What the private sector needs to do to boost innovation

The great Irish philosopher George Berkley once asked: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? A man with a keen interest in the philosophy behind observation, Berkley believed that to be is to be perceived. From his perspective, since nobody heard the tree fall, it never happened.

Fast forward 300 years till today, and this question still leaves us stumped. We are seeing governments set the pace when it comes to embracing the wave of digital technologies, like the cloud as well as analytics and big data, thus encouraging private sector entities to follow suit.

Government leaders are keenly aware of the benefits that can be gained through the implementation of these solutions, and the private entities that have followed their lead have understood that in order to stay ahead of the curve, or even on it to begin with, a digital transformation is a necessity.

This raises the question: If you own a business and have not yet embarked on the journey towards digital transformation, does the business exist?” If we follow Berkley’s logic, the answer would be no.

The UAE government has already taken measures to ensure that the ICT sector gets adequate support. For example, Gitex, a globally acclaimed technology event, has been hosted by the UAE government every year for over 30 years. In terms of citizen services, the UAE has implemented a plan to make 90% of all government services available to citizens online.

Our visionary leaders have also made legitimate commitments to the UAE’s digital growth, with the establishment of advanced IT policies forming pillars of many of the UAEs strategic long-term plans. In Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed has introduced the Smart Dubai initiative, which aims to bring the private sector and government together in order to deliver a smart city experience for residents and visitors.

Furthermore, Sheikh Mohammed also launched the emirate’s flagship Internet of Things Strategy and Data Wealth initiative earlier this year. With it, he aims to promote the emirate’s digital wealth, which has been cultivated through the establishment of advanced digital infrastructure, something he considers a strategic national asset.

Much like Dubai, Smart Abu Dhabi also places the citizen and innovation at the heart of its policies. Residents of the emirate can benefit from access to government services at their fingertips, with Abu Dhabi rolling out a series of apps, such as the CityGuard app, aimed at increasing government accessibility.

Despite the striking progress made by the emirate’s leaders, we still experience caution from the private sector when it comes to embracing this wave of digital change. Private sector IT spending is transitioning at a slower pace, with the focus remaining on traditional hardware and infrastructure projects.

So, what can private entities do to bridge this existing gap?

We have a number of recommendations.

Having a visionary CIO at the helm is instrumental

As aforementioned, the impact of the digital transformation is far reaching and will impact almost every company within every industry. Companies that understand these new dynamics and can adapt accordingly will thrive, those that cannot will struggle to survive. A visionary CIO that can put a plan in place and migrate to the right technology at the right time is essential in order to achieve successful digital transformation.

Bringing IT into the boardroom is a crucial step

Elevating the status of IT within the company is crucial should they want to get any digital rollouts off the ground. Gone are the days where IT issues were reserved for the IT department and the CIO – IT is now a pillar of the company’s business strategy and should be treated as such.

Approach IT from a business perspective.

Many companies still view IT investments as a luxury as opposed to a necessary investment. The truth of the matter is measured IT investments secure your relevancy in the market and make your business more competitive. In a country where mobile penetration stands at 228% and everything from government services and groceries can be handled via    a mobile app, ignoring the digital transformation is not a viable business strategy.

Speaking to professionals can make a difference

Technological transformations can be incredibly challenging for companies, which is why aligning yourself with a trusted partner can make the transition a comfortable experience. IT solutions are also not a one size fits all package, the right consultant will ensure the right combination of technologies are put in place with your bottom line in mind.

With data now set to become our greatest natural resource, many are referring to the digital era as the fourth industrial revolution. The last industrial revolution shaped the landscape and the destiny of nations around the world, with many of those who were left behind then, still struggling to catch up today.