2009 IT Agenda

ACN speaks to some of the region's top IT managers to find out what plans and strategies they will be adopting in 2009.
2009 IT Agenda
By Patrick Elligett
Mon 22 Dec 2008 04:00 AM

ACN speaks to some of the region's top IT managers to find out what plans and strategies they will be adopting in 2009.

Esam Hadi, superintendent of business support, Aluminium Bahrain (Alba)

We had a big agenda planned for 2008, but 2009 will be different. Normally we do a lot of work with implementation, enhancements and things like that. Unfortunately this year, because of the financial situation and the worldwide recession, we thought we would wait for at least a few months before we start work on our agenda.

Looking at the financial crisis, thankfully our business is very strong and the market is good for us because people still need aluminium within the region and outside it.

What we are planning to do this year is address some of the things we may have been neglecting previously.

We will be doing more training, because we have a large number of new users who have joined Alba and we are trying to establish what their needs are. We have been trying to do this for some time but we have never done it quite well enough. So our plan will be to focus on training for SAP, SharePoint and similar initiatives in the future.

It's also a good opportunity for us to have a break. A lot of our IT employees couldn't go on leave last year because our department was overloaded with so many commitments, so in that way it could prove to be a good time. But obviously we do need to make sure the users get what they need, which is mostly training.

Looking at the financial crisis, thankfully our business is very strong and the market is good for us because people still need aluminium within the region and outside it. If more companies go down around then world then eventually we might too.

But companies like Pepsi and Coca Cola will still need cans and aluminium will still be required in cars and aeroplanes.

In terms of our business productivity we are still producing our maximum output, so we aren't really afraid of what could happen in the market. It's just a good time for us to lie down and wait to see what happens.

From a solutions and system point of view, most of the technology we need is already there. So we are going to be focused on looking at ways to make sure that we are more productive and have more user-friendly systems - the latter being one of the things that a lot of enterprises are lacking across many aspects of their IT systems.

What we will be looking for is a solution that can integrate all the various systems together so that you can work from one place and one system without all the complication. People want everything to be easy and all in the one place these days.

If we could get everything onto a BlackBerry I'm sure most would be happy with that. The main trend in IT at the moment is ensuring user-friendliness so employees will be both more productive and effective.

Hadi: The financial situation has not caused any problems with our budget, but we are trying to be cautious because nobody knows how long the downturn will last. If something happened that meant our customers across the world, in places like the US and China were unable to buy from us, it could obviously have a long term effect on our profits.

We need to look at 2010 and beyond. Most of the projects we work on can take a year and a half or more, so we are being cautious by reviewing what we already have and just waiting to see what happens.

Brigadier Saleh Alkubaisi, director of Information System Department, Qatar Ministry of Interior

In 2009, the Information Systems (IS) Department of the Ministry of Interior will focus mainly on improving the IT services it already provides to its customers and how best to align these service offerings to the needs of the business.

Various IT governance-related programs will be continued in 2009, with emphasis on project management, IT service management, quality assurance and additionally IS security management.

On the technical frontier, server consolidation, application modernisation, and systems development are among the main focus areas for 2009. Meanwhile, ongoing efforts are in place to leverage the quality of existing systems through maintenance, upgrades and re-engineering.

Fortunately, the State of Qatar as a whole and the Ministry of Interior specifically has not experienced any significant impact as a result of the global credit crisis. Our financial plans are still derived by our needs and strategic plans, so it is still business as usual for us.

We are planning some big scale implementations in 2009, including the unified geographical information systems and infrastructure, the Qatari Smart ID card for residents, the intelligent travel management system, and a few other projects.

I think that IT governance-related endeavors and virtualisation will be among the hot topics that IT managers and CIOs will be looking at across the Middle East region during the coming year. Dileep Somani, CIO, OTE Group

As it looks now, the theme for our 2009 agenda will be based around the economic turmoil which is occurring around the world.

It definitely looks like we will be in a position where we have to provide more with less - so the year ahead will be very challenging for us. The budget hasn't yet been formalised but indications that it may be lowered are definitely out there.

We will have new emphasis in terms of consolidation and attempting to bring about a much faster return on investment. There will definitely be much more integration and alignment in our business than what we have done in the last four years, as we will be looking to do a better job with the same number of people.

All the changes we face are related to the financial crisis. We've already had a lot of discussions about this matter internally and we believe that things won't be as good as they have been in the last four years.

We will continue to run the systems we already have in the best possible manner. We will also be consolidating both our technological and human resources within the OTE Group IT department in 2009.

The three main areas we will be focusing on will most likely be: better utilisation, better management and better alignment. We will also be looking into virtualisation from a server aspect, an application aspect and also a desktop aspect.

We finished our datacentre server virtualisation already this year, and we strongly believe we should be taking it forward to include application and desktop virtualisation as well. Hopefully, this will take place during 2009.

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