DUBAI - Middle East business leaders have highlighted the importance of strategic technology investments for companies in the region at a time when the global economy is impacting the local business landscape.
In a survey conducted at a business conference in Bahrain, executives questioned unanimously agreed that strategic IT investments can help companies survive and prosper during an economic downturn, and 94 percent went on to say that the role of CIOs would become more important to their businesses during such times.
“Increasingly technology is defining its role as a key business tool during the current economic climate. Middle East executives recognize the need for strategic investments to help reduce TCO, run lean operations and increase a company’s bottom line. IT investment must be of boardroom-level importance,” commented Salem Al Angari, president of SAP User Group SUG-MENA.
When questioned, all executives felt that IT vendors could help by becoming more proactive in helping to justify IT investments. Key areas identified were demonstrating return on investment and preparing board-ready business cases.
Of those executives polled, 63 percent had also witnessed an increase in internal competition for IT budgets; further indication that IT is viewed by the business as a key enabler of strategic initiatives. Opinions were divided when questioned regarding the forecast for IT budgets. 53 percent believe that budgets would return to pre-downturn levels in the foreseeable future, while the remainder believes that this will not be the case.
Executives also voiced their thoughts in regard to IT related concerns. The primary issue cited was insufficient resources to support essential projects (47 percent), followed by a lack of understanding about the value of IT (32 percent) and the third issue was identified as disruptions due to lack of vendor continuity and mergers and acquisitions (21 percent). Some 58 percent confirmed that their company would not be using IT assets as a means of generating cash in 2009 through actions such as the sale and leasing back of hard assets and outsourcing agreements.
“Regional businesses recognize the critical difference between technology investment and expenditure. In order for businesses to demonstrate leadership and emerge stronger from the downturn they need support from the business and the ability to invest now. All IT vendors should be taking action to support their customers in this respect, which means going far beyond simply delivering projects on time and on budget. It requires adding a third dimension: measurable, ongoing value,” said Sergio Maccotta, managing director, SAP Middle East and North Africa.
“Our work in the MENA region includes using our extensive industry and solutions expertise to help organizations build closer business and IT collaboration, drive business value, reduce TCO and deliver on the real-time enterprise,” continued Maccotta.
The SAP User Group - Middle East & North Africa (SUG-MENA) Conference provided a common ground for senior IT executives from across the Middle East to discuss the challenges of managing the changing role of IT and interact with other SAP users. SUG-MENA conferences strive to provide rich and diverse content, with the aim of capturing the interests of SAP users, and incorporating suggestions and recommendations from attending members. The event provides an unmatched opportunity for SAP customers to attend demos, specific presentations, and interact with SAP experts on a one-to-one basis.