Interview with Tamer Hamed

CIO, Dubai Cable Company (Ducab)

Sep 5, 2021

What do you see as the CIO’s top priority? 

CIOs are no longer constrained towards only the enhancement of technology. In fact, our role is now more focused towards transforming the business to experience growth, products/service expansion, human capital optimization and eventually profitability breaking all past targets. This is mainly supported through digital transformation, automation and establishing center of excellence.  

How have you helped move the business forward? 

Technology alone can only scale a business to a certain threshold. We at DUCAB have a strong collaboration between business functions, technology, functional consultants and technical subject matter experts that together collaborated in expanding our business through implementing next generation technology. Thereby, developing a lean, efficient and effective business process with a continuous maturity iteration. One of the examples would be the implementation of the CRM platform which is integrated with our core ERP technology and horizontally integrated with other business functions such as finance, planning, etc. We shall soon be developing a case-study on the same upon completion.

What is your experience with digital transformation? 

Well, it wasn’t easy. It’s very important to have a vision for the organization and the road-map with milestones for the digital transformation. It starts with addressing critical flaws with some transformation initiatives and only after some time when the blueprint is complete, the business can realize unprecedented benefit. There are several challenges down the road, including buy-in from all the stakeholders, employees’ expertise and acceptance, skill development, etc. All I can say is that patience is the key throughout the journey.

Where do you see the industry heading in the next three to five years? 

The sky is the limit, but in particular I see a strong transfer of the technology towards the cloud with less resilience towards in-house data centers. This will be realized through several IaaS, PaaS and several specialized SaaS based applications with the ability to integrated with each other through APIs. Each one shall have the ability of rapid development and providing features at a scale which would not be possible with in house developments.

What’s your strategic plan for your current IT organization for one year, three years and five years out? 

​We haAt a high level, our strategic plans for the long terms is to have a sustainable, lean and efficient technological landscape based on which the business can expand its services and geographical reach with optimizing our current human capital. At a short-term we continue to introduce technologies across business verticals, enhancement of current technologies and improving the overall ROI of the technologies. The main functions of focus shall be finance, manufacturing, human capital, supply chain and governance of the organization through an effective GRC solution. 

How do you stay current on innovations and trends? 

We have various channels through which we are frequently updated mainly through our technology partners, focused groups, internal work-force, professional social media and some local and international forums such as CIOMajlis.

How do you engage and get buy-in from your diverse groups of stakeholders? 

​Well, the inception before the buy-in starts very early. Starting with understanding the stakeholder needs by having various focused group discussions between diverse stakeholders. Further, this is correlated with the business objectives and technology. From there on, the commercial aspects on short and long term are analyzed along with the risks and investments. Once, all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle perfectly fit, a strong business case is developed and proposed outlining the high-level blueprint of the project that addresses all the needs and queries of our stakeholder within a couple of weeks.

How do you retain employees? 

​I believe a proactive approach is very important, rather than waiting for talented employees to seek for opportunities, resign and then react to retain, which in most cases it’s too late. Employees are one of the most important internal stakeholders and the back-bone of the business. Our approach is to actively identify talented employees with diverse set of skillset who can corelate various business and technological aspects with a strong approach towards design thinking. We are currently in the process of forming a center of business excellence team which shall very soon be promoted and rewarded, think of it as a SWAT team on which the business can confidently rely on to provide solutions, strategies and overcome any challenges/ obstacle.

How do you upskill your employees? 

​With the advancement of technology, it is essential to continuously uplift the skills of IT As we are continuously expanding our business and technological landscape, its crucial to keep our employees upskilled. We proactively identify the technologies in our road-map and provide training to our work-force. This is not only limited to our IT team but even the business experts who would eventually be the users of that technology.

How do you support collaboration across departments? ​

​We utilize several tools and applications categorized towards addressing specific needs such as external stakeholder portals, audio and video services, chat and broadcast service, project management tools , IM services, Internal and external case management services and file sharing, etc. In fact, we have a detailed plan developed towards the communication and collaboration such that the mobility and collaboration aspects are designed to be enhanced over a period. The element of collaboration development enabled DUCAB for a seamless transition to work from home in the lock-down last year due to the pandemic.