The CTO of Aramex focuses on simplifying the logistics company’s infrastructure—and ensuring that his team remains ready for technology’s latest trends.
Aramex is a leading global provider of comprehensive logistics and transportation solutions. It was the first company from the Arab world to go public on the NASDAQ stock exchange. Established in 1982 as an express operator, the company rapidly evolved into a global brand recognized for its customized services and innovative multi-product offering. As a result, technology is at the center of what the company does. Samer Awajan is the Chief Technology Officer of Aramex. As such, he leads IT strategy, and he manages the IT infrastructure and system development process in the company along with being an active member of the Global Management Team. As he notes in this interview with CIO Insight contributor, Peter High, he has focused both on simplifying the infrastructure of Aramex, but also ensuring that his team remains abreast of trends to inform the rest of the company on the art of the possible.
Peter High: What are your priorities for the year ahead?
Samer Awajan: The priorities for the year ahead are to enable and facilitate regional and global trade and commerce responsibly which include further expansion by adding more locations and to be recognize as one of the top five global logistics and express transportation service providers
High: With over 17,000 employees working across 575 distinct locations spanning 70 countries, how do you organize your IT team to partner across the enterprise?
Awajan: The IT team is totally aligned with the business and are constantly interacting with the other business units in the company. All members of the team understand the industry, how the company operates and the plans for the company. As an example, this includes companies we might acquire and locations we will plan to open. The IT headquarters is in Jordan, however there are local teams in UAE, Saudi Arabia, London, Asia, and India and local support from individual IT project managers in the remaining countries. Therefore, we have touchpoints throughout the organization.
High: As a logistics and transportation business, clearly information is key. How does your team work with other divisions of the company to identify opportunities for creative use of technology?
Awajan: In order to identify opportunities for the creative use of technology we allow and encourage the IT staff to educate and train themselves on new technologies by attending training courses, workshops and events. The business has an open communications policy and flat structure which facilitates interaction between the business units. That said, it is important that the IT teams are aware of what the competition are doing and how important the technology systems are to the business. Through these insights, we can advise our colleagues on what is possible using technology.
High: How have you modernized your infrastructure to support the growth of Aramex?
Awajan: We implemented virtualization infrastructure all across our data centers including virtual storage, virtual computing and virtual appliances for connectivity. We connected all our data centers across the WAN utilizing latest technologies to form a private cloud for the enterprise. And we are investing in cloud computing platforms for all new application developments. We support BYOD and enable our workforce to be connected seamlessly in and out of their offices.
High: What technology trends particularly excite you as you look out, say, three years?
Awajan: The digital trends in the industry are fascinating. Ecommerce is driving the logistics industry into new dimensions. The sharing economy and the "Uberization" of industries is happening all around us. Internet of things is going to be a game changer for the industry. Machine learning, big data, natural language processing and the new bot frameworks that are coming out offer great transformation opportunities. Commoditization and consumerization of the various types of devices enabling all mobile customers and workers to be connected all the time. This is setting customer standards and expectations at very high levels and requiring us to adopt and embrace mobility and real time information access to goods locations and movements.
Peter High is President of Metis Strategy, a business and IT advisory firm. His latest book is Implementing World Class IT Strategy. He is also the author of World Class IT: Why Businesses Succeed When IT Triumphs. Peter moderates the Forum on World Class IT podcast series. He speaks at conferences around the world. Follow him on Twitter @PeterAHigh.