The CEO of Malomatia talks about IT Consultancy

Malomatia is a rare breed of company in the international information technology (IT) marketplace and one that puts the national interest and investment in the future ahead of pure profits. Rachel Morris meets Yousef Al Naama of the Qatar-based IT services consultancy company that looks at the big picture.

Malomatia chief executive officer (CEO) Yousef Al Naama describes Malomatia as a “Qatari company with a global vision”.

“Our priorities are not just commercial,” he explains. “Our goals are closely aligned with the Qatar National Vision…we are 100 percent owned by the State of Qatar.”

And it is this that sets the IT services and consulting company (Malomatia means “informatics” in Arabic), apart from its competitors.

Created four years ago under the umbrella of the Supreme Council for Information Technology (ictQATAR), Malomatia has focused on providing consulting services for government, healthcare and education – all priorities for the Qatari government as it builds a new economy beyond dependency on oil and gas revenues.

Al Naama says to achieve Qatar‘s national vision of a vibrant knowledge based society; Malomatia uses global best practices, deploying the very best local talent and international expertise.

“We are extremely focused on those national priorities,” says Al Naama. “Our niche here is to be great on enabling those sectors by having strong local capabilities and knowledge. It’s not just trying to see the opportunities out there. We have been set up to address the local capabilities of those three main sectors. We address those priorities by addressing the needs of those sectors.”

Malomatia’s business model is simple and effective. “Today we have 140 people working for Malomatia. The majority, around three quarters, are on the core business area. The rest are support and management,” explains Al Naama. “We focus on the high level IT service offerings (such as business analysts and e-government experts) and we look to our partners to deliver the low end capabilities and offerings.”

Al Naama says Malomatia is unique in the region, and while similar to other government-sponsored companies in Asia, has a different, more defined agenda. “I’m aware of some other international initiatives,” he says. “Singapore and Malaysia have been able to set up something similar but their focus is on managed services and providing online platforms. Ours is different.”

The difference for Qatar is that gap between the national aspirations as being able to deliver them. In short, being able to build human capital within Qatar to sustain the growth targets the country has ambitiously set for itself.

“We all know Qatar is embarking on huge social and economic development.” Al Naama says. “However we do have great challenges around capabilities, or human capital. The question has always been around how do we address in the dynamic developments of the country and yet not jeopardise the sustainability of this growth.”

Al Naama says Malomatia addresses this gap by forging international partnerships. “The core engine of our business is capabilities, subject matter experts and knowledge,” he explains. ”We always ask ourselves: by offering such a service or solution, how much are we growing in terms of capability? How are we enhancing it? What knowledge are we returning and how do we sustain such a business locally in Qatar?

“The fourth priority will also be profit, but because we are 100 percent owned by the state, yes we are looking at sustaining a good commercial enterprise locally but it is down the list in terms of priorities. We do very selective strategic partnerships with international companies. We are a systems integrator, we are not a software company, we are not a hardware reseller. By understanding the Qatari national priorities in terms of what they need to enable and develop, we also look at international best practices in terms of solutions and applications.”

Although still young, the company has developed its own systems to ensure the client – which includes healthcare giants like Qatar’s Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) – has the best possible team working for them.

“We do this by filtering, we are very good in doing that and working out what the client needs and how best practice can be applied,” Al Naama says. “And then together with those partners, we become the local subject matter experts in delivering those solutions to our clients.”

HMC, Qatar’s state healthcare provider with 17,000 employees and a huge patient workload yet ageing IT systems, is a good example of these partnerships in action.

In February this year, HMC and Cerner signed an agreement to digitise the healthcare providers medical records and other processes. Acting as a prime contractor and CIS integrator, Cerner will deliver cutting edge health IT solutions from Cerner and third party suppliers that will bring the HMC Hospital Information Management into the 21st century. This is Cerner’s first project in the region to digitise an entire country’s public health system on a single computing platform. This comes 12 months after HMC, again with support from Malomatia, signed an agreement to create a Picture Archiving and Communications System (PACS) from GE Healthcare across its eight hospitals. The project, which was implemented in record time, enables clinicians to move from using traditional x-ray film to accessing their patients’ image records on their screens at the touch of a button. The new system will facilitate improved diagnosis and patient care capabilities. “We have been very close to what has been happening at HMC,” says Al Naama. “From the early start of our company, HMC is one of the main enablers of healthcare in Qatar, so our relationship with them has been very strategic.

Today, as a result of two years refining and transforming their clinical information systems, yes we are now a partner with an international company to delivery this very large and transformative project. This is a four to five year programme and to us this is one of the great projects that will see Malomatia working with an international partner to enable and deliver a large-scale project. This is a good example of what Malomatia does. This is a transformational project. It is a transformation of the way the hospital and the organisation operates. It has technical capabilities, it has change management capabilities, and implementation expertise and programme management needs, data migration experts and testing experts. It has clinical and IT capabilities under one programme. And this is what Malomatia offers today – the merging between clinical, business and the IT resources and capabilities.” The HMC partnership is a “landmark” one for Malomatia, as it plays not just to Qatar’s ambitions for a health and knowledge-based society, but has also created an opportunity for the fledgling company to create a niche for itself. “We have more than 50 plus subject matter experts in healthcare,” Al Naama says. “Some of them are doctors, some are experts in diagnostic imaging. This is unique for companies like ours and I would say we are one of the only ones.”

Al Naama says these are day-to-day examples of Malomatia’s role in brokering the best expertise for the project, with a majority of their clients being, as he terms, ‘public entities’.

“Public and private, we address both. From delivery in terms of project management, having the right business analysts to understand our clients in terms of gathering information, the right solution that fits the right requirements not the products’ requirements,” he says.

“Major companies are our partners, such as SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, HP. These are the large technology companies. We are very selective. Normally those companies like to sell the best features of their products. We like to position what’s best to the client’s interest regardless of technology.” According to Al Naama, in Qatar the trend is towards “modernisation” and “transformation” of processes, like what HMC is doing.

“We always build a model with our partners. It’s a work share delivery model. We have a local sustainable accountability to our clients and our experts are in-house,” Al Naama says.

“Malomatia comes as a vehicle to enable that sustainability. This is especially around modernisation and transformation. Clients are asking, how do I transform the existing processes in place into a more modernised and up-to-date approach?”

Modernisation and also importantly change management are keys to the future of business in Qatar, as public and private bodies address competing in a global market. “These are long term operations. There will always be enhancement to the solution,” Al Naama says. “Change management is an area we try to address. Quite often you are changing the way a service or a system has been done for years. How do you deal with that in terms of change management? Through training and adaptions, and that is something we work [on] with clients.”

Al Naama says the company is moving into a new phase of development – looking at new sectors as the nation’s economy diversifies. “In my view within the next few years there are two growth areas that we are currently looking into and our board has approved,” he says. “One area will be growing locally in terms of additional sectors such as growing our penetration in finance, telecom and petrochemical. These are sectors we have not been addressing because of our focus on health, education and government. Our other area of growth will be expanding into the Gulf Cooperation Council region. We have a great belief that we have the references, we have the right capabilities, we have the partnerships that could enable us to play an effective role in the region.”
This article first appeared in TheEDGE 4.3, March 2012.


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