Picture: 123RF/PHONG PHAN
Picture: 123RF/PHONG PHAN

The world as we know it is dramatically shifting due to technology. Since the pandemic began, the way we live, work and connect with one another has changed drastically, and this fusion of technologies means that over the next decade every successful business will need to be digital at heart. The pace of evolution brought about by the pandemic provided a glimpse of what is possible — we now stand at a critical juncture, with the available tools to truly revitalise and reimagine vital industries.

As countries worldwide start to think about what “work” will look like after the pandemic, we must consider what this means for business. When I speak to our customers, one common factor stands out: digital transformation is no longer a luxury or nice-to-have; it has become a necessity for business success. Given the reach of digital technology and the change it promises, organisations across the Middle East, Russia, Africa and Turkey (Merat) region are in a race to become digital businesses. Some companies are leapfrogging into the future as they have fewer legacy challenges to deal with, while most others are accelerating their IT agendas.

With the importance placed on technology as the platform for innovation in an organisational context, a common mistake is focusing investments on the latest and greatest technology, without a clear vision about what this is actually going to do for the organisation. On the IT side, innovate with data, modernise applications and build agile and secure IT infrastructure. It will take new skills, and new ways of thinking, to lead the way, but the organisations that succeed will have a competitive advantage to innovate, capture more market opportunities and achieve higher revenue and business success in the long term.

To maximise the effect of capital investments, organisations need flexible systems that can grow with the business. By adopting flexible infrastructure, the business can also reduce operating expenses by increasing system availability and improving the productivity of the IT team.

Data first

The rate of data growth is not slowing. Many organisations are managing more than five disparate IT systems to mobilise, analyse, protect and secure data, creating complexity and a lack of data visibility.

Data is the lifeblood of every business, allowing organisations to innovate in ways never thought possible. Vehicles will become fully autonomous; telesurgery will remove barriers to vital health care; digital cities will revolutionise our daily lives. With the pace of transformation accelerated, a data-first, data-anywhere business model is required to capitalise on the opportunities.

As we enter the zettabyte era, with ever more devices coming on stream, there is a risk that businesses could become overwhelmed if they are not prepared. A zettabyte is the equivalent of 1-trillion gigabytes — about 250-billion DVDs’ worth of storage. Consider that humans and machines will generate, at a minimum, 175 zettabytes of data over the next five years alone and we can understand the urgency.

One of the integral facets to data is Edge computing, which is the prerequisite for 5G connectivity and is already turbocharging internet of things (IoT) devices that connect cities and homes. By embracing the potential of Edge computing, which can capture, store, process and analyse data where the data is generated instead of in a centralised data-processing location, the power of 5G can be accelerated and unleashed.

Transformation is occurring at many layers across the information technology stack in organisations. As artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), multicloud, IoT and others emerge, organisations need to navigate these technology inflections to create infrastructure that minimises the risk of digital disruption by competitors. It is therefore crucial to set the foundation for the future of the business with secure and agile computing, storage, networking and data management technologies that can be tailored to business needs and expanded over time.

As we begin to turn the corner into a post-pandemic world, I’m hugely optimistic about the opportunity the digital sector in our region presents, with the push for digital transformation coming from governments, and the end goal being to improve citizen experiences and fuel economic growth. For example, another aspect of digital transformation is to harness technology and data to accelerate equality in the workplace, empower gender diversity and champion access and opportunity for all. By cultivating inclusion, innovation and the ability to thrive and progress is unlocked.

We should be excited by the power and potential of data and digital transformation to drive long-term business and socioeconomic success. It is a matter of choice — do organisations want to wait and fall behind, or do they want to be the digital disrupters of the future?

• Amin is senior vice-president: Middle East, Russia, Africa & Turkey for Dell Technologies.

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