R&D, partnerships, upskilling essential to drive innovation and competitive advantage: BDO, UAE's Madan Mohan | Asian Business Review

R&D, partnerships, upskilling essential to drive innovation and competitive advantage: BDO, UAE's Madan Mohan

BDO, UAE’s Madan Mohan discussed several ways that organisations can enhance data protection in the Middle East, as well as how they can stay ahead of emerging trends.

The Middle East is experiencing unprecedented technological advancements, propelling the region to the forefront of innovation and digital transformation. In the midst of this technological revolution, visionary leaders are emerging to shape the landscape of innovation and digital transformation.

Amongst the top leaders in the industry is Madan Mohan, the Director of Technology Advisory Services at BDO, UAE, who has an impressive profile and a wealth of experience spanning over 19 years. Mohan's journey in the technology industry is marked by numerous accolades and accomplishments. His skill set encompasses diverse sectors, including banking, insurance, telecommunications, and manufacturing, in the functions of data privacy, business continuity management, information security governance, and risk assessment.

Mohan has also given insightful guidance and strategic vision to organisations' boards, C-suite executives, and cross-functional teams. His contributions to enhancing IT security landscapes and safeguarding digital assets earned him accolades such as the Top 50 CISO awards, the Top 200 CIO, and the Top 100 CISO awards.

Within the realm of data protection and cybersecurity assessments, Mohan has spearheaded numerous transformative projects, enabling him to identify robust security measures tailored to the unique needs of clients. He has successfully delivered data privacy initiatives as well, in line with GDPR, DIFC, and ADGM privacy laws, for multiple clients. Mohan likewise has experience in IT internal audits, process analysis, documentation, and testing, amongst others. His leadership has also encompassed information security, IT general controls, infrastructure audits, user access management, and change management.

Utilise emerging tech, stay ahead of threats

Given Mohan’s experience, he acknowledged that there are several challenges faced by the Middle East, particularly when it comes to data privacy, business continuity management, and information security governance.

He noted that many organisations do not have adequate resources to invest or measures pertaining to the said areas, making it difficult for them to protect themselves from risks. They also have trouble keeping up with the evolving regulatory landscape, which Mohan describes as “complex, particularly for organisations operating across multiple jurisdictions.” Additionally, cyber threats such as ransomware attacks, data breaches, and other advanced threats are evolving, so companies constantly have to implement effective controls and stay ahead.

Despite many challenges, there are a number of things that organisations in the Middle East can do to improve their data privacy, business continuity, and information security posture. Amongst these are raising awareness about the risks involved through training and education, staying up-to-date on the latest regulations in the said areas, and allocating enough budget and resources to ensure protection from risks.

Mohan pointed out that amidst the many emerging technologies, AI, AR, cloud computing, blockchain, RPA, and cybersecurity solutions are making a significant impact on the tech landscape of the region. For him, organisations can better make use of these technologies by investing in further research and development to stay ahead of the curve, partnering with other organisations to gain access to new tech and expertise, and upskilling or reskilling the workforce to ensure they have the necessary skills and knowledge.

Balancing innovation and security

With the rapid pace at which innovation in technology is moving today, organisations still have to ensure that safeguards are in place to protect them from risks.

“Striking the right balance between innovation and security is indeed crucial for organisations in today's rapidly advancing technological landscape. Whilst innovation drives progress and competitiveness, it's important to ensure that adequate safeguards are in place to protect sensitive information and mitigate potential risks,” Mohan said.

The BDO, UAE Director explained that there are several strategies to foster a culture of innovation whilst maintaining security.

Amongst these strategies is conducting regular risk assessments to identify the vulnerabilities of innovative projects, allowing organisations to proactively address concerns and implement safeguards. Another way would be to implement a multi-layered security approach that combines various technical controls (firewalls, encryption, etc.) and organisational policies and procedures.

Mohan also highlighted the need to educate employees about security risks and ways to protect themselves, develop clear policies and guidelines on security requirements or expectations for projects, and engage external security experts or conduct third-party security assessments.

To stay ahead of emerging tech trends and leverage them for sustainable growth and competitive advantage, organisations may work with tech partners, startups, research institutions, and industry networks. Through these partnerships, they can access expertise, share knowledge, and stay at the forefront of innovation. Mohan then reiterated the importance of research and development, as well as looking into the long term to see how organisations can use technology to drive growth and competitive advantage.

As a judge at the Middle East Technology Excellence Awards, Mohan is looking for nominees who prioritise customer needs and deliver solutions to enhance customer experience and satisfaction. He also looks for nominees who are innovative, collaborative and have demonstrated thought leadership or exerted a positive influence on the industry.

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