Across the region, the driving role of business in digital transformation projects, is influencing the legacy relationship of system integrators with the IT departments in end-user organisations. Key IBM and Cisco solutions partner, Gulf Business Machines that operates across the Gulf, has been transforming itself to meet these new realities in the market place.
According to Hani Nofal, Vice President, Intelligent Network Solutions, Security and Mobility at GBM, the traditional approach of client managers, solution architects, and even vendor partners, has been to talk to the IT departments of end-user organisations. “However, the requirement nowadays, is coming from the business and we are committed to the business outcome rather than the box that we are installing,” he explains about the realignment required to meet present day realities.
In order to meet these expectations in the market place, GBM started its internal restructuring and transformation two years ago, which is presently ongoing and continuing. This transformation requires realigning GBM’s teams to understand the end-users’ customers in various vertical market segments. Another requirement is for GBM’s team to move technology into the core functions of end-user organisations from market segments that have been the most digitally disrupted by cloud, mobile, and analytics. For GBM, this includes market segments like banking and finance, education, government, retail, media, and technology.
Nofal expects that this journey will require sometime, will require a lot of training, understanding, and dedication. But it will finally generate teams that are better aligned with end-users in various market segments. They will be able to better relate to the business of the end-users, their end-users, understand their business language, and be responsible for the final results. “It becomes natural for us to see teams from our side that are experts in retail, experts in education, dedicated teams for financial services and banking, which is a very strong segment that we have.” GBM has also restructured its business units, creating new business units in some cases, and consolidating in other cases.
The challenge in this process of transformation is the long traditional timeline of engagement, wherein GBM’s IT teams have been working with IT departments within end-user organisations. GBM’s IT teams now need to engage with business decision makers along completely different sets of success indicators and different skill sets. “I think the challenge is to take people out of their comfort zone. Bringing our people out of their comfort zone to be able to understand the language that we are now trying to bring to some verticalised industry solutions, that our people have to digest and understand, so that when they go and talk to customers they are able to relate to their businesses and understand our customers’ end-users,” elaborates Nofal.
The need for horizontal solutions that are defined by technology is ongoing and will continue as it has traditionally done so in the past. But the key challenge is to get teams to play the role of trusted advisors for business decision makers and that means moving out of their legacy comfort zones. Digital transformation projects are driven by vision and specific use cases and require a different technology and solution stack. “A majority of the requirement comes from business users because they are after a specific outcome and this requires a lot of investment on our side to be able to upgrade our capabilities in order to understand the business language,” Nofal further explains.
Nofal also elaborates on the inter-relationship between GBM’s head office and country branch offices, where some of the skills and capabilities might not be available all the time within the countries. The approach is to replicate some of the good stories in other countries as well. This hub and spoke arrangement across the six operations is a unique flavor of GBM and a differentiator from other system integration competitors. The head office is the glue that brings GBM operations together.
Gulf Business Machines has been a key player in providing information technology solution and services to government, financial, commercial, defense, public security sector, retail, telecommunications markets for the past 20 plus years. The key services that it provides include infrastructure, networking, security, CCTV solution, datacentre, outsourcing, platform solutions, learning services, highly technical expertise. The technology solutions that it offers include communication and collaboration, private or hybrid cloud, analytics, mobility, storage virtualisation, Oracle and SAP applications, flash systems, managed services.
As a system integrator, GBM provides an end-to-end technology infrastructure solution. This includes systems hardware, operating system including Unix or mainframe, middleware, databases, networking, security, backup, management and administration. It also maintains skilled resources in services, software, networking, infrastructure, datacentre, training, learning services, to train end-users on new implementations.
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