Giving people the chance to be creative and air their ideas is an important part of management to Paul Potgieter, Managing Director at Dimension Data Middle East. Clients are also crucial to defining what is relevant to the organisation he works for.
Describe your current job role and the parts that are somewhat challenging?
I have the immense privilege to represent one of the top global technology brands locally in the Middle East. Due to its relevance and differentiation in the region, it is one of the most instrumental enablers of technology known in our industry. Therefore, a Managing Director at Dimension Data Middle East, the epicentre of my focus and energy is invested in how we can do more – more in terms of creating value for our clients, our technology partners and our people. Bringing our people and our vast organisational assets together to allow our clients to gain value in a dynamic technology and business environment presents several challenges which must be turned into opportunities. These often can be daunting due to their overall risk, however, the most challenging part is to remind oneself of the prioritisation of what is needed. Essentially taking the time to zoom out, see the bigger picture and then zoom in to execute at an operational level.
Can you explain how your company works with vendor partners?
Our market efforts, investments and strategies are essentially fully immersed and integrated with our partners – this narrative was established right from our inception and remains in our DNA today, 37 years later and vital in the Middle East. As a system integrator with capabilities across the entire ICT value chain, our value is solidified in the partnerships we have to actualise the level of technical specialisation and integration needed for clients to realise true business value at scale and across the region.
Therefore, to ensure our clients gain and capitalise from their technology investments, we see our partnerships which are underpinned by co-innovation, co-design and co-execution as a critical success factor. In the region, we have made additional investments in strong alliances to bring the vendor and integrator value chain closer and globally our US$3 billion R&D spend continues to leverage vendors at the inception of our product and services creation ethos.
How do you ensure your organisation flourishes in a highly competitive market?
In the information age, whereby our markets, our economic and social constructs are all interconnected, our litmus test concerning our competitiveness is defined by our relevance and differentiation in the market place. A source of value in this regard is our clients: our clients define if we are relevant to their objectives, whether we are able to differentiate and instil value in their businesses. Therefore, we are accelerating our investments in the region which amplifies our ability to manifest a greater degree of business value. As an outcome, we are able to localise transformational solutions that bring organisational agility to our clients to optimise their operations, productise and monetise new product offerings, notwithstanding leveraging new business models due to our ability to embed technology into the core of their businesses.
What are the latest trends you see emerging across the channel?
There are many. However, I believe that in the Middle East, our CXOs are inundated by demands from their businesses concerning how they leverage data. One of the major shifts in the regional market pivots around how we are moving from “data visualisation” to “data actualisation and automation”. In essence, the influx of different data types, levels and constructs of data has left many CXOs with a perplexing scenario – first, how does my organisation make sense of these insights in a sustainable and repeatable way. Second, what does this new level of data insights mean for the organisation as sources of data are coming from the Edge of our operations and can be valuable to the organisational strategy? There are organisational game-shifting examples whereby legacy organisations in our region have experienced a new wave of efficiencies, savings notwithstanding new revenue streams due to their ability to gain and moreover leverage data insights in their businesses. The organisations gaining the most value on the data front are those that are transcending data visualisation and have essentially incorporated data driven technologies across the facets of their businesses.
What is your management philosophy?
It’s about PEOPLE – my management philosophy leans into strong human relations and is supported by a robust systematic and pragmatic approach to the operationalisation of our business. I am an advocate of allowing our people to outline their ideas, have the opportunity to be creative and extending sufficient control to shape their respective objectives. However, the importance for me is the overall organisational fabric of the organisation – if we want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.
When you look back at your career what has been the most memorable achievement?
I have been fortunate to experience some phenomenal career highlights. However, if I reflect on a particularly memorable achievement, I tend to think about how we as leaders in business must continue to press forward in times of change, how we need to take our people along in this journey and how often it is far easier to opt-out and give in, rather than opting in and moving forward when everything is an unknown. Therefore, an achievement for me is having an agile and learning mindset as it takes discipline to work through unknown business challenges, markets changes, notwithstanding the perpetual and accelerated rate of change. In addition, the current chapter of my career has been truly instrumental in calling the UAE my home and essentially being part of such a dynamic and progressive business, social and economic environment has been a pivotal highlight.
What made you think of a career in technology?
Technology and especially technological innovation has always played a significant part in the shaping of our industries, economies and the evolution of our human ambitions.
My passion for Information Technology and the considerable time and energy I have invested started at a young age through exposure to the engineering element of the field. The early exposure of being able to understand and leverage tech quickly was amplified by education and the real-world exposure of how Information Technology shapes and in a ubiquitous way impacts every aspect of our lives. It is the combination of these factors, which rapidly made me obsessed with playing a part – in some way or form – in accelerating the value of Information Technology for businesses and people.
What do you think will be the hot technology talking point of 2020?
The technology impact of COVID-19 – Information Technology is playing a significant role in our ability to identify, track and manage the spread of COVID-19.
In many regions, Edge technologies are being leveraged to feed new levels of data engineering, Machine Learning and in some cases, Artificial Intelligence to assist in response strategies and overall containment. In addition, the impact of remote working and the consequential use of collaboration and communication tools will be long-lasting as we see more business shift their ICT requirements to secure, productive and collaborative technologies. Undoubtedly, the role of cloud and especially public cloud and the respective infrastructural and operational benefits which cloud architectures carry, will see significant value as the above technology trends rapidly unfold through and beyond the time of Covid-19.
What are your personal interests and where do you like to spend most of your time after work?
Out of the office, I am an avid enthusiast of fixed wings, two wheels and autobiographies. You will absolutely find me either spending time with my family or see the family and me enjoying my passion for flying and adventure motorcycling. The rest of the time, I always have had a disproportionate interest in autobiographies, with the ability to shut the world off and immerse myself into the life-stories of great leaders, influencers and life-changing learnings. Recently, I found Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, My Story and My Vision: Challenges in the race of Excellence immensely insightful.