Baker Tilly ME’s CEO joins panel of judges at Middle East Technology Excellence Awards
Dr. Swamy Pentyala talks about how businesses can keep up with digital transformation.
As the CEO of Infotech Solutions & Technology Practice Leader at Baker Tilly ME, Dr. Swamy Pentyala is passionate about consistent customer value delivery and a strong advocate of business transformation through purpose-built industry-specific digital platforms.
He has been the driving force behind the digital assets of Baker Tilly Infotech for TravelTech, TaxTech, HealthTech, and AgriTech Digital Platforms that have proven to deliver mass-scale transformation consistently across industries and governments with remarkable success all across.
Dr. Swamy is a thought leader and a strong advocate of systems of engagement and innovation to develop sustainable technology adoption through pre-built digital platforms. He possesses an uncanny knack for winning customer confidence to create common conviction across the board; whilst effectively marshaling the resources in order to ensure thorough participation and effective collaboration.
Moreover, Dr. Swamy also possesses invaluable domain expertise across the Public sector, Logistics, Free zones, investment authorities, corporate shared services, Retail, Ports, Property, Travel & Hospitality, Healthcare, Agriculture, and allied sectors. Thanks to his over 22 years of industry experience.
As one of the judges at the inaugural Middle East Technology Excellence Awards, Asian Business Review took the opportunity to speak with Dr. Swamy regarding the current technological trends in the Middle East and how businesses can keep up with the fast-paced adoption of digitalisation.
What are the upcoming tech trends that you can see Middle Eastern businesses benefit from the most?
The Middle East can benefit greatly from Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML), Data Science, Computer vision, and Blockchain. AI/ML can improve efficiency and avoid human errors in areas like logistics and trade, tourism, private and public transportation, aviation, and construction industries, and optimization of all Public Infrastructure. It improves service efficiencies a great deal and can have a great economic impact.
Computer vision can dramatically revolutionise business processes in many areas, such as traffic management, healthcare, retail industry, banking, surveillance, quality assurance, food safety, etc.
Blockchain can play a big role in logistics, trade, and trade financing, —both being important industries of the Middle East because of its strategic location between Asia and the rest of the world.
What is your advice to businesses in the region when it comes to keeping abreast with the latest technological solutions?
Businesses, big and small, should look for opportunities to partner with technology providers in developing innovative platforms and solutions. They should understand that this move has a lot of incentives, rather than dealing with it as a client-vendor relationship. This requires a tremendous shift in the thought process of business owners and their think tanks. Technology-enabled businesses thrive best, and it was proven emphatically during the ongoing pandemic situation. Moreover, Middle East businessmen are known to be venturesome entrepreneurs with huge risk appetites. You come across many big entrepreneurs in the Physical Real Estate sector, which is a huge risk as the capacity is limited. If they realize that the Digital Platform business is like Digital RealEstate with unlimited capacity and global scalability opportunities. More importantly, they also have access to quality IT Professionals by virtue of their geographical proximity and generations-old trade ties. It is high time for the Middle East businesses to consider establishing Digital RealEstate of their own, much like their passion for Physical RealEstate.
Businesses should partner with technology companies in developing innovative Digital Platforms for the industry problems they have been dealing with, and then market them to other companies in the same line of business that are still dealing with similar industry problems. Together with their Technology partner, they can create a joint market strategy. We must move away from the client-vendor mindset. Amazon is one such case where a bookseller transformed into the world’s largest cloud service provider. It is all there for us to see; but are we seeing it? Each and every sizable business has this opportunity. Are we seeing beyond? As I mentioned, this requires a tremendous mind shift.
How has the pandemic affected the tech industry in the region?
Well, everything has to be digital now. This requires sound and solid systems and digital presence in order to be competitive. It can adversely affect the outcomes if the business transformation was not planned and executed well. Organizations have to be nimble and agile more than ever to increase the topline and bottomline with an ever-increasing dependence on technology as the single largest enabler. But the quality of the service providers and the cost versus quality conundrum will largely influence the outcome. You can not buy a Range Rover at half the cost, it is time for the businesses to understand the need for investing the right amounts in the right technology and in the right partners. More importantly, it is time for businesses to adapt proven Digital Platforms rather than going by the big names in the Tech World. Digital Platforms ensures Tangible Transformation and delivers rapid results. If you have a proven Digital Platform in your domain, then why waste time and money.
What is your favourite memory/experience in working with people from the Middle East?
I have a lot of fond memories, but the warmth and friendly demeanor of the people here is on top of my list. They are very affable, quick learners, adventurous, and with a keen eye on business growth. I have had the opportunity to work with some of the most influential and intelligent leaders in this region. I have learnt a lot from here. Their simplicity and straightforwardness make it easier to work with them. More importantly, the ability to influence the best outcomes is a lot easier here if you can present your case well, than in any other region across the world.
How has the Middle East tech industry developed in the past few years? Where do you see technology in the Middle East in the next decade?
The Middle East is emerging into a tech-innovation market. They have a huge localization dividend to cater to the sizable Arabic-speaking population and culture across the globe. Some of the bright minds have realized that. As you know, technology is just a tool with unlimited potential. It needs to be applied intelligently to cater to your local culture and language preferences. There lies the huge opportunity for the local firms to deliver something strongly bonded into the local culture catering to the local context rather than trying to imitate and adapt to the global tech platforms.
Many experts are espousing digital transformation as the key action that will keep businesses afloat during and after the pandemic. But is there a possibility that it can also be a hindrance—much less an added problem—to their survival and progress?
As mentioned earlier, digital transformation should not be seen as a technology revamp. It is indeed an overall business transformation, the whole new way of conducting your day-to-day operations affecting everyone in the company and how you are impressing your customer to stay with you forever. It requires very deep and meticulous planning and selection of the right technology, right people, and right partners to get the intended outcomes delivered and sustained.
Business transformation is like brain surgery. You must identify the right partner, who can ensure your success knowing fully well how much time and effort you have invested building the business, thus far. The key to success here is to have the RIGHT PARTNER, not another technology vendor, who is as passionate as you are and has a sizable dividend in your success, and is ready to put their skin in the game as well. Proven industry-specific Digital Platforms, specifically one-stop-shop platforms, mitigates most of the risks and makes transformation tangible. Further, these platforms should provide built-in real-time governance tools, not just analytical dashboards to manage, monitor, control, and optimize the men, material, and resources as you are going through the transformation. Nevertheless, change management has a bigger role than ever. So having sound proven comprehensive business transformation platforms with real-time governance tools that can even help you measure the change management effectiveness are the most critical success factors. Otherwise, you are going to have a lot of failures in digital transformation initiatives and the age-old blame game we have been seeing for generations.
What key factors are you looking for when judging who should win?
Ease of use and adoption—how well the complexity of technology is masked and made to empower the customer in the most simplistic manner, environmental impact, value delivery, sustainability, and enrichment. It is all about what is the impact you are delivering and how scalable, robust, and sound is the innovation and its application across the world.