HARNESSING THE POWER OF SECURE CONNECTIONS

Lebanon 2018 | TELECOMS & IT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Hisham Itani, Chairman & CEO of RGH Holding, on the company's successes, strategies, and vision for the future.

Hisham Itani
BIOGRAPHY
Hisham Itani completed his bachelor’s and master’s in business administration at the American University of Beirut. He started his professional career in his family’s printing business. Itani took the security printing business to another level and expanded into different technology verticals. He invested in R&D, which resulted in cutting-edge solutions that could compete on the international scene. His focus on technology has had a constructive and tangible impact on government automation and citizen experience in Lebanon. He is now Chairman and CEO of RGH Holding, which serves over 50 countries in more than 10 industries.

Which strategies have driven the success and expansion of RGH Holding in Lebanon and the EMEA region?

RGH Holding's growth from a family printing business to a diversified international investment group has mainly been driven by three factors: a dedicated focus on R&D, the ability to innovate and anticipate the demands of niche markets, and sustained investment in human talent. Our R&D strategy is proactive and driven by a determination to venture into new technologies ahead of demand. We analyse opportunities, foresee trends and needs, conduct research, and come up with solutions that focus on enhancing people's lives. After all, citizens ultimately want fast processes, convenience, and security. Human talent is an essential part of any business. With over 2,000 employees today, RGH Holding aims to continue investing in local creative talent because we believe it sustains a healthy business ecosystem. Part of our strategy lies in supporting rising young entrepreneurs by providing the necessary mentorship, guidance, and financial support to incubate and grow their businesses. Entrepreneurship drives innovation, creates jobs, and boosts the economy. Accordingly, our mission is to enhance our economic growth and retain valuable human capital by creating a space in which entrepreneurs and their ideas can succeed.

Being an incubator for start-ups, how do you think SMEs should protect themselves from the rising number of cyber attacks globally?

Cybersecurity is a primary concern for SMEs. Despite the rising concern about cyber attacks, awareness of such threats is still low, and thus vulnerable to ransomware attacks. To reduce those risks, SMEs should continuously be upskilled on security challenges relating to the Internet of Things, human errors, and cloud technology. In this case, it becomes every employee's responsibility and not just an IT department matter.

How is RGH Holding contributing to Lebanon's digital transformation?

Digital transformation is a necessity and is in full swing in Lebanon. The public sector is reaping the benefits of government automation. We work closely with the Lebanese government on several projects such as e-vehicle solutions, biometric passports, e-residency permits and e-work permits. Future opportunities are legion, and we aim to continue providing beneficial solutions to Lebanese citizens. Moreover, Serta, a subsidiary of RGH Holding, is contributing to this digital transformation. The company was awarded a major part of the national fiber optic tender in Lebanon. The last time an infrastructure project of this size was implemented in Lebanon was in 2004. The introduction of fiber optics will create a technological revolution as high-speed internet opens countless new business opportunities locally and internationally. This project will put us on par with industrialized countries in terms of internet speed.

What new technologies and/or trends is RGH Holding expecting to introduce during the course of 2018?

We are focusing on developments in digital identity, connectivity, and cybersecurity. Supplying governments with automation technologies is a top priority for us, as this will ultimately improve citizens' lives and protect their identities. Also, we believe that connectivity is a key economic driver. Securely and seamlessly connecting citizens with one another, government, and businesses creates a climate conducive to personal and economic growth. Finally, securing data is another priority for us. Therefore, we are working hard to develop cybersecurity solutions that will assist companies in preventing or countering cybercriminals attacks.

Besides government automation, to what extent would e-governance boost economic growth and improve the country's current 'Doing Business' ranking?

Successful e-governance will boost the economy by reducing costs and increasing efficiency and transparency. Digital technologies allow governments to streamline their processes and create a secure, more efficient and more rapid flow of information to citizens, governmental agencies, and the private sector. E-governance is a prerequisite for creating sustainable societies. If we get this right, everything falls in to place: people can transact and do business more efficiently, and the economy benefits as a result.