Digital transformation: How can regional companies undergo a successful transition
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Cover story: How regional companies can get digital transformation right

Cover story: How regional companies can get digital transformation right

Digital transformation has now become ubiquitous – not just for IT teams, but for executives across all organisations


If 2020 was the year of adapting, 2021 will be one of renewal.

After what has arguably been one of the toughest years ever, there is hope and optimism, buoyed by the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination globally.

As we embark on preparations to get ready for the post-pandemic era, the lessons and learnings from the crisis will play a big role in determining the way we live and work in the future – whether that means policy shifts in organisations or adopting new strategies that better align with the so-called ‘new normal’.

But one major area that has received unparalleled attention across all organisations and entities during the crisis, which will take even greater precedence in the year (and years) to come, is technological transformation.

Digital transformation (DX), which was already on the agenda for most companies regionally and globally, will only accelerate – according to a recent report by IDC, despite the global pandemic, direct DX investment will continue to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.5 per cent from 2020 to 2023 and is expected to approach $6.8 trillion globally as companies build on existing strategies and investments, becoming digital-at-scale future enterprises.

The report also predicts that by 2023, 75 per cent of organisations will have comprehensive DX implementation roadmaps, up from 27 per cent at present.

Regionally as well, enhancing customer experience through DX is the top business priority for organisations across all industries, a survey by IDC found. However, the key is to understand that companies will have to adapt to all these changes while simultaneously ensuring business continuity.

“In today’s enterprise, the reality is that organisations need to run the business while transforming it at the same time – there’s no pause button or clean slate,” explains Anas Jwaied, vice president and general manager for Emerging Markets at Micro Focus.

“Similarly, most companies are not starting fresh when it comes to the technology stack that supports the customer journey. The majority of companies have made previous IT investments creating layers of technology that have built up over the years, from traditional mainframes to modern-day cloud and container-based infrastructure,” he states.

According to the IDC report, while DX spending will grow to represent more than 50 per cent of all IT investments by 2023, only 5.1 per cent of enterprises consider themselves to be excellent with respect to DX.

“Most DX initiatives consist of a series of projects driven by separate business teams and executives – each dependent on IT’s ability to deliver. By digitising front-end experiences and streamlining back-end operations, organisations can move faster, with greater agility, and secure what matters most in a digital-first world,” says Jwaied.

“With the recent shift in business conditions, including the rise in remote workers and remote customer contact, the role that IT plays in DX progress is more vital than ever. That means IT teams must add DX to their lengthy list of daily challenges, namely, prioritising demand, improving operational efficiency, accelerating new service delivery, securing the enterprise, and staying aligned with business objectives. Unleashing the power of technology to supercharge innovation is what digital transformation is all about. Now what’s needed is a faster, more agile way to get it done. That’s where cloud transformation comes in,” he adds.

Making the cloud connection
The role of cloud in digital transformation has been well-established. A study by McKinsey found that several companies launching digital transformations struggle to achieve the results envisioned primarily because “technology execution capabilities are often not up to the task; outdated technology environments make change expensive; quarterly release cycles make it hard to tune digital capabilities to changing market demands; and rigid and brittle infrastructures choke on the data required for sophisticated analytics”.

“Operating in the cloud can reduce or eliminate many of these issues,” the report added.

However, it also stressed that exploiting cloud services requires change across all of IT and many business functions, calling for a different business-technology model. According to Jwaied, the cloud plays a lead role in most DX initiatives because by pursuing hybrid IT and multi-cloud strategies, organisations can gain the delivery speed and agility they need to provision and run innovative application services instantaneously.

However, while there are advantages to cloud computing, there are also significant challenges.

“Every IT ops team has an evolving set of management tools for automating actions across platforms and cloud domains. But as complexity grows, process automation stumbles. Also, cyber threats are escalating. Ageing apps and processes, along with new services, contain unforeseen risks. Privacy and compliance requirements are mounting. And point security solutions do not offer the scope, vision, or cross silo analytics needed to address company-wide issues in a cloud-enabled world,” elaborates Jwaied.

“Also, there is the need for speed – software and the cloud are key to a competitive edge in the digital economy. Organisations need to govern, secure, and take advantage of cloud speed without restricting development team freedom and while keeping costs in check throughout the development life cycle.”

With cloud and digital transformation initiatives clearly overlapping, organisations must look for enterprise software providers that offer broad-based solutions, advises Jwaied.

“Micro Focus software provides the critical tools needed to build, operate, and secure cloud-based enterprise. By design, these tools bridge the gap between existing and emerging technologies, enabling faster innovation with less risk. Micro Focus has moved to the cloud, using our own tools and applying insights gained to our products and services. Our product services delivery centre provides internal R&D environments and production operations for our offerings. The lessons we have learned from taking a ‘software factory’ approach to evolving our product support teams are available to our customers – most of whom are evolving to a similar model as they run and transform,” he adds.

Micro Focus has also developed a methodology called ‘smart’ digital transformation, which calls for a thoughtful and pragmatic approach to balance risk and reward. As Jwaied explains, smart digital transformation comes down to four key outcomes:

Speed: Deliver at high speed with low risk
Agility: Leverage hybrid technology to simplify your IT transformation
Security: Secure what matters most
Insights: Lean on data and analyse in time to act

“It’s important for the business to prioritise which of these initiatives yield the highest return right now. That focus will show success and quickly enable them to move onto the next challenge rather than trying to do everything and failing,” adds Jwaied.

Ensuring business continuity
The Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the economic landscape globally, with many businesses forced to close down permanently – according to a survey by Yelp, in the US alone, nearly 100,000 businesses have closed down since March. While the GCC – and specifically the UAE – has managed to weather the crisis far better, for the businesses that have survived the pandemic, it is key to ensure that they succeed.

For Micro Focus, the focus during this period has been on learning and adapting so that it can help employees and customers adjust to the new way of life – whether that means remote working or creating operational efficiencies.

“As businesses transition to allow their employees to work remotely, Micro Focus would like to help by making it easy for organisations to ensure continuity of service to their customers. To that end, we have offerings including Adoption Readiness Tools and Training; a 90-day trial of Voltage SecureMail that provides internal and external email encryption from the originator to the intended recipient; an online community for sharing ideas on supporting the surge in remote work; and access to a Covid- 19 ‘Premium Support Lite’ until April 30, 2021 at no additional cost in mission critical industries,” states Jwaied.

He cites the example of a government agency in Saudi Arabia who wanted to immediately launch an app, but wanted to first test it to make sure there were no issues after the launch due to emergencies related to Covid-19.

“We offered them the LoadRunner trial for application testing, after which they agreed and requested for concurrent users’ licences. Given the urgency of the crisis, they needed it to be delivered in less than 12 hours, which we were able to fulfil,” he states.

In another instance, using its ITOM Network Operations Management tool, Micro Focus responded to an urgent request by a major power supplier to quickly build a Covid-19 network dashboard to stress test their remote network connectivity to prepare for large-scale employee homeworking.

“Our customer success and support team, in partnership with product engineering and other teams, also created a critical response support model called SWARM. This model, based on how healthcare trauma response units operate, helps support our customers who are on the frontline of essential services such as healthcare, pharmaceutical, government, and telecommunications. This ensures these customers get a rapid response escalation path to ensure their case is handled with priority,” adds Jwaied.

To further support its customers through the new normal, Micro Focus has also launched enhancements and on-demand delivery of solutions and signed strategic agreements with partners such as Amazon Web Services (AWS).

“AWS’s position in the cloud marketplace is significant, and we have provided support for developing and deploying modernised core applications into AWS for some time. This competency programme illustrates our advanced position as a partner to many in this space – and in particular, within the AWS ecosystem,” says Jwaied.

“As we have with other cloud providers, Micro Focus supports our customers’ choice for modernising their applications, process and infrastructure so they can exploit the cloud for development, deployment and the testing of mainframe applications.”

In November, Micro Focus also announced the launch of, a new digital resource to support CISOs and board members. Using the platform, cybersecurity leaders can assess their current status and identify strategy gaps so that they can take the necessary actions to protect their business, detect the changing risk surface, and evolve their competencies in line with changing threats.

The company also announced the release of NetIQ Risk Service 2.0, an authentication and secure access solution for organisations seeking a higher level of risk intelligence. It provides a constant analysis of behaviour that assesses when secured resources need a higher level of protection.

Looking ahead, as organisations in the region embark on their digital transformation journeys, they must ensure that they keep steady as they handle the delicate balancing act of evolving IT practices without jeopardising the critical business systems and processes developed over decades. Jwaied urges companies to adopt “open, integrated, and backwards-compatible” software options – such as those offered by Micro Focus – which remove the need for “risky rip-and-replace strategies”.

It is essential to depend on technology that bridges existing and emerging technologies. “That way you can run and transform at the same time,” he says.

It’s certainly the time to run now.

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