Posted by: Ashith Piriyattiath Category: Education, IT Solutions Comments: 0

Digital transformation initiatives in Middle East are well underway with government initiatives providing the necessary momentum. Businesses are embracing digital transformation to remain competitive and take advantage of modern technologies to solve business challenges.

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the region into a digital-first economy where new digital habits are reshaping consumer behavior. Consequently, end-user organizations are taking a digital-first approach to products, services, customer and employee experiences, and operations. These organizations are accelerating the digital journey to not just to navigate economic and geo-political uncertainties but also to innovate, expand and thrive in the future.

According to the latest forecast from IDC digital transformation investments in the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa (META) are set to double across the 2020-25 period. The global technology research firm says that digital transformation spending in the region will accelerate at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.6% over the five-year period, topping $58 billion in 2025 and accounting for 40% of all ICT investments made that year.

Amongst the countries in Middle East, the UAE is ahead of other of the pack. The UAE has been ranked among the world’s best countries government digital transformation in World Bank’s GovTech’s Maturity Index 2021 that mea- sures maturity levels of digital transformation and reliance on modern technology in government. The UAE Vision 2021 is built around digitalisation and transformation, focusing on transitioning the UAE into a knowledge economy.

Seeing the market opportunity, GuardianOne launched operations to enable businesses achieve digital transformation. Guided by a vision to deliver service excellence in IT services and consultancy, the company has firmly established itself in Dubai and the MENA region as the preferred Indian High school – Dubai, Greensprings School, Nigeria, Johnny Rockets, Glucare Integrated Diabetes Center, Al Yousuf Group and Century Express.

Today with more than 138 customers under its belt, GuardianOne is set to dominate the IT services market in Middle East fueled by the digital transformation initiatives, Cloud adoption frenzy and the imperative to harness the power of data spewed by digital and fanned by the winds of Cloud-enabled data analytics.

Rise of a Disruptive Service Provider

Underlined by a philosophy of customer obsession, GuardianOne was born out of a desire to help businesses leverage technology to achieve strategic goals. It has come with years of experience wherein as the internal IT division of a large private equity firm in the region it had transformed operations of number of holding companies.

“We have implemented a wide range of different digital transformation tools within our company prior to giving support to thirdparty customers. We started Guardian One by transforming a bigger group’s internal IT division into a profit center.” Ashith Piriyattiah, CEO and Co-founder of GuardianOne.

With more than 10 years of rich experience in managing different domains including banking and financial sector, non-banking financial sector, education sector having 50+ schools and education institutions, healthcare sectors with 50+ clinics and healthcare facilities, food and beverages sector having premium brands like Jhonny Rockets and logistics industry comprising courier companies, logistics companies, school transportation, GuardianOne understands in-depth business understanding of different verticals and combined with its technical expertise, the company has experienced unparalleled success in the region.

Knowing and understanding the customer and translating customer’s needs into a practical technology solution requires skill and expertise. What’s more it must be honed by experience which GuardianOne had amassed servicing internal customers.

“Being on the customer side, this aided us in comprehending the possibilities and difficulties of initiatives including digital transformation. With this extensive experience, we are keeping this on the table because we are aware of what customers demand from digital transformation initiatives,” says Ashith P the founder and CIO of the company.

According to McKinsey, 70% of digital transformation initiatives fail due to a variety of reasons such as lack of transformational goal, absence of change management strategy, lack of a shared vision, etc. Too often companies embark on a transformation initiative as a reaction to competition instead of figuring out what digital capabilities will benefit the business.

Having extensive experience in helping companies realize the benefits of digital transformation GuardianOne knows the pitfalls of an unplanned digital transformation initiative and has a service line in Consulting for Digital Transformation to examine business requirements and strategic goals, and then mapping and designing a digital transformation strategy aligned with the company’s needs.

Says Ashith P. “We have a solid pool of knowledgeable, competent personnel, alliances with top suppliers, and products in the relevant categories. We manage pre-project consultations and design the architecture per our client’s needs.”

Speaking about the digital transformation, Ashith P. says, “The phrase “digital transformation” has become quite popular in the last ten years. It began with cloud computing and has since evolved to include blockchain, AI, ML, IoT, robots, AR&VR, and, most recently, metaverse concepts. Early, cloud computing adoption was referred to as a “digital transformation project,” but subsequently, cloud computing became the foundation for digital transformation in conjunction with other developing technologies. I believe digital transformation technologies have yet to prove their maturity or utilization to their fullest.”

Merely adopting technology does not deliver transformational impact. For example, one of the things that GuardianOne brings to the table is a learning that using digital technology to achieve strategic differentiation on customer engagement and innovation rather than cost efficiencies is more likely to be successful.

IDC calls this a digital-first approach, a new relationship between business and technology wherein C-level executives no longer see IT as merely an enabler to decisions that have already been made. Instead, ongoing conversations are about how technology can create and expand strategic options and business executives look to technology leaders to understand how digital can better deliver business outcomes. IDC says that 91% of organizations in Asia/Pacific including Japan (APJ) have adopted a digital-first strategy to transform themselves into digital businesses.

How GuardianOne is Winning Customers

GuardianOne is always batting for the customers and this reputation has enabled the company to have a solid footing in the market. GuardianOne’s legacy as an internal IT service provider for its Group companies lends credence as an entity that has ‘been there and done that’.

“By the time Guardian One was started, the group had already begun several digital transformation projects, and we had acquired experience across all of our business domains,” says the CIO of Regus Capital and Future Capital, Ashith P. The confidence the IT team acquired in implementing large scale digital transformation which created business impact and turned the IT into a profitable business propelled the business vision of the company to become an independent entity and service external customers as well.

“My exposure to technology and the business side is developing hand in hand as the CEO of Guardian One Technologies and the group CIO of Regulus Capital and Future Capital. Our internal businesses served as the initial testing grounds so I could be persuaded of the outcomes, advantages, and ROI. Before offering any solutions to our consumers, I ensure I am convinced.”

The external market conditions provided fertile ground for the uptake of GuardianOne’s offerings. The UAE’s eagerness to become the leading force in digital transformation in the region has accelerated digitization across both government and private sectors. Yet nearly half of government and large enterprises across the Middle East are battling to deliver on digital transformation journeys due to a lack of business and technology skills to support their innovation plans.

Guardian One offers its own CLOUD services. It has its own CLOUD data centers in Dubai and Singapore. Singapore CLOUD Datacenter is one of the biggest one with almost 11k Sqft.

In recent times hyperscalers have ramped up presence in Middle East including AWS, Google and Microsoft setting up datacenters in the region. According to an IDC report, 49% of CIOs across the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa believe that cloud adoption will greatly influence their plans to drive innovation and create new digital products, business models, and revenue streams over the next 12-18 months.

Another focus area of GuardianOne is cyber security with technology alliances with 1Kosmos, SecureEnds, Heimdal and ZK Teco for comprehensive security architecture provisions. Cyber security incidents in Middle East has been rising in recent times as in other parts of the world. A recent Cybereason report found that 77% of UAE organizations suffered at least one ransomware attack over the past 24 months. The study found that 90% of UAE organizations that paid for ransomware were hit by a second time, and 78% of those reported that threat actors demanded a higher ransom amount.

GuardianOne offers advanced security services including designing network architecture, end point control and security, enterprise security manned by a team of security professionals from a Security operations Center (SOC) who detect, identify and troubleshoot cyber security issues.

Looking Ahead

GuardianOne has a close ear to the ground and has identified its growth areas as advanced digital transformation with improved cyber security solutions. “Since 2021, we have put more of our attention into offering the appropriate security solutions needed for activities related to digital transformation,” says Ashith P.

Among advanced solution exploring metaverse, especially in education, healthcare, and retail will be a key focus area. “We have previously developed a solution for the education sector so students can complete their school laboratory practicals in their homes using AR and VR,” says Ashith P.

“We have realized the importance of digitizing marketing strategy, and hence we have started a separate division of the digital marketing team to better serve all of our customers in the MENA region with Digital marketing services.” A large focus area of the company in 2023 will be to help SMEs manage and maintain the aging infrastructure, which is essential to operations. At the same time, the company also plans to provide affordable solutions to startups and empower with cutting-edge solutions.

GuardianOne is clear that it wants to partner businesses in its digital transformation journey in every possible way, “Whether enabling digital transformation or managing legacy systems or empowering with digital marketing solutions, we want to be the all-encompassing solution supplier. In light of this, we have developed 360- degree solutions for healthcare and education sectors, termed healthcare 360 and school 360, respectively,” says Ashith P.

On a personal level, Ashith P is a dynamic and vibrant personality—always on-the-go and with a generous heart. Having spent more than 20 years in the industry, Ashith P has a dream of giving back to the community. When Whatsapp announced its change in terms of use by sharing users’ data, the idea of ‘My Data My Right’ began to take hold. “Every person’s data is their personal property, but it is being gathered or stolen through mobile devices, the internet, and is shared or falsely portrayed covertly. MDMR is a social cause movement and through this vehicle, we are educating the public on safe and secure ways to utilize the devices, personal information, movements, and other activities,” says Ashith P.

As businesses across the META region increasingly embrace new approaches to business by leveraging advanced technologies to drive innovation, transform the products, and facilitate critical business outcomes, there is an urgency to prioritize investments in technology capabilities such as application re-platforming, cloud migrations, security data architectures, and business process automation to support business priorities and resiliency imperatives.

The UAE government recently signed a deal with a host of technology giants to train 100,000 young people in computer programming, create 1,000 digital companies to boost the Emirati economy and increase government support for start-ups from US$0.41billion to US$1billion.

With accelerated digital transformation momentum in the region, GuardianOne is nicely positioned to ride the boom times of enabling disruptive transformation amongst businesses and government agencies in the Middle East.

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