The Business Year

Justin Murray

Managing Director, ITQ-Qatar

Abdul Salam Knio

Managing Partner, Information & Communication Technology

With businesses in Qatar realizing they cannot just wait for people to come to them, they are increasingly seeking the right tools to operate in a digital world and get their messages out.

Gave you noticed a change in the profile of companies that request your services and their requests?

JUSTIN MURRAY We see a huge interest to go digital from different sectors such as construction, events and conferences, healthcare, F&B, distribution, and so on. There is a growing awareness of the need for decent IT support, which is one of the biggest changes. We have a wide range of clients in every sector and industry that have come to us and said their in-house IT capacities are no longer enough. They now require something else for their high-level digital projects. In addition, many international IT support companies that have connections with major retailers in Qatar want to white label our services, so our personnel go to their clients’ offices and offer the support they need. In any case, many companies, especially in the events sectors, now request support to set up systems and training to operate them, instead of someone continuously helping them. Major factors to consider in today’s digital transformation requests are also backup and data recovery centers. It is shocking how many disaster recovery sites there are for major players that do not need them. We are assisting them to store their data in our servers, which they truly prefer over cloud servers. Finally, e-commerce definitely has significantly more requests than it used to, since many sectors and businesses understand they need to be able to service and deliver to their clients digitally.

What role do private companies play in raising awareness about the importance of adopting digital transformation strategies to be more resilient to sudden impacts?

ABDUL SALAM KNIO First, the government of Qatar has been committed to creating a smart, agile, and digital economy; thus, there have been many national initiatives to boost this also from the public sector. As an important part of Qatar National Vision 2030, laws and regulations governing digital transactions have already been enacted, with more to come. This is a continuous process in Qatar. Furthermore, cyber security concerns are well addressed in the country. On the other hand, ICT has been engaged in many activities to boost awareness and knowledge about digital opportunities in Qatar. We are participating in the Qatar Business Incubation Center to assess digital concepts, start-ups, and initiatives. We are sponsoring innovation awards and events to help university graduates understand the importance of digital transformation. We are also organizing seminars and participating in forums in Qatar, such as the Qatar Digital Diplomacy Conference. We are even holding one-on-one meetings with executives in the country. It is important to realize that digital transformation is a strategic initiative that requires leadership both in the public and the private sector. Leaders have to incorporate digital transformation into the DNA of their organizations. We envisage an evolution, but it will not happen overnight. However, Qatar is a small country, so initiatives could be scaled quickly.

What opportunities do you see for companies to grow under this challenging COVID-19 scenario?

JM There are huge opportunities, and we are exceptionally busy at the moment. On the remote support side, we have been incredibly busy with keeping our clients’ businesses viable; that is essential for us. The second area is website services delivery. Our development team is doing impressively well. Other section is social media to protect and understand one’s employees. We are advising many clients to be positive, proactive, and supportive of their staff. For example, we organize for one of our clients a weekly global conference addressed to its entire staff, where people can drop in or out just to have a chat and catch up with their colleagues. In addition, we have set up internal social media groups for many of our clients. Finally, we are delivering data storing services, which help drive costs down for organizations, a much-needed support in this scenario.

ASK No one is pleased with the situation at a human level; however, it is obvious that some businesses have been doing well at a commercial level, such as hygiene material suppliers and technology-based businesses. For example, over February and March 2020, in ICT we have witnessed an increase in orders related to enabling secure remote access. When you are working in a digital environment, logins must be authenticated. So, we have seen many business lines growing because of this outbreak. Strategically, COVID-19’s impact will make all sectors realize that digital transformation has to be a strategic priority for their resilience and sustainability. Today, all organizations will have to put digital transformation in full context. It covers not only technological considerations, but also political, economic, social, legal, environmental, innovation, workforce, and procedural aspects.



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