The Business Year

Dani Diab

Vice-President and General Manager, Emirates Computers

Amr Refaat

General Manager, Middle East & Pakistan, IBM

What sectors are generating the greatest demand? DANI DIAB We are predominantly dealing with the government sector with around 80% of our work, but we also sell to the oil, […]

What sectors are generating the greatest demand?

DANI DIAB We are predominantly dealing with the government sector with around 80% of our work, but we also sell to the oil, transportation, and supply services industries, and to public/local government. In the educational arena, we work with Zayed University and Al Ain University. We have contracts whereby we support them with all student requirements, including PCs and notebooks. However, we also add value to the notebooks we sell. We issue them ready-made images from Dell, and provide technical support, and a two-hour replacement policy. We also offer insurance on notebooks against loss or damage, thereby adding value to everything we sell. When we sell a solution on a PC we should be adding value, either in terms of project management, support services, application software development, or customization development. In the transportation sector, our focus is on customer relations management (CRM), for which we implement Siebel as an application platform. Additionally, we offer security solutions, on top of which we have a cutting edge in product in the form of a media interaction screen. It offers the same look, feel, and touch of an iPad, but on a 55 inch screen.

AMR REFAAT We have made it our responsibility to help schools provide better education. We’ve donated many Kidsmart units, which include a computer that teaches subjects such as mathematics, science, and language skills, and the children love it. We’ve donated around 360 units to different schools across the UAE, including those in remote areas that may typically get overlooked by such initiatives. We believe it is important to invest in the country’s youth, as they will inherit the country, and their enhanced skills will contribute to developing and furthering the overall vision of the UAE. We run a program at universities whereby we invite the top 20 IBM professionals to a university where they spend a month analyzing gaps, expectations, development potential, the government’s national agenda, and non-government entities, and then develop recommendations and action plans. We also fund PhD and Master’s programs. In addition, we are involved in the most sophisticated healthcare projects in Abu Dhabi. The government has been investing heavily in this sector. For us, it’s not about selling a specific product, but about implementing a core transformation of businesses. You need to have better management for specific areas, and this is where IBM comes in. We use our Global Business Services (GBS), which is IBM’s consultancy arm, and figure out how we’re going to provide whatever might be necessary. We hold workshops, analyze the internal dynamics, and deliver our comments, recommendations, and action plans based on the typical metrics of industry performance. We’re very keen to help with these kinds of core transformations, and that’s the kind of value we can bring our clients by leveraging our global expertise.

What does Abu Dhabi and the UAE need to become an ICT hub?

DD I recommend that the Emirate consolidate its IT strategy and engage in further consultation to effectively define any outstanding requirements. This is a real issue today; there is a large gap between requirements and what exactly technology can meet. If you define your requirement well, you can match it to solution that is more cost-effective, and that yields a better result. Students in Abu Dhabi are like any other students graduating from universities in the US, though the government needs to encourage more Emiratis to work in the private sector.

Why have you chosen the UAE as your regional headquarters?

AR We decided that for us to provide the level of services, expertise, and quality expected from a company like IBM, we had to have people living here in Abu Dhabi, and, therefore, established an office in the Emirate. The two areas where we’re moving fast are in the consultancy services, and also in Global Technical Services (GTS), where we provide IT infrastructure and business process services, including networking, security, and cabling. We expect to see substantial growth at the Abu Dhabi office because given the volume of national projects being undertaken here, both currently and planned for the near future.

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