In terms of technology, the epidemic has pushed us forward a half-decade, and there’s no turning back now.
At the Gulf Information Technology Exhibition in Dubai this week, the future has never felt closer.
Even before the doors of the Dubai World Trade Centre officially opened, the exhibition halls were bustling with participants exchanging ideas and contacts.
Even with everyone wearing masks, the atmosphere of excitement was apparent, since most exhibitors had not seen crowds of this size in almost 18 months.
“People are hungry to see each other once more,” said Rasheed Al-Omari, a business solutions strategist for US cloud computing company VMware.
We shall never return to our previous state.
VMware’s Rasheed Al-Omari
He has attended Gitex for the past 25 years, with the exception of last year, when he was unable to go due to Covid issues.
“Everybody’s excited, everybody’s back. Mr Al-Omari stated, “We’ve seen some measures here and there, but at the end of the day, people are so thrilled to be here.”
Mohammed Al-Khotani works at Sitecore, a software firm that allows websites to offer personalised suggestions to their visitors. Throughout his career, he has visited Gitex every year.
“I think it’s an opportunity – yes Covid taught us to do things virtually, but we are social beings, we like to talk to people, have a coffee, discuss what’s the latest,” said Mr Al-Khotani
A permanent shift in perspective
While everyone liked meeting up in person at Gitex, everyone agreed that virtual meetings were here to stay.
This is because the epidemic has encouraged us to change how we meet, according to Mr Al-Omari.
“Interestingly enough, psychologically, if you see someone that you haven’t ever seen in person, and you’ve been seeing them for few months, over Zoom or Teams, now you can’t tell the difference between whether you’ve actually seen them before physically or not,” he said
Staff and customer recruiting have also changed dramatically as a result of Covid-19.
“We will never go back to the way we were before, because many companies have discovered that they can hire a lot of very good talent, that are not necessarily physically located in the normal places,” said Mr Al-Omari.
“More significantly, clients are beginning to embrace a scattered workforce.”
“I recall when consumers had to see personnel in their offices before they would consider doing business with them. With the epidemic, we’ve noticed a lot more consumers that are willing to conduct business remotely.”
Opportunities were generated by Covid.
While other industries struggled during the epidemic, software and cloud computing service providers witnessed a surge in demand for their products.
The epidemic crystallised a demand for their services, making 2020 a banner year for many.
“People wanted to utilise their time when businesses was a bit slow during the pandemic, to drive their digital transformation, and it become a priority,” said Monzer Tohme, a sales director for the software provider, Infor, which provides business applications via the cloud.
“It’s no longer, I have a plan for the coming three to five years. That plan has been shortened, and they’ve made sure to get started as soon as possible.
The octopus technology
Technology can no longer be classified as a separate business; digital tendrils have infiltrated every industry, and the pandemic has further exacerbated this tendency.
According to Mr. Tohme, simply being local is no longer an option since businesses cannot thrive.
“Today they don’t have the option of not being online, whether they’re selling or servicing their customers,” he said
“Some of our clients have taken the full-fledged digital transformation journey, some went with one part of the business to test the ground
“Today I can easily say the highest percentage of customers are keen on moving, partially or completely to the cloud.”
According to Sitecore’s Mr. Al-Khotani, the wide range of visitors at Gitex demonstrated this tendency.
“This is a great platform, not only for technology people, but what I noticed this year is we have visitors from marketing, finance and communication,” he said.
“We have visitors from Europe, South Africa, Kenya and Russia – I’ve seen a lot of people coming from all over the world.”