Complex Made Simple

When tech kills your business

Even though the full digital infrastructure is not available, innovators should not stop turning new ideas into profitable businesses. This was one of the thoughts expressed during the “When Tech Kills Your Business” session at the Top CEO Conference on April 5 at the Westin Mina Seyahi Dubai.



The session began with a presentation by Professor Peter Zemsky from INSEAD, who was also the moderator.


The CEO of Omnicom Media Group, Elie Khouri, said the new technologies have disrupted marketing techniques in big way. “Publishers have become advertisers and advertisers have become publishers, while users have become media in their own right, through bloggers and influencers,” he said, adding that this is a positive trend, provided it is managed properly.


Marwan Iskander, managing director of M.I. Associates, focused the on the workforce aspect of the digital disruption. On competition, he indicated that the digital trend is generally positive, but the risk is that there are only five or six companies that are calling the shots at the global level and this has eliminated perfect competition among businesses. In the Arab world, “we are users of technology and not the innovators”, said Iskander.


Mudassir Sheikha, co-founder of Careem, was of the view that the availability of digital infrastructure is a challenge his organization felt when he and his team launched the Careem taxi service in the region. “We had to do our own road-mapping and figure out the payment systems,” said Sheikha. However, he added, the market is changing very fast and businesses are adapting to these changes.


Samer Bohsali, partner of digital business and technology at Strategy& Middle East, said that new technologies are calling for a redesign of business models to remain relevant. Government support on regulation and data protection will go a long way in ensuring the bright future of the businesses in the region, he said.


Talking about millennials, Bohsali said that today’s generation is very demanding as they are looking for immediate services and responses from both the government and the private sector.


On this, Khouri added that talent is very important and millennials are the new creators and buyers and they are looking for immediate gratification. So, the purpose of business is changing and new models are being created.


Panelists showed cautious optimism toward the tech disruption and concurred that adaptation is at the core of this change.