How automation is driving changes in workplaces?

Martin Roll, a leading Business & Brand Strategist

The private sector can become a positive force of change through competition and innovation. TRENDS talks to Martin Roll, a top-notch Business & Brand Strategist, on why It is critical for businesses to develop products that redefine their category, delighting customers with the unexpected, thereby cementing emotional bonds.

Roll will be participating in the upcoming Top CEO Conference & Awards, which will be held at the King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia, on April 10 and 11.

GCC region is home of many ongoing mega-projects. Which fundamental changes should be made to ensure a successful execution of these mega-projects?

In order to be successful, business and project leaders need to constantly be aware of who their stakeholders are, what their needs are, and how to meet them. History has shown how many businesses or projects have failed simply because leaders do not stay close to the pulse of their customers or their core impact stakeholders. Conversely, the top performing businesses and most successful projects have proven to always stay on top of and consistently exceed their customers’ or stakeholders’ expectations. GCC mega-projects should make sure they are sufficiently grounded in sound business models with solid stakeholder support and a long-term lens,

Businesses are evolving at a rapid pace in the region and it is making many traditional jobs and corporations redundant. How you look at this ongoing transition?

The impact of digital is always going to be a debate but I choose to believe that the digital evolution will have a positive impact on the global economy incl. developments across GCC. The phenomena of automation, artificial intelligence and analytics are driving fundamental changes in the workplace. As a result, business leaders need to proactively analyze the impact of such digital trends on their business models and ensure that their workforce is constantly trained and up skilled to perform value-adding work vis-à-vis mundane work. Business leaders need to stay very agile and be embrace change.

There are transformations aiming to liberalize economies in the GCC through privatization and opening up of economy. Amidst all this, how can the private sector create a positive force of change in the society?

The private sector can become a positive force of change through competition and innovation. It is critical for businesses to develop products that redefine their category, delighting customers with the unexpected, thereby cementing emotional bonds. The biggest mistake of successful companies is complacency and stagnancy – private sector organizations should always see themselves as their biggest competitor and continue to drive change. Building successful countries and economies are public-private partnerships so they need to work in tandem.

Startups and entrepreneurs are facing the problem of limited venture capitalists that are ready to commit to new ideas. What is your take on this?

I think that venture capitalists and the capital aimed at entrepreneurship in general do have the appetite for new and innovative ideas. However, they are looking for a clear promise that needs to be backed by a strong operational system to bring confidence that the promise can be fulfilled with a very solid founder and management team in place. That is a challenge and something that many startups and entrepreneurs fail to convey in their initial pitches and ideas. That is where refinement of ideas come in and where founders need to ensure the quality and leadership. Being an entrepreneur does not make you entitled to anything – you need to prove it.

What role Fourth Industrial Revolution and concepts like blockchain, augmented reality and other new technologies could play in the transformation of public services sector?

Technology innovation continues to transform and redefine the IT and business capabilities of the public services sector. Governmental organizations will need to look beyond one-off technology implementations, but instead re-examine how these disruptive technologies can work together in harmony to deliver greater results and impact to society in order to deliver a better quality of life to its citizens. It requires governments to rethink how they do things, and they need to be willing to change from the old models. The new technology world is driving in the fast lane, so governments better stay agile.

 How you look at the ongoing women empowerment drive in the region?

The many global initiatives to drive awareness and empowerment of women is indeed a positive step towards much-needed change in the current era. In today’s workplace, both men and women need to be fairly rewarded in order to make a difference. However, creating awareness of the problem is merely the first step; the second challenge would be to define specific objectives and realize the change. GCC still has a long way to go but recent events suggest that more women will come into the workplace, bring economic development and add diversity in so aspects of society and business/

 Do you feel restructuring businesses in the Gulf and the Middle East has always been a challenge?

Business restructuring is generally a challenge whether in the Gulf and Middle East or elsewhere, because it involves transitioning employees into different roles or even outside of the organization. It is also about succession in many family owned businesses, and the numerous challenges that follow from that. In such situations, true success often hinges on how effectively the most important intangible assets of a brand – its people – assimilate. On top of that, the political and economic environment of a country also contributes to the challenge of restructuring.

 Are GCC’s public and private enterprises prepared enough to defend them against any probable cyber-attack or will they be the weak link that falls first?

No organization worldwide is immune to cyber-attack, and generally the global world is not very equipped to meet the real challenges. It starts with the mindset of business owners and governments whom need to upgrade capabilities, empower organizations to step up, and make sure the right resources are behind the initiatives. Cyber-attacks may well be the biggest threat to global peace, stability and prosperity regardless of where the business is based or the country is placed. Cyber-attacks should be countered with determination and with full force – also in the GCC.