The Middle East holds a prominent place in the digital transformation landscape. According to Gartner, the IT spending in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) will total $160 billion in 2020, an increase of 2.4% from 2019, with a double-digit growth in enterprise software.


The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the region the same way it did other major markets. A PwC COVID-19 pulse survey states that 72% of Middle East CFOs are predicting the return to “business as usual” to take more than three months, with a huge impact on employment. And organizations expect furloughs in the coming months owing to the disrupted demand and supply.


However, for a region that has been accelerating IT investments and digital transformation, setting new benchmarks in the field of happiness, and creating mega events like the Dubai Expo 2020 – the disruption caused by COVID-19 has created unique opportunities.


Understanding the role of business culture in the Middle East

Despite countries investing in digital transformation, the pace of adoption in the region as a whole has been slow. An element that could be holding the region back is the way trust functions as a cultural concept. Here, trust is deeply rooted in social relationships, making the challenge for growing digital, people related as opposed to technology. The Middle East was striving to strike a balance between imported expertise to leapfrog in the short term and training their own talent to build sustained transformation.


Redefined talent models: COVID-19 as the catalyst for a new wave of growth

In the past decade, technology organizations have brought in the global delivery model for the region to leverage a global talent pool. Talent practices have transformed with dependency on Agile parameters that we have taken for granted. Most organizations use a distributed agile approach with collocated teams aiding face-to-face collaboration and impromptu meetings. They have leveraged practices like observational coaching, information radiators for easy swarming of defects, and identifying opportunities for continuous flow to iteratively and incrementally deliver a product. But the pandemic will and has changed this, and organizations in the Middle East are taking notice.

  • There is an acceptance amongst leading organizations to change the way they function and operate. Onsite-centric models with collocated teams will no longer be the go-to working model.
  • Businesses will turn agile in newer ways and will move away from the dependency of nearshore teams.
  • Cross-industry synergy to share knowledge and best practices.


The new mindset will give rise to three large trends that will help organizations reimagine their business for growth.

  • A global remote workforce: The Middle East, like other Asian regions, has taken for granted primarily collocated teams: a shoulder-tapping workplace where people can collaborate face to face and meet impromptu. All of this will and is transforming to a new-age, agile workforce. Organizations will hire individuals and teams from across the globe paving the way for alternative sourcing strategies. Remote working has been so successful that companies will hire permanent talent from around the world.
  • The talent gig economy: Though the concept of talent crowdsourcing is novel in the Middle East, there will be a rise in location-agnostic talent. For instance, we have seen a renewed interest in crowdsourcing talent through TopCoder with our customers. Talent to pivot short-term opportunities is scarce, especially for the niche skills that drive innovation. For more than a decade, we’ve helped companies access and execute with incredible digital talent, safely and securely.
  • Open innovation: The interest in digital transformation in the region will spark the need for open innovation. From open offices to online offices, the access to a larger talent pool, and the availability of sophisticated collaboration systems will lead the way for accelerated open innovation. There is also wider access to best practices and cross-industry learning that will aid the process.


Building a new-age, agile talent organization in the new normal

Talent transformation is not possible by focusing only on people. Technology plays a crucial part. When unprecedented situations call for new ways of working, it is important for organizations to rely on partners who bring in the technical expertise and experience.


For instance, Wipro Digital works on the Agile Anywhere principle that looks at five key facets and calibrates the existing norms around Infrastructure, Technology-Enabled Engineering Agility, Continuous Flow Practices, Ways of Working, and Collaboration.


Agile Anywhere: 5 facets of the framework

This approach helps:

  • Increase transparency, allowing for a single version of truth
  • Provide Zero Touch execution and reduce dependence on individuals
  • Create self-organized, empowered teams
  • Increase productivity and improve cost of delivery through faster turnaround time and less time spent on wasteful activities


The talent organization is at the forefront of the crisis, and the Middle East has remarkable global examples of Agile leadership to look up to. The time is now to take the leap, learn from the world, and pivot to sustainable success.

Lokesh Dhingra

Lokesh Dhingra

Digital Business Head, Middle East


Lokesh represents and leads Wipro Digital for the Middle East and Africa. He derives his inspiration from the people around him, his customers, and their consumers. He strives to build solutions that "wow" users, re-imagining digital experiences with clients and partners by co-creating customer journeys with agile and iterative methods.

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