Brand View: Gulf Business Machines is at the forefront of helping customers embrace the fourth industrial revolution in the region. CEO Martin Tarr explains
How prepared would you say everyone is for industry 4.0?
Being ready for Industry 4.0 requires the ability to adopt and integrate both digital and physical technologies to improve operations, become more productive, grow, and innovate. Digital technologies such as artificial intelligence and the internet of things are already having a fundamental impact on the economy and the way we live our lives. The digital conversation is now moving to the top of organisation’s agendas both public and private sector. Some are even beginning to see an effect on their topline revenues. One of our key strategies is to work with our clients to help them transform their existing legacy environments into an agile, provisioned private cloud using software defined technologies that also allows them to integrate public cloud if required. The implementation of hybrid cloud is a fundamental building block that any organisation embarking on a digital agenda requires and plays to GBM’s core skills.
What would you say about the pace at which the Middle East is embracing the fourth industrial revolution?
We see how government initiatives such as UAE Vision 2021 are key drivers for digital transformation programmes across public sector organizations. This focus of government is beginning to have a profound effect on the private sector, and I believe that Digital transformation is fundamental to the future growth and well-being of this region. Regional governments are leading the way in terms of technology adoption and spurring innovation.
As the UAE government moves towards smart, connected government entities, GBM has invested in capabilities to support the government as it works to deliver on these initiatives. For example, GBM has launched an initiative by piloting a free assessment for government entities to assist them in achieving paperless goals. This initiative is in line with His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, recent announcement that there would be no paper transactions for Dubai government as of 2021.
Are there any estimates for how much of an impact we can expect?
New technologies like open and shared data can increase GDP by $3 billion within the next couple of years, add Blockchain to that and it’s another $3 billion. Blockchain itself will do for transactions what the Internet did for information. It will be that dramatic. Our partner IBM has an Institute of Business Value which surveys over 10,000 CIOs globally and over 1,000 in the Middle East and Africa on how they plan to work with and apply technology. In this region, 78 percent of government entities expect to use Blockchain to increase profit and develop new business models; 65 percent intend to use shared data. Moving to AI, it will also be another major contributor to the economy. Globally it’s expected to be responsible for about 15 percent of the GDP by 2030, while in the GCC 29 percent of customers plan to invest in augmented intelligence projects for new business models; 51 percent say they will have AI projects within the next three years. So there is a huge amount of activity going on around the Fourth Industrial Revolution and 56 percent of companies have developed strategies toward the oncoming disruption, while 69 percent of expect to be disrupted in the next five years.
Fascinating numbers. But being at the forefront of this industry revolution, what excites you the most?
As a technology provider, I’m excited to be at the centre of now and to be driving the creation of tomorrow. We now know that the technologies we build really can transform the world for the better. Artificial intelligence will help to save lives around the world by improving safety and medical care. We’ll have better doctors, consultants, just better professionals in many different walks of life.
Technology is driving many positive impacts on society. The world now has the potential to connect billions of people to digital networks, dramatically improving the efficiency of organizations. At GBM, we are looking forward to playing a role in shaping a future that works for both business and society by empowering our clients with the latest and most cutting edge technologies.
Given what we’ve spoken about, when you look for candidates what profile do you look to hire?
We value creativity and great ideas. We foster a culture in which all employees are actively encouraged to put ideas forward. Doing so allows us to get the best from our people and encourages them to be creative. At GBM we have a great diversity; 51 nationalities across 1,400 employees. Oftentimes, you’ll find hiring managers tend to hire in their own image, creating homogenous teams. At GBM, we think differently. We believe that creativity often comes from putting together a team of people with different backgrounds, skills, and strengths as this fosters healthy debate and fresh perspectives. Lastly, we are proud to have great women in our executive leadership team and we will continue to elevate the role of women at all levels of our organization.
What is something nobody knows about you?
Some people might be shocked to find I’m a big football fan but I don’t support one of the big football clubs. I support Aston Villa, and other supporters include interestingly Prince William and the former British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Do you have a routine to how you start your day?
I’m lucky to live near the beach and most mornings I’ll get up and go for a run for 30 minutes. It’s very important to get your thoughts together and mentally arrange your day, and of course it’s very good exercise.
What are the three most important characteristics in an employee to you?
That’s a good one, out of the box thinking, passion, and agility.
What is the most important leadership lesson you have learned in your career?
I have learnt that Leadership is not about a title or a designation it’s about leading a group of people. The success of any company is dependent on its people. It’s my job as the leader to ensure our people are equipped with the right skills to do their jobs, have clear direction and enjoy coming to work every day. A clear vision helps everyone work together to achieve our common goals. These elements are fundamental in not just recruiting the best people but also retaining them. I like to think I provide my team with clear and direct objectives and I am not afraid to roll up my sleeves and get down in the trenches with them.
What word of advice would you give to a former boss?
There’s a tendency in many large companies that you get so focused on the today, or the quarter, that you don’t pay sufficient attention to the next 12 to 36 months. You have to plan your tomorrow.