Datatechvibe spoke with Aly Hassaballah, Digital Transformation Practice Head at GBS about the emerging technologies that can disrupt the enterprise landscape, the challenges and solutions of new and remote working models, and the maturity of the digital transformation journey in the KSA.
Excerpts from the interview;
Tell us about your journey.
After graduating in 2003, I began my work as a developer and data analyst. I then stepped up the ladder until I became a consultant going through many roles in the delivery, presales, and sales until my role today as Digital Transformation Practice head for GBS. I worked in multiple organisations between vendors and system integrators and in different geographies. This helped me interact with all types of customers, understand their challenges and needs, and be part of their success during the transformation journey.
What emerging technologies could disrupt the enterprise landscape in the near future?
There are a lot of emerging technologies that boost the transformation from different angles; the question is not about the technology itself – as the needs differ from one organisation to another – the main aspect is how the businesses are involved in adopting these technologies. Technology is a tool at the end, adoption is the key to success. The more the technology enables the business to be part of the adoption journey and empowers them to take decisions and implement their needs, the higher the success rate.
Now the concept of low code and no code is evolving and being used by different technologies to ensure the collaboration between businesses and IT. Automation using business process management and RPA, development of new digital channels, building data practice from the bottom up to the visualisation with dashboards and the AI platforms, plus operationalising the outcomes into the business. These are the technologies that are now pushing for the low code no code concepts. This is the key to transformation success and has the highest impact on the enterprise’s landscape.
What challenges are you helping enterprises solve with new and remote working models? Does it vary by industry?
After Covid-19, organisations faced a great challenge – keeping the business going as usual but with a new setup where remote working models became mandatory. It was not easy, but many organisations quickly adapted to this new model. The different collaboration platforms enabled the teams to work virtually and have the same (if not better) performance. Also, digitising all the internal processes and adding more capabilities to customer-facing digital channels became necessary. With the technologies that we have now, we supported the customers to take shortcuts considering the best practices to fill these gaps.
The organisations we supported can now process their day-to-day business by leveraging these new channels where the need for physical presence is reduced. The success rate differs from one industry to another. The government, banking, and retail sectors have the highest success rates.
Can technology help create a more inclusive workforce?
Besides impacting the organisation’s business, technology also eliminates the presence of key persons where everything is kept under the control of the individuals. Having systems, standards, and regulations increases the productivity of the whole workforce and greatly impacts the organisation’s performance. Replaying for the workforce and optimising their utilisation will be much easier and quicker. This enables organisations to maximise the value of the existing workforce. On top of that, having a complete data practice within the organisation helps the individuals and the workforce, in general, to be smarter and take the right decisions at the right time. Planning for the future and serving the business better is one of the key results of such a practice.
How would you advise companies to scale up their digital transformation efforts in KSA?
Digital transformation is a journey, and I always advise planning for it; organisations must identify their maturity level and objectives. Knowing objectives and gaps is the key to a successful journey – this will create a roadmap and map the steps to be taken in this journey. Organisations must always keep their customers in mind and evolve through the maturity levels by increasing that focus – objectives around how to serve these customers better, faster and with the best customer experience.
Change management is always crucial to ensure the whole organisation is adopting the new technologies and business models. Data for any organisation is a treasure – if not managed, classified, and injected into the business properly, organisations can lose a lot. The data helps organisations better understand their business, make the right decisions, and forecast. The difference between right and wrong decisions is how much the data is being processed. The first step is identifying the data sources and ensuring they follow the right governance and integrity checks. There are multiple types of data (structured – semi-structured and unstructured), in addition to volume and consumption needs. These must be controlled and managed correctly, leading to better consumption of data and operationalising them in the business.
How can companies realise the true value of their technology investments?
There must be a model for the value realisation of any investment. ROI is measured based on multiple factors, such as driving new revenue streams, reducing the cost of operation, shortening time to market, or increasing customer satisfaction. All these are examples of the areas that need to be measured to materialise the ROI. Comparison between the as-is and the to-be, considering the new capabilities added to the organisation from this technology investment, has to be measured from all angles. If the organisation doesn’t have proper data in place, it will be hard to measure the improvement in all these angles, so it will be hard to realise the true ROI.
What advice would you give technology leaders to inculcate a data culture in their organisations?
Organisations are built up by the employees and these employees are what define the organisation’s DNA and culture. It’s normal to resist any change like new technologies brought to the organisation’s ecosystem. Data culture is a tough thing to create within any organisation – it must be considered in all the development plans for the employees. Individuals must be evaluated, and groups must be defined based on the results. Next, prepare an enablement plan tailored to every group.
The internal communication team has a significant role in increasing awareness about the data’s criticality and explaining why the organisation is taking these steps. The employees need to understand the value they will get from adopting these new standards. Two paths must be followed, bottom-up – by enabling the individuals and creating this type of culture; at the same time top-down – where the management ensures that procedures have been followed and the standards implemented are respected by everyone.