Luca Allam, Managing Director of PHD UAE, joined Forbes Middle East for their recent digital trends event and lent his expertise to their panel on digital transformation, speaking about the importance of finding the right people with the right vision.
Allam discusses the main challenges being faced in the region when it comes to digital transformation and how businesses can identify their talent needs.
What do you think are the main challenges being faced by Middle East businesses currently trying to implement a digital transformation within their teams?
Organisations here are not just waking up to transformation since they’ve always been evolving. It isn’t like the Y2K saga, where a potential problem was identified, and everyone scrambled to fix it in a short space of time. Organisational transformation is an ongoing process that goes beyond the digital dimension.
It requires the courage to reorganise legacy processes and systems. Simply optimising existing operations will only get you a 5–7% improvement, so to really reap the benefits of transformation; you need to aim bigger and higher. This requires bravery and focus because change can be scary and uncomfortable.
It’s about aiming for the long-term, anticipating relevant trends and identifying the most impactful solutions. That said, no solution will be relevant forever, so we must consider what investments have a longer shelf life or procure adaptability by viewing them through a future lens.
As well as the long term, companies must consider the short term. Making significant changes can be expensive and often requires transition periods, during which future profit drivers are prioritised over traditional ones. In the current economic climate, moving out of your comfort zone and risking short-term targets in the hope of meeting long-term ones can mean a significant collective leap of faith. That’s why we often recommend a tiered approach, with low, mid and high-risk solutions.
The third challenge is organising data capture. Building the right data infrastructure (both in terms of how the business functions, and the customers it appeals to) and then applying the right technology (including the use of AI) for optimal decision making can be difficult. It is critical to start on the right foot.
There’s one more challenge, the most important one: talent. Whether the right talent is already inside or sits outside of an organisation, it needs to confidently and accurately plan and deploy organisational restructure and change. Companies and marketing agencies are already investing in their talent to help guide transformation, including data scientists, technology and measurement experts. In addition, agencies are skilling up account servicing resources with analytics capabilities.
You spoke about the importance of finding the right people with the right vision – how do you do this?
An organisational maturity vision and roadmap are essential to set the most efficient course through disruption. In terms of talent, a transformation / change team will balance people who understand the existing operational detail of the organisation, with people with fresh perspective and expertise on optimising businesses. Workers with experience of organisational change will offer huge value here.
Once this is done, it becomes easier to identify what other talent and skills are required to ladder up to that vision – most likely more technical skill sets. Both are equally relevant and essential to effecting successful change. Younger workers have a complementary skillset to that of their older colleagues and both groups can learn about the others’ strengths through collaboration and exchange of knowledge and experience.