Cybersecurity will make or break any digital transformation goals set by any organisation.
The seventh annual GBM Security Survey reveals as much. The study showed that as many as 41% of Gulf-based enterprises admitted to being breached at least once in the last 12 months, in comparison to 28% in 2016. Worryingly, only 31% of regional organisations were concerned about detection and response to attacks.
The survey was carried out in the UAE, Bahrain, Oman, and Kuwait, to examine how the region’s leading businesses are implementing their cybersecurity strategy. GBM polled over 600 executives and IT professionals from a range of industries including IT, healthcare, education, oil and gas, hospitality, and many others.
This finding underscores the necessity of a change in mindset, especially among management when it comes to budgeting for the right technologies needed to deal with a breach once discovered, says Miguel Khouri, GM for GBM, Abu Dhabi.
GBM has a long-established security practice that revolves around holistic and integrated approach to cybersecurity, propagated through the GBM Security Framework, says Khouri. “We started building the GBM security framework years ago when cybersecurity was less of a major concern for businesses as it is today. We now enjoy a very good reputation and major references around our solutions offering, from security infrastructure to applications and through to our managed SoC,” Khouri adds.
GBM offer solutions across various domains, such as application, data, network, endpoint, people (identity & access), and security intelligence. These solutions are complemented by GBM’s consulting services, which incorporates professional services, risk and compliance, technical assessments, and managed security services. “We will leverage the security partnerships we have with our vendor partners, complemented by the years of GBM security experience and expertise,” Khouri says.
Apart from cybersecurity, CIOs in the region face increasing pressure to transform and adapt to the digital agenda while optimising costs. “We increasingly find ourselves working with clients to implement both an agile infrastructure and innovative digital solutions aimed at both boosting their operations while reducing the cost of the services they deliver,” says Khouri.
Increasingly, IT is seen as a business enabler as opposed to a support centre for the business, with the active participation of the management in IT decisions. “For any organisation to be successful in identifying the IT needs their business, C-level executives must be part of it. IT should be considered as a tool to do more for less,” Khouri says.
For GBM, this means striving to reach these executives with a story that would potentially make sense to them than to a traditional CIO. “We are even transforming our own people to understand the language of business because the way you talk to an IT person is going to be totally different than when talking to a CFO, or CEO,” Khouri says.
IT skills shortage is an issue that plagues all industries in the GCC. Nearly 15% of employers in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region lacked the talent to achieve their 2017 objectives, according to a report by Hays Recruiting.
Specifically, organisations running on a mix of private cloud, public cloud, and on-premise solutions are scrambling to find the know-how needed to manage the infrastructure and applications in this environment and ensure consistent service-level monitoring.
To cope with the talent crunch, businesses can retrain or bring newly skilled digital talent on board, but they usually do not have the digital budget to support it, observes Khouri. Another option is to take advantage of managed services to support these operations and tasks, and thereby freeing internal staff to engage in new types of work that can help the business use information and technology more effectively.
The 2017 IDC Application Services Survey found that 30% of executives are allowing an external provider to manage their organisation’s infrastructure and application portfolio today – and that percentage is expected to rise to 41% over the next five years.
GBM is responding to the general lack of IT skills in the businesses it serves two ways: One is to train their staff to elevate them to the needs of the market, and the other is a focus on managed services. “With our managed services, we can take a big chunk of their IT services into GBM, whether it is an onshore, offshore or a hybrid arrangement, with the objective of making sure that the SLAs needed for their business are met with less cost using the skills we have in-house,” Khouri explains.
No industry has had a bigger effect on businesses and consumers in the Middle East over the last quarter of a century than the IT sector. Digital technology is today at the centre of people’s lives and most companies’ businesses, observes Khouri.
And cloud has emerged as a fundamental building block for any organisation embarking on a digital agenda. “One of GBM’s key strategies is to work with clients to transform their existing legacy environments into an agile, provisioned hybrid cloud using software-defined technologies that also allows them to integrate public cloud if required,” Khouri says.
The Abu Dhabi practice of GBM that Khouri heads has been responsible for some of the most ground-breaking projects in Abu Dhabi and the GCC across a variety of sectors. “We have built capabilities to assist federal and local government entities with operations optimisation, digital transformation, and automating business processes to reduce complexities and increase productivity,” Khouri explains.
An example of this is the implementation of the enterprise business intelligence and data warehousing platform project for the Abu Dhabi Security Exchange (ADX).
Regionally, GBM’s corporate structure has been a key boost for its success. “Ours was a unique formula among system integrators to have separate offices in different countries from the very beginning, enabling us to serve customers much better from a proximity perspective, Khouri says.
GBM can also leverage the expertise of any of the offices in its branch network when required.