How long have you worked at Cisco?

I have been with Cisco for about two years, joining the Dubai office as a Solutions Executive with collaboration expertise. Previously I was in the US at Microsoft as a Services Executive for the automotive vertical. Previous roles included one at Oracle where I was an international speaker for them at OAUG and Oracle Open World.

So from the US to Dubai. Are the business challenges the same or different?

In the Middle East the dependency is on hydrocarbons - oil.  Oil won’t last forever, so the ambition is to diversify by becoming a more knowledge-based economy focusing on education, healthcare, tourism and transportation. My job is to help businesses and countries transform so they are less dependent on oil and focus more on the sustainable, renewable sources of growth and income.

You mentioned the need to diversify. What are the growth areas you are seeing?

Qatar is one of the richest countries in the world for GDP per capita, but also one of the smallest in terms of population. As an example of the commitment to diversification, the Qatar foundation was created in 1995, funded by the government to the tune of $15B per year. Businesses are looking to build an educational hub in the Middle East and research solutions to key challenges like renewable energy and water desalination. Cisco Services is helping these businesses adapt, build, and transform, and that’s my focus.

How is Cisco technology helping accelerate these industries to realise their vision?

The Qatar National Vision 2030 builds a bridge between the present and the future. It envisages a vibrant and prosperous country in which there is economic and social justice for all, and in which nature and man are in harmony. It also highlights that Qatar must invest in world-class infrastructure to create a dynamic and more diversified economy in which the private sector plays a prominent role. On that basis and realising the importance of having a world-class infrastructure, the Qatar foundation uses Cisco technology for its research network and collaboration.

Another great example is how we’re enabling healthcare. As the region is largely dispersed, getting specialist treatment in remote areas is a challenge. Through our healthcare collaboration systems, we can get specialist support from around the world to these locations instantly.

In your opinion, what’s the biggest challenge for the region as a whole that potentially will limit the ability to see this 2030 vision?

Our dependency and GDP are based on oil revenues and are affected by the economies of the consuming nations. When oil prices dip, it impacts our economy. This creates uncertainty, and projects stall because the government cannot predict when revenues will stabilise.

So collaboration is a big part of how they are achieving this vision?

Transformation is enabled through collaboration. Video is becoming an important part of daily life in a way that empowers people to do things differently and work together effectively.

How can collaboration have an impact on a business?

In the automotive industry, when you place an order for a car, you might receive it on average 42 days later.  The delay is not the manufacturer but the supply chain. Cars are built by many different suppliers across the globe. One misunderstanding could have catastrophic consequences.  Collaboration technology brings people together to share information and work effectively. If you reduce that 42 days by just 2, the savings are enormous as you drive efficiency and productivity, getting to market quicker.

What’s key to the success of a collaboration deployment?

Simply put, it’s down to people, process, and technology. People are key: they will decide whether to use technology or not. First impressions last, so even having the best, most expensive solution in the world is no good if the first user experience is poor. So having change management and adoption resource is vital as well as making sure the approach is led from the executive board.

What other challenges does the region face?

Most businesses view long-term growth as the way to realise the vision and create sustainability. For example, I have been working with a service provider in the region, and we have been discussing with them how Cisco Services can help them increase their annual revenue over the next 5 years by diversifying. Through market analysis we were able to show how they could build a profitable business. We did a top down analysis, supplemented and cross referenced with a bottom up approach.  In essence the customer experienced real business value from Cisco Services through identified growth opportunities and additional revenue streams.

What do your customers want from Cisco Services?

Customers tell me that Cisco Services provide a global perspective with global knowledge, positive assurances, and unrivalled expertise. Customers look for references outside of the region that provide this evidence. It’s fair to say that Cisco Services know Cisco better than anyone else. My customers also want assurances on time to resolution; risk mitigation; and a suitable, fully qualified partner who can add value to other areas of their business.

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