BCG Middle East CEO forum discusses business disruption in the digital age

30 April 2019 3 min. read
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BCG has hosted its annual Middle East CEO Forum, with this year’s focus on identifying, unlocking and disrupting with digital technologies.

Held this year at the Bvlgari Resort & Residences in Dubai, the annual, invitation-only Middle East CEO Forum hosted by global strategy & management leader Boston Consulting Group has seen CEOs and senior business leaders gather from across the region for presentations and discussion on business opportunities in the digital era – with BCG’s global Chairman Hans-Paul Bürkner among the speakers.

“We strive to advance collective thinking with thought-provoking discussions to inspire the strategic digital transformation agenda in the coming decade,” said Joerg Hildebrandt, BCG Managing Director for the Middle East. “The Middle East region is abundant with inspiration and desire to determine how next-generation technologies will enable the region to realise true value.”

While last year’s event focused more specifically on the adoption of artificial intelligence, this year’s speakers – which further included BCG’s Technology Advantage Practice Global Leader Karalee Close and BCG Digital Ventures Managing Partner Maher Masri – presented more broadly around business and the digital revolution; how companies can identify value, unlock potential and disrupt to ‘win the ‘20s.’

“We see a strong desire from private and public sector organisations in the Middle East to further accelerate their journeys embracing digital technology, to digitally-enhance all operations and seize long-term competitiveness,” added Hildebrandt, who has been based in the region for 15 years. “To win in the ‘20s and harness the value from digital, a three-step journey is needed: identify where the value is, unlock it, and disrupt with digital.”

BCG Middle East CEO forum discusses business disruption in the digital age

In addition to the BCG team, other guest speakers and panelists included Faraz Khalid, CEO of local ecommerce giant Noon; Kesri Kapur, Group CEO of Americana (Kuwait Food Company); UAE Managing Director of Virgin Mobile Karim Benkirane, who is overseeing the launch of the region’s first fully digitised mobile service. Also on the guest list: a humanoid robot and a virtual AI-powered recruiter, with which the attendees could interact. 

“Companies are using digital technologies to unlock new sources of economic value but it takes more that technology alone,” said Benkirane in his presentation. “Senior leaders including CEOs must create a strong digital culture, develop internal capabilities, empower people, attract and retain digital talent. The ultimate test of the leadership during digital transformation is to find the balance between autonomy and alignment.”

The theme of this year’s Middle East CEO Forum follows on from the firm’s recently released global leadership framework for ‘winning’ the coming decade, which focuses on five key pillars (in BCG’s words); mastering the new logic of competition, designing the organisation of the future, applying the science of organisational change, achieving innovation and resilience through diversity, and optimising for both social and business value.

“Winning the present is challenging enough, but the more essential task of leadership is winning the future,” the firm states. “A new era of competition will provide an opportunity for the resurgence of some incumbents. But the ones that succeed in the 2020s will look very different than they do today – they will have evolved their businesses to harness new technologies and reshaped their external relationships, organisations, and approaches accordingly.”