This is now the 8th edition of this conference, what are your initial thoughts about how it’s going so far?

It’s been phenomenal – I think it shows it’s the right time; we’ve got the right team for this year’s event. We’ve seen a strong focus in alignment between IT and business so I think this theme for this event couldn’t have come at a better time. It’s a great opportunity for over 300 CIO’s from across the region to interact, share perspectives and to understand and hear from their peers in terms of alignment and the broader impact of digital transformation.

From the initial speeches and forums so far, it appears highlighting the importance of 3rd Platform technologies is a central theme at this year’s conference. What are IDC’s thoughts about how 3rd platform is being implemented across the region?

The 3rd platform is essentially built on the four forces of transformation – the cloud, analytics, mobile and social, with cloud and mobility leading those forces in terms of uptake within the region, for the simple reason that from the cloud side, organizations are seeing an opportunity to leverage technology to better utilize infrastructure in order to scale up or scale down depending on business departments, there’s a lot more flexible and agile infrastructure, finance officers love it as it’s pay as you go.

On the mobility side we’re seeing an explosion, not just on the device side, but also in terms of enterprise applications, like ERP, CRM, expense management and so on. We’re seeing the mobilization of applications beyond email, that’s also a big trend. On the device side, with the explosion of devices the big challenge the CIO’s have is there are different device trends that are happening. There are different devices with different operating systems, whereby CIO’s are forced to integrate them with the existing infrastructure, which come with their own security concerns.

The third area that is seeing rapid growth is the analytics, with significant investments in items such as dashboards and predictive analytics. Where social is concerned we’ve certainly seen the consumerization trend, but enterprises and the business sector haven’t really adopted social in a big way. Part of it is cultural, part of it is the organizations grappling with how do define what value we’re getting from social, that’s the trend we think will come up, but certainly the general adoption of 3rd platforms, we think, has been good.

This is the first of eight events, which will be taking place across the Middle East and African regions, ending in Riyadh in September. Bearing in mind that not all economies or markets are equal how will you be tailoring your conferences to suit the various events?

Each market is very different – for example we’ll be hosting our next conference in South Africa in March where the focus will be more on mobility, due to the general state of the country’s infrastructure. There will be less focus on cloud and more focus on digital transformation, reflecting the state of many companies who are currently in that process. The South African event will also tend to be more pan-African focused due to the demand for many companies who are based there and have a continental strategy.

When we move to markets such as Turkey, there’s a greater focus around consumer, cloud computing, and to an extent, some of the trends can compare to what we’re seeing in Europe so that again adds a new dimension to how we approach our conferences. Moving to Sub-Saharan conferences such as Nigeria or Kenya, we’re addressing infrastructure and skill concerns, whereas in Francophone Africa, there’s a stronger focus on mobility and around cloud. You can see a different focus in terms of how the governments are leading their countries, so depending on the region we certainly have a general theme, but we try to localize each event to suit its respective environments.

There’ve been some great speakers at this particular event – are there any highlights for you?

It’s great – Crawford’s [Del Prete] presentation was very good, I felt it set the scene for this event. I’m very much looking forward to Frank Gens, where he’ll talk about his top predictions for the market. I’m also looking forward to the CFO panel as it’s one of the first times we’ve placed a CIO and CFO on the same panel which will open up an interesting conversation about how these two functions can effectively cooperate.