s consider the fact that we’ve been able to encapsulate a good deal of the internal mechanics of software engineering and present
them in the form of low-code/no-code tools. These technologies allow us to condense the guts of coding into an abstracted upper layer. Users can dragand-drop or use natural human language commands to create varying degrees of functionality. This revelation in coding allows nontechnical, or at least less technical, users to bring software functions together and create business applications without taking a degree course in software engineering.
metrics too. When we look at the union of developers and operations inside DevOps, our focus over the last decade has been mostly dedicated to increasing development and deployment velocity. Forrester however predicts that business value will now overtake velocity as a favoured DevOps metric. So value today doesn’t just mean money and financial terms of trade anymore. It means value in terms of how fast a business can change and adapt. It also means how much value you have delivered to your customer. Some measures of ‘new value’ will be quantitative measures that we can track quite accurately, but others will be qualitative and much harder to track based on a measure of sentiment and human feeling.
The rise of low-code/no-code is significant for a number of reasons. First, the planet doesn’t have enough developers to keep pace with the demand for enterprise software, so giving business professionals the ability to create applications even of the most basic form is fundamentally important. Second, this development means we can free up our software engineers to work on new and emerging innovations in areas like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and, perhaps soon, quantum computing that offers the potential to process exponentially more data compared to classical computers. Looking forward into 2020 and beyond, we will see that low-code/nocode has lowered the barrier to entry for creating applications. The challenge now is getting users to physically put their hands on a keyboard and start touching these tools. It’s like DIY, once you pick up a toolbox and get your hands dirty, you realise how much you can achieve. The new value in value Things are changing in business value
AI drives human touch While we’re on human emotive experiences, let’s consider the fact that, slightly paradoxically, the rise of AI will allow us to be more human. As we apply AI-based efficiencies to an increasing number of workplace tasks, we are able to take a hands-off approach to many of the repeatable and definable tasks that AI is so good at shoulder We will witness a positive development in the number of ‘human touch’ jobs and roles. Technology analysts suggest that masseurs — sports, therapeutic or the more exotic kind — will be the last people to ever see their jobs changing due to AI robots. But other human touch roles will also flourish. Jobs that need human empathy, intuition and randomness of thought will be able to grow and develop. What all this means is that we will be able to apply more of our own individual humanistic approach to the way we carry out work. Work itself will become more experiential and less like a collection of tasks that need to be checked off. This will allow us more time to do a better job for any given task. If we’re baking a cake, it will be richer, more lustrous, and with extra toppings.
20:20 software in 2020 Conveniently for those who wish to jump on the marketing tagline opportunity, 2020 will be the year of 20:20 software. This term describes software applications and services that have a clear vision for which data sources they need to be connected to ensure that timely information gets to the right place for business decisions to be made. The rise of 20:20 software gives us the chance to get a new and much more accurate view of what resources we need in line with own personal work tasks. This allows us to focus on the things that really add value to the business. There is a natural hierarchy here as task alignment for individuals becomes connected intelligence for teams, then departments and then entire businesses. What used to be top-down management now becomes a user-first bottom-up growth cycle where creativity is championed from the start. So will we still be talking about digital transformation in 2020? Yes, of course we will. But 2020 will really be the year that the rubber hits the road. Now that so many businesses have made significant moves to cloud platforms and services, we can start to learn more from best practices and, crucially, shared practices to make work and life better for everyone.
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THE PLANET OF APPS ACCELERATING APP DEVELOPMENT HAS BECOME A KEY BUSINESS DIFFERENTIATOR, WRITES JEAN-PIERRE BRULARD, SVP & GM, VMWARE EMEA
f you thought that there was already an abundance of apps available to you â€“ both in your professional and personal life, the future might seem daunting. History will show we are in the middle of an application explosion, with ~335 million apps available today, by 2024 that number will have more than doubled â€“ set to reach a staggering three quarters of a billion. From the FitBit that tracks your 38
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morning run, the coffee you order and collect on your way to the office, or the review you give of performance data from across the department or organisation on your handheld device. Our digital technology and daily lives have morphed into one digital life - helped, managed, informed and maximised through applications. For businesses this can create both opportunities and challenges. Are organsiations truly prepared for this
app-driven world? And if not, why not? In the increasingly multi-cloud world in which they operate, how do enterprises develop, manage and run applications that excite and engage their customers and employees? Everyone needs to be prepared Businesses are now being defined by how fast they can deliver applications that differentiate their business and enhance the user experience. When
you consider that by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator and that 85% of the relationship between a customer and the enterprise will be non-human, the stakes have never been higher. Barclaycard in the UK has launched Grab+Go – a feature that turns customers’ smartphones into wallets and allows them to scan items into the app while they shop and then pay for them through mobile checkout, meanwhile Audi has created a VR experience that allows customers to configure their own car, offering a dynamic and interactive buying experience, by transferring the process from a digital tablet to something much more immersive. Then there’s the work we are doing with the French postal service, La Poste, which has transformed the organisation entirely thanks to the app explosion. By equipping postal workers with up to 20 apps on their mobile devices, the company has found a way offer to new and innovative services, such as banking, insurance and even checking on elderly relatives, at customers’ doorsteps. Why it’s important These are all examples of how apps are being used to deliver better experiences. To do that can be incredibly complex, yet it shouldn’t be. The explosion of information crossing multiple clouds to and from an infinite number of devices and sensors has brought complexity, security and scalability issues. With speed vital, taking five or six months to develop an app is no longer acceptable. Enterprises are reliant on software that can be developed and used as fast as possible, adapting to changing marketplace requirements, and running on infrastructure that can deal with these rapid changes, can scale and can handle new types of workloads. They also need to consider the security headache that can arise – a recent VMware/Forbes study
highlighted that 76% of both business leaders and IT security practitioners believe their organisation is working with outdated the security solutions. Simplicity lays the foundation for success To accelerate app development, we need to simplify operations. We believe
THE EXPLOSION OF INFORMATION CROSSING MULTIPLE CLOUDS TO AND FROM AN INFINITE NUMBER OF DEVICES AND SENSORS HAS BROUGHT COMPLEXITY, SECURITY AND SCALABILITY ISSUES. WITH SPEED VITAL, TAKING FIVE OR SIX MONTHS TO DEVELOP AN APP IS NO LONGER ACCEPTABLE.
the answer lies in software. Creating one, ubiquitous digital foundation that enables businesses to modernise their existing apps and create new ones, and run, manage, connect and intrinsically protect them, across any cloud, at speed. The benefits for businesses of getting apps into the hands of their intended users faster than ever before are numerous; from growth in customer base, ROI and lead conversion, to improved customer satisfaction and loyalty, as well as better talent recruitment and retention. Forrester reports that the revenue growth of customer experience leaders is 5.1 times that of laggards. It worked for La Poste. By deploying a digital workspace, it could simplify the delivery and management of its apps, and gave employees easy and secure access, regardless of their IT literacy. They have become digitally enabled, delivering a diversified set of services to ensure La Poste remains valuable, commercially viable and relevant to millions of people across France. Where next? Whether you’re in banking, logistics, automotive, retail or any other sector, the modern app has become the definition of success. Your focus might be on engaging customers; it might be on enabling employees – whatever it is, the apps you deliver will determine the experience your users enjoy. In my next post I’ll be looking in greater detail at what organisations need to do to get it right. I’ll also touch on how some of the announcements we made at VMworld Europe, like Project Pacific, are enabling customers to build modern apps on Kubernetes, as well as revolutionising how they ensure complete protection. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the impact the app explosion has had on your business, as well as what challenges and opportunities you see emerging.
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AI IN CYBERSECURITY DR SOHROB KAZEROUNIAN, AI RESEARCH LEAD AT VECTRA, ON WHY HUMANS REMAIN CENTRAL TO GOOD SECURITY OPERATIONS
he frenetic pace at which artificial intelligence (AI) has advanced in the past few years has begun to have transformative effects across a wide variety of fields. Coupled with an increasingly (inter)-connected world in which cyberattacks occur with alarming frequency and scale, it is no wonder that the field of cybersecurity has turned its eye to AI and machine learning (ML) in order to detect and defend against adversaries. The use of AI in cybersecurity not only expands the scope of what a single security expert is able to monitor, but importantly, it 40
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also enables the discovery of attacks that would have otherwise been undetectable by a human. So, is it time to hand over security operations responsibility to the machines? In February 2014, Martin Wolf wrote a piece for the London Financial Times titled Enslave the robots and free the poor. He began with the following quote: “In 1955, Walter Reuther, head of the US car workers’ union, told of a visit to a new automatically operated Ford plant. Pointing to all the robots, his host asked: How are you going to collect union dues from those guys?
Reuther replied: And how are you going to get them to buy Fords?” The fundamental tension Wolf points out between labour and automation has always existed. It not only makes up a large portion of academic literature on political economy (think Karl Marx and Adam Smith), but also ignites many of the worlds labour struggles. The Luddites for example, were a movement of textile workers and weavers who opposed the mechanisation of factories – not, as they are famously depicted, because they were opposed to machines in principle, but because it led to the exploitation of workers who were not
THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE CALCULATOR DID NOT REDUCE THE NEED FOR PEOPLE TO UNDERSTAND MATHEMATICS BUT INSTEAD GREATLY EXPANDED THE SCOPE AND POSSIBILITIES OF WHAT COULD BE COMPUTED – AND CONSEQUENTLY THE NEED FOR PEOPLE WITH MATHEMATICAL UNDERSTANDING TO EXPLORE THOSE POSSIBILITIES. SIMILARLY, AI IS JUST A TOOL THAT EXPANDS THE SCOPE AND POSSIBILITIES OF DETECTING ATTACKS THAT WOULD OTHERWISE HAVE BEEN UNDETECTABLE. allowed to share in the profits made from the increased productivity that resulted from the automation. Our current era of technological expansion has given birth to a variety of new tensions resulting from AI and machine learning. Nevertheless, the most pressing question remains: How should we organise our economy, and, more broadly, society, in a world where large swathes of human labour are beginning to be automated away? Put more simply, How will people live if they can’t get jobs because they were replaced by cost-effective, betterperforming machines? In just the last few years, numerous studies have been published, and institutes inaugurated, that are dedicated to studying which jobs of the future will remain in the hands of humans, and which will be doled out to the machines. For example, the 2013 Oxford Report on The Future of Employment attempted to describe
what categories of jobs would be safe from automation and which are at greatest risk to it. The study went much further than that and attempted to place probabilities on how “computerisable” various jobs are. The Oxford study, as well as many subsequent ones, generally argue that creative jobs, like artists and musicians, are less likely to be automated. Yet, we live in a world where the first AI-generated painting was sold at Sotheby’s for nearly $500,000. And The Verge published an article about how AI-Generated Music is Changing the Way Hits are Made. So coming back to cybersecurity – just what does the AI-hype mean for the industry? While there are no clear-cut rules for which types of cognitive and manual-labour jobs will be replaced, what we can say is that the recent application of advanced AI and machine learning techniques in the field of cybersecurity is highly unlikely to put security analysts out of work.
Understanding why requires an appreciation for the complexity of cybersecurity and the current state of AI. Advanced attackers constantly develop novel methods to attack networks and computer systems. Moreover, these networks and the devices connected to them are constantly evolving, from running new and updated software all the time, to adding new types of hardware as technology progresses. The current state of AI on the other hand – while advanced – performs a lot like the human perceptual system. AI methods can process and recognise patterns in streams of incoming data, much like the human eye processes incoming visual input and the ear processes incoming acoustic input. However, they aren’t yet capable of representing the full breadth of knowledge an experienced system administrator has, neither about the networks they are administering, nor the complex web of laws, corporate guidelines, and best practice that govern how best to respond to an attack. Simply put, AI systems will never have a full understanding of the “context”. The development of the calculator did not reduce the need for people to understand mathematics but instead greatly expanded the scope and possibilities of what could be computed – and consequently the need for people with mathematical understanding to explore those possibilities. Similarly, AI is just a tool that expands the scope and possibilities of detecting attacks that would otherwise have been undetectable. Don’t believe me? Just try looking at a high-frequency, multidimensional time-series of encrypted traffic and determine whether that traffic is an attack or benign. For the foreseeable future, AI will simply remain a tool in a defender’s pocket, making it possible to detect, and therefore respond to, ever evolving advanced attacks at speeds and scale hitherto practically unattainable.
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CHARTING TRANSFORMATION ROADMAPS
ADRIAN PICKERING, REGIONAL GENERAL MANAGER MENA, RED HAT, DISCUSSES HOW REGIONAL ORGANISATIONS CAN GAIN COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGES BY TRANSFORMING ITS IT INFRASTRUCTURES AND CAPABILITIES.
s the competitive landscape of the region evolves, enterprise clients are demanding solutions that are cost-effective, flexible, reliable, secure, and which offer alternative foundational systems to drive their innovation and digital transformation aspirations. Many organisations are getting serious about transforming their companies’ IT infrastructure and capabilities to stay ahead of the curve. At Red Hat, our ‘open’ approach to innovation and transformation is inspiring clients in the region to conquer their transformation roadmaps head-on. This is being achieved through the lens of open source. These objectives were reflected in our recent 2020-focused survey. Canvassing almost 900 client responses globally, the key takeaways of our future-facing outlook found that the key takeaways include: • Hybrid leading customer cloud strategy • Active digital transformation projects continue to rise • Companies are recognising the importance of culture • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) are of high interest This begs the question: What doors will open for client transformation journeys in 2020? Furthermore, how can these specific key trends proffer client transformation journeys? Hybrid leads cloud strategy According to the survey, hybrid cloud is the most common term used to describe customer cloud strategies. At the crux of this, ambitions to attain data security, 42
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cost benefits, and data integration were key movers behind hybrid cloud strategies. Although 31% of respondents highlighted “hybrid” as a term that best describes their strategy, 21% are leading with a private cloud approach, and only 4% declared a public cloud first strategy. In the Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA), a higher proportion of respondents described themselves as having a private cloud strategy than a hybrid one. This leaves the door wide open for hybrid cloud plans to proliferate further in 2020 and beyond, allowing them to integrate new and existing IT applications, develop cloudnative applications, standardise on our industry-leading operating system, and automate, secure, and manage complex environments. Over the past two years, we’ve seen customers embrace digital at an increased rate of 18% relative to last year. Moving beyond having no digital transformation plans (32% in 2018, 14% in 2019, 9% for the current 2020 survey) to implementing new tech and processes (31% in 2018,
50% in 2019, 59% for 2020), well over half of our customers are well in tune with the possibilities that digital can bring. While the key drivers for these projects varies from client to client, innovation is commonly cited as the overarching target for digital transformation projects. This rise in digital adoption reflects that companies are not just being pushed hard to stay relevant and competitive in the digital age; they are also pushing themselves to innovate while still working to optimise their existing IT competencies. That is why it is no wonder that optimising existing IT was the top (18%) single technology funding priority. The dynamics of workplace culture have been under the microscope for some time. And in 2020, the value of ‘open’ cultures remains a poignant area for workplace improvement and refinement. As a vocal advocate for influencing ‘open organisations’, many of Red Hat’s customers are beginning to take a similar stance – with 42% of the respondents stating that they’re in some stage of embracing an open organisation culture. AI/ML moving to the forefront In 2018, blockchain was prioritised as the top emerging technology that our customers voiced they wanted to grasp. However, blockchain has been relegated to fourth place in favour of emerging breakthroughs in AI and ML. Omitted from last year’s top three, 30% of respondents now intend to implement and use AI/ML over the next 12 months if they are not already doing so. Meanwhile, 19% of respondents said the Internet of Things (IoT), and 21% said that serverless or Function-as-aService (FaaS) were in their plans. Edge computing ranked higher this year as well, and could be a further area that will climb the ranks in years to come. The future challenges, strategies, and technologies that enterprises are planning to pursue in the next year paint a vibrant picture of the future IT stack. Paired with open source methodologies, solutions, and capabilities, there is no stopping where our clients’ digital transformation pathways can take them as we enter a new ‘open’ decade in the 20s’.
BE A DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION PIONEER
FOCUS ON THE CEO EXPECTATIONS THAT MATTER MOST TO BECOME AN INFLUENTIAL LEADER, SAYS DANIEL SANCHEZ REINA, SENIOR DIRECTOR ANALYST, GARTNER
teve Jobs. Sara Blakely. Mark Zuckerberg. What do they have in common? They led and grew their businesses with inventions that started or changed entire industries. But they didn’t do it themselves — behind them were leaders as committed to disruption as they were. And whether the product was the iPhone or something else, this ethos permeated the entire executive committee. It isn’t surprising that CEOs are eager to lead change within their own industries. In fact, 78% of CEOs believe their companies are industry pioneers or fast followers, according to the 2018 CEO Survey. But in order to disrupt, these CEOs need to surround themselves with people who adopt a pioneer mindset. With leaders united in the belief that digital transformation is inevitable, there is a unique opportunity for the CIO to influence the executive committee in exciting new ways. CIOs have a natural advantage today because ‘digital’ is at the core of any transformation. That advantage comes with a big responsibility: CEOs will expect CIOs to play a predominant role when it comes to pioneering transformations. CIOs have the technical acumen to lead digital transformation, but they must also exert influence by presenting intelligently formed strategies. Although that’s easier said than done, tactical exercises can help the CIO surface and refine pioneering ideas while also placing themselves at the natural center of the executive committee — and the future of the business.
Play the “what if” game Pioneers venture beyond the norm. They successfully execute ideas that differentiate themselves from their competitors and force industry change at the same time. One way to surface a potentially disruptive idea is “wishing” ideation. “Ask your direct reports or a sample of your team members to put those crazy ideas on the table that they would implement if there was zero risk for the company, the IT organisation and their jobs. These ideas have to lead the company to meet its strategic goals and/ or provide a competitive advantage.” During your what-if session, don’t belittle any ideas. Instead, talk through as a team how to tweak them so that they’re more realistic. The trick is not to lose sight of the original idea’s disruptive impact by watering it down. Assume a certain level of risk during this reduction. Otherwise, you might tend to find a zero-risk version for each idea, which most likely will not be a disruptive version. A similar exercise that encourages
dystopian thinking — and planning — can also produce interesting outcomes. During this session, challenge “fundamental truth” statements about customers, products, your internal culture or the market. For example, “Customers need our products and services” is a statement that few in your organisation are likely to dispute. But imagining a world where your products aren’t necessary can inspire out-of-the-box thinking. Start by asking them to state the opposite sentiment of your fundamental truth. Then, challenge them to find a solution to the dystopian problem. By positioning the mind of people in a different scenario, ideas will also have a different nature. Engage the C-suite Brainstorming and challenging the status quo make an excellent start, but unless internal culture embraces new ways of thinking, the culture is unlikely to change. Culture change, however, is more than adopting new processes or technologies. Working closely with executive committee members helps nurture innovative mindsets throughout the enterprise. No matter if the CIO reports to the CEO or another C-level member, CEOs expect new behaviors to be acquired across the organisation. Culture begins at the top, and stakeholders throughout the organisation follow the C-suite’s lead. Embrace your natural role as a digital transformation expert. Listen to what your fellow executive committee members need for their own organisations, and create digital solutions that will transform the entire business. Next, encourage the C-suite to open a discussion with their team members on what behaviors, habits and ways of working need to change to acquire those cultural traits. For example, if removing bureaucracy is a goal, a practical proof could be to reduce the number of approvers in the purchasing process from six to three. Engage the C-suite in a conversation about the cultural traits they find lacking in the enterprise — for example, accountability, risk taking, collaboration or decision making — and discuss why they are important when looking ahead.
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THANK YOU ALL
Customers, Partners and Team members for 13+ years of continued TRUST. We wish each one of you a prosperous and a
HAPPY NEW YEAR
Dubai | Abu Dhabi | #teksalah email@example.com | www.teksalah.com
Emerson Releases New Magnetic Slurry Sensor and Transmitter
Emerson’s Rosemount MS Slurry Sensor with the Rosemount 8782 Slurry Transmitter is a slurry magnetic flow meter specifically designed for high noise and slurry applications for use in the oil and gas, mining, and pulp and
paper industries. Featuring robust coils and advanced signal processing, a responsive yet stable flow signal is possible even in high noise applications. The new Slurry Magnetic Flow Meter helps improve product quality, reduce raw material cost, and minimise waste and re-work, said the company. The Slurry Magnetic Flow Meter, or Slurry Mag, provides a flow measurement solution for customers with fluids that contain large solids, mining ore, pulp or sand, or that experience high process noise or signal
instability. Featuring the latest advanced signal processing that is the first to adapt to changing process conditions in real time, the Slurry Mag eliminates noise from the flow signal without using excessive damping, giving operators confidence in their measurement calculations. The Slurry Magnetic Flow Meter uses advanced signal processing with real-time diagnostics to deliver flow measurement confidence and the ability to automatically control the loop.
HP Announces New Education Edition Laptop HP has introduced a new notebook designed for education – the HP ProBook x360 11 G5. The all-new HP ProBook x360 11 Education Edition PC design ushers in a new era of ruggedised learning for schools, said the firm. Fit-for-purpose engineering has yielded a PC, which can withstand drops and resist spills, said the firm. The slim-but-tough PC features a versatile 360-degree design, the HP School Pack software suite, dual camera system, and touch/pen interactions to help students create and learn how they
choose. The devices are the world’s first rugged convertible to support book mode for hands-free reading, said HP. The HP ProBook x360 11 G5 EE features a robust and durable design. Enhanced bumpers and reinforced corners withstand a 122 cm drop test on plywood, a reinforced power port prevents damage, and the keyboard resists picks and minor spills. The device enables students to transition quickly between writing documents, running STEM applications, and editing videos with the latest Intel processors,
allowing for smart, efficient teaching and learning process. HP said the product supports fast, dependable network connections for learning in the cloud. Also, IT teams can efficiently manage and protect student devices with integrated software tools like the HP Manageability Integration Kit and HP BIOSphere Gen5.
AOC Announces New Flicker Free IPS Monitors In Egypt AOC has launched two new models from its 81 series of monitors, AOC I2481FXH (23.8”/60.5 cm) and AOC I2781FH (27”/68.6 cm) for the Egyptian market. Both models are built with ‘Infinity Glass’ screen that extends to the edges of the ultra-narrow body, and almost seems to float above the desktop on a beautifully refined metallic stand with elegantly sculpted angles. The impressive appearance extends to the display itself, which uses advanced IPS technology for brilliant, consistent colour even at wide viewing angles. AOC Flicker Free technology uses a smooth backlight control system to reduce eye strain. Ultra-high Dynamic Contrast Ratio of 50,000,000:1displays darker images with more depth and detail, while the Clear Vision image performance
engine can upscale Standard Definition (SD) sources to High Definition (HD) for even sharper viewing. The 23.8-inch (60.5 cm) AOC I2481FXH and the 27-inch (68.6 cm) AOC I2781FH have asymmetric metal stands, a feature unique to these AOC monitors. Both feature ultra slim, nearly borderless frames. The bezel of the 23.8-inch AOC I2481FXH is a mere 7.5 mm wide, whereas the 27-inch I2781FH model’s is just 9.9 mm slim.
The two monitors are equipped with IPS panels with the Full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, users enjoy not just wide viewing angles of 178° but also images with highest-grade colour fidelity, impressive contrast and stunning detail, said the firm. AOC’s Flicker FREE Technology regulates brightness without flickering to ensure a zero-flickering viewing experience with reduced eye strain even during longer periods in front of the monitor. Both monitors can easily be connected to various devices including DVD players and game consoles, thanks to two HDMI connectors and one VGA socket. For comfortable listening without disturbing others, users can plug in their earphones right into the display’s headphone jack.
CXO INSIGHT ME
STATE OF IPv6 DEPLOYMENT JAMES LYNE, CTO OF SANS INSTITUTE, ON WHY SO MANY ORGANISATIONS ARE STILL NOT READY TO EMBRACE IPv6
e seem to have been talking about IPv6 forever. It was officially launched in 2012 but had already been in existence for a number of years and had been implemented on all major operating systems used by businesses and consumers by 2011. Even before that date, it had been widely acknowledged that we were running out of IPv4 addresses. And yet many organisations across Europe are still not ready to implement IPv6, with the issue varying hugely between countries and from company to company. While some businesses have not officially adopted IPv6 or put in place a strategy around how to manage its implementation, by allowing some technology onto their network which is already using the protocol (either with or without the express knowledge and permission of the IT team), they have in effect unofficially adopted IPv6. This means they run the risk of endangering the security of the organisation if firewall rules are no longer working, or if AV and other security products are not optimised for IPv6 traffic. The reason this is such a problem in Europe is that there is no overall body enforcing the migration to IPv6. In the US, government policy enforcing the transition to the new standard has driven some uptake, and in Asia use of the protocol has been accelerated simply by virtue of their extreme growth and need for addresses and the limited availability of more traditional IPv4 addresses. In a perfect world, organisations would be able to build a new IPv6 ready IT architecture from scratch. Of course, very few organisations have the luxury of this
CXO INSIGHT ME
but having to adapt legacy systems to be IPv6 ready poses a series of often very difficult challenges. Manufacturing companies, for example, rely on robots and machines on the production line. Many of these use the Windows 95 OS and often haven’t been updated for a long time. In some cases, implementing IPv6 would mean shutting down the production of a whole factory while the transition takes place, which would be incredibly costly for the business. Telcos have been working on the transition for years and will be slowly but steadily rolling out to consumers and businesses. It’s critically important to make sure that IT and security teams are prepared, since if the incident response and central monitoring team of a large enterprise is unprepared for IPv6 alerts, critical events could be allowed to go unnoticed. An even bigger challenge is that IPv6 is more than ‘just a bigger IP address’. The protocol has changed significantly from IPv4 and networks require an element of redesign in order to architect them correctly for performance and security. There is a real risk in doing this, of making security mistakes, exposing unintended resources or relying on a previous safeguard (such as a gateway with a NAT boundary creating an island). In many cases even software companies and vendors are not yet ready for IPv6 with their products. Some technology and security products are ready but others have still not fully invested in feature parity of IPv6 compared to IPv4. Aside from the risks of technology (such as a web filter or a firewall) not being ready, it is also really important to ensure that cyber security practitioners are fully trained in the new
protocol. IPv6 has new concepts that need to be fully understood and it is not uncommon to find it casually being used in a network without the controls being correctly updated. It’s not unusual to see IPv6 self-configuring on a network, or being used in association with Microsoft applications or OS services and the security and incident team being oblivious to its deployment. Another key aspect to take into account is the growing lack of qualified security professionals and the many daily tasks that need to be carried out. Security practitioners in general are in short supply globally, let alone those with experience in this specific area. In addition, large organisations usually have sizeable security teams and the ability to invest more heavily in IT projects such as transitioning to IPv6, but SMEs don’t have the same resources. Given that even big businesses are not yet ready, we begin to see the scale of the problem given that the whole supply chain process usually involves a lot of middle-sized companies that deliver critical components for those larger enterprises. There’s no doubt that the transition to IPv6 is a painful process for many organisations but it is a path than everyone will have to follow in the end. It is important that businesses move forward with their IPv6 deployments since there is already a surprising volume of IPv6 traffic moving around our networks and on the Internet. Organisations also need to ensure that, because IPv6 is not perceived as a ‘here and now’ trend, that its use does not forge forward with less attention being paid to it than it merits.
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Dell G5 15 Gaming
BUILT TO BRING OUT YOUR BATTLE CRY. All Windows based Dell G-Series come preloaded with 15 months McAfee Multi Device
Precision Group CIO on how his firm's cloud-led digital transformation drive is yielding results
Published on Jan 18, 2020
Precision Group CIO on how his firm's cloud-led digital transformation drive is yielding results