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'Fearless digital leaders'

Annie Bricker | June 10, 2014
David Aron, Vice President, Gartner, talks about leadership, changes in the business and how to tackle the oncoming digital future.

In this region, we see a significant skills gap when it comes to IT. With that in mind, do you think we will have the local talent we need to move forward in IT in the future?

I can't claim to be an expert on the Middle East, but I can tell you a few things that I have observed while here. First, there is an enormous humility and willingness to learn that is simply not there in all the geographies of this industry. There is also what I would term a "leap-frogging" potential. The rest of the world has an attachment to legacy IT that may end up weighing them down. I believe that the Middle East is becoming an attractive place for foreign employees to come to find work. I think that there is an opportunity to leverage the skills that are coming in from surrounding areas. For these reasons I don't see the skills gap as a huge issue. In fact I see a huge potential for the region to move ahead beyond global competitors.

What is really the difference that we are looking at as far as digital strategy vs IT strategy?

It really is two different situations. When it comes to IT strategy, the question is how do we deploy IT to do business the best we can? It is a technical answer to a business question. Digital business strategy is really the opposite. The question with digital business strategy is given all the digital potential in the world, what can we do as a business or a government agency? What can we do with the digital potential that is out there? It is a business answer to a technical question. The Chief Digital Officer doesn't have to panic when taking such a huge step--they can simply decide to partner with another company to make, for example, a mobile phone company into a bank. For us when we look at technology practices we look at two things. Renovate the core and exploit the new. Renovate the core is the IT stuff. However, we can't wait for the core to be renovated before we begin exploiting the new. As such you may have to partner with outside entities to begin to do things in different ways. We can't wait to renovate the core either, we have to do both at the same time. That is my worry for the future of the region -- there is humility which can be good, but I hope that it doesn't translate into an overdose of caution when it comes to taking on both tasks simultaneously.

There are an increasing number of Chief Digital Officers globally, but virtually none in the Middle East region. Why do you think that is?


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