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Business Transformation: Youssef Fawaz

Few industries are as fast-moving as technology. Youssef Fawaz, General Manager of Al Rostamani Communications, a leading IT and telecommunication solutions provider and systems integrator, has had a front-row seat to this rapidly changing sector since beginning his career almost 25 years ago.

“I started out as a software developer and then moved on to a range of roles until I reached a senior leadership role 10 years ago. Four years ago, I joined Al Rostamani Communications as General Manager to grow its businesses,” Youssef says.

“We started out in 1996 as part of a group company before being incorporated as Al Rostamani Communications in 2001. Before long, we joined with leading technology providers and expanded our IT and telecom services portfolio so we could cater to a growing client base across various verticals. It was this and our excellent relationships with clients that consolidated our growth within the region.”

Staying on top of countless technological changes at the same time as understanding the needs of different customers is no small task. Technology has moved far beyond a nice-to-have tool to one that is essential for helping firms achieve their objectives.

“Flexibility is crucial,” Youssef says. “Without innovation, we would still be using 20-year-old technology.” But he is quick to point out that the company has focused heavily not just on the services it provides but also on the people it entrusts with delivering these services.

“Culture and environment are what makes the difference. We spend more time at work than at home so if you’re enjoying who you work with and the culture that surrounds you, it means it’s the best place to work,” Youssef says. “Quality skills training and long-term retention of employees are of paramount importance to us with investments made on an ongoing basis to keep them up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies.

“Commitment, care and vision are three key attributes of the group and are part of our DNA. The group has been here for the past 60 years and has a vision for the next 50 already. This company will not just come and go: we’re here for the long-term!”

By focusing on providing the tools to embark on a successful business transformation, Youssef believes Al Rostamani Communications will dramatically improve operations. Implementing the right mix of technology is one step in the journey towards creating an innovative enterprise; having the right people in place is also of vital importance, he says.

“The technology may be there but you need to have the right people in order to introduce it.”

“The main challenge is to find the right talent and to maintain the best staff within the organisation. The technology may be there but you need to have the right people in order to introduce it. Today, the only way to ensure this is to keep investing in your people because they are the most important assets for any company,” he says.

One of Youssef’s main achievements as General Manager of Al Rostamani Communications, has been gaining the trust and acceptance of his team. “Trust comes first and everything else follows,” he explains. “I like the leading by kindness strategy so that people respect you, not fear you. If your team respects you, they will work and be happy and give their maximum. But if they fear you, you kill their innovation.”

The company has even implemented a Happiness Programme for employees. The survey, which can be undertaken monthly or quarterly, helps provide clarity on what’s going well and what can be improved on.

“We can never be perfect because there’s always room for improvement,” Youssef says.

“But we can always try to keep the culture and level of enjoyment of the company at a certain level in order to keep motivation high.”

But it’s working with innovative technology that is Youssef’s real passion. “On a personal level, I’ve always been interested in learning about new technology and gadgets. It’s inspiring in our business because we always have something new to keep working on – this is the future.

That’s why I chose this area from the beginning because technology keeps on changing,” he says.

On the business side, Youssef has led growth, tackled new verticals and successfully transformed the business.

Looking forward, he considers the launch of 5G, artificial intelligence and the continuing growth of the Internet of Things, alongside business transformation, to be the most interesting technologies of the future.

“The end goal of these innovative technologies is having interconnected networks that can share data with each other. Based on the data being gathered, firms can automate processes and make decisions,” Youseff says.

Preventive maintenance can be performed using insights from data that shows when a machine will be at fault and enterprises can proactively fix the issue in a timely manner, rather than waiting until it becomes a problem, he adds.

From a connectivity perspective, 5G offers very high bandwidth and broad coverage. As the bandwidth continues to grow, firms can expect to start seeing more interactions happening within the internet, including high-quality videos and multimedia, as well as virtual reality.

“5G will also facilitate IoT because it needs to have strong coverage and network. Today, one of the things 5G will enable is the ability for IoT devices to talk to each other in coordination within the network. The 5G and artificial intelligence; they’re what keep me excited. The launch of 5G kicked off a lot of new innovations,” Youssef says.

Few areas of business are expected to be left untouched by AI either. Although major market players like Google and Amazon are investing strongly in this area, all types of firms have the capacity to embrace the power of AI.

“AI algorithms can predict what customers might request and map out buying trends,” Youssef explains. “We’ll start seeing artificial intelligence in other areas, like medicine, advanced research and analysing customer behaviour – the opportunities are endless.”

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