The biggest shift in IT right now relates to data storage, cloud computing and 'IT as a Service' (ITaaS), according to senior EMC executives in Dubai.
The first annual EMC CIO Summit took place in Dubai this week, gathering over 100 IT decision makers from across the Middle East, Turkey and emerging African nations. The focus of the inaugural event was the value of big data within the banking and telecoms industries.
Representatives of RSA, the security division of EMC, were also on hand to discuss evolving security measures in the face of worsening cyber-security threats. This follows on from RSA's recently released platform, Security Analytics.
"We are in the midst of the largest disruption we've ever seen, in terms of platform computing and in terms of information technology," says Brian Gallagher, president of EMC's Enterprise Storage Division. Many of our customers are already in the future and many are experiencing challenges, but they are already bringing forward capabilities that the rest of the world will follow".
"When we entered the 21st century, information became the new currency. The value of information continues to grow and what they can do what that information is compelling," he says. ""The ability to aggregate disparate traditional enterprise data with new types of data around social, location services and interaction – this is the power of information. Unlike other types of currency, this will continue to grow and grow".
While cloud, now at least a six-year-old technology, is already transforming IT and lowering operating costs, Gallagher believer it is real-time big data analytics that will fundamentally transform Middle East businesses – gaining competitive insights, enabling better decision-making and enhancing customer experience.
"The three top assets for any company are the brand, people and data," explains Mohammed Amin, EMC Senior Vice President and Regional Manager. "With the explosion of data, businesses must be thinking of how they can use this with CRM to be able to get products out faster to the market and find new avenues of revenue generation."
"So hence, data has become a real currency, with real value. The way you use your data to power your enterprise is the way you'll find new ways to generate money. You will not able to do this if you don't know your customer profile – their hobbies, usage behaviour, etc.," he says.
Mideast market closing the gap on tech adoption
While multinational firms and franchises will, for the most part, roll out the latest IT solutions across geographic markets in near synchronicity, regional firms and government organisations are left to adapt under their own volition. According to Amin, the region is accelerating to meet the pace of the west.
"I would say 15 years ago there was a huge gap in the adoption of new technologies and services, between this part of the world and America or Western Europe," he says. "This gap has really narrowed in recent years. IT adoption in the Middle East is getting very close to mature countries."
While not able to be specific, Amin tells AMEinfo of a massive cloud project with a regional government. EMC has developed a 'real e-government' for one Gulf country, creating a cloud for 40 ministries to share resources. In doing so, they minimised datacentre needs from 40 – one per ministry – to just five datacentres. This is also typical of bigger businesses migrating to the cloud, he says.
"With this new wave of IT, the whole idea is that we're trying to extract the infrastructure layer from the logical layer, gain intelligence and automate the datacentre with software. With virtualisation there is no one application dedicated for one infrastructure. The app itself feels and believes that you have a dedicated infrastructure, which leads to lower cost, more efficiency and makes IT more agile".
The benefits of more efficient and smarter storage, along with cloud computing, are perhaps obvious to enterprises, but it's also powering consumer trends, in terms of social engagement mobile connectivity.
"Everybody is winning," claims Amin, "but the new wave is not happening just because of new technology. We have to go by force – customers, suppliers, partners, everybody – towards a third generation platform".