ICT leaders have key role to play in pandemic management

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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - Information and communications technology (ICT) leaders will have a key role to play in helping businesses not just survive, but also to thrive, during a pandemic, experts said at the 2020 Remote Workforce Summit.

Sandeep Sachdev, associate director for the MEA region at Tata Communications UAE, noted that there are several lessons that organisations have had to learn over the course of the pandemic that have redirected their focus to how they should plan for the future.

"Technology will play a key part," he said. "By 2027, we can predict that companies will start to distribute more tasks across smart machines, software, apps, and avatars. Employees will be able to work and speak with team members across languages, borders, and cultures, using language software and conversational interfaces. Employees will also develop personal toolkits of virtual counterparts with the help of AI software and devices that fulfill aspects of their personal or team-base activities."

ICT leaders, he said, will be at the forefront and responsible for helping organisations transforming to digital modes of business. They will also be heavily involved in accelerating analytics to navigate through risk; greater digital communication with customers; ensuring business continuity; improving the path to recovery; properly meeting government mandates; and mitigating risks for future pandemics.

Fawwaz Qadan, general manager for Blue Prism in Middle East and Africa, also pointed to a surge in automation that will help organisations save precious time that they can allocate to more pressing tasks. He highlighted how the company had recently worked with Mashreq Bank to automate a task that originally took the bank 48 hours, but was now reduced to a mere three hours.

"Our vision is a digital workforce in every enterprise," he said. "We build digital workers also known as software robots that are as close to or exceed a human worker. The best thing about software robots are that if you need automation to tackle a task, then you don't need to start building them from scratch. The process model is recyclable and reusable."

Ghinwa Baradhi, chief information officer at HSBC, Middle East, North Africa & Turkey, also pointed out that digital dexterity will be the greatest factor in driving success. Looking back at the disruption caused by the pandemic, she listed several lessons that businesses have learnt.

"You have to design for adaptability and resilience by using the right tools, and security should be at the heart of every design. In addition, you need to focus on continuous improvement and building a culture of collaboration that embeds remote working wherever possible," she said.

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Rohma Sadaqat

I am a reporter and sub-editor on the Business desk at Al Khaleej Today. I mainly cover and write articles on the UAE's retail, hospitality, travel, and tourism sectors.Originally from Lahore, I have been living in the UAE for more than 20 years. I graduated with a BA in Mass Communication, with a concentration in Journalism, and a double minor in History and International Studies from the American University of Sharjah.If you see me out and about on assignment in , feel free to stop me, say hello, and we can chat about the latest kitten videos on YouTube.

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