In a sit-down chat with SJUK Editor Becci Knowles, Faki Saadi, SOTI Sales Director UK Ireland and France, shares his thoughts on everything from security and device management to jobs and AI.
Born in a small town just outside of Paris, SOTI Sales Director Faki Saadi finished school with aspirations for a career in engineering and electronics. But it wasn’t until his first work experience assignment that his ambitions for a technical career really started to take shape.
Faki was in the office the day the company had its first computer with Windows 95 delivered and had to help the person who was looking after him to set it up. He remembers the experience like it was yesterday. “I was just so amazed by what I’d seen, and for the first time I knew exactly what I wanted to do in my life.”
Faki went on to spend the early part of his working life in technical roles. He joined enterprise mobility management firm SOTI 12 years ago. Initially, his role there was a technical one and he id his first two weeks of training in Canada as at the time there was no office in Europe.
At the end of his training, a conversation with the then CEO gave him food for thought. “He said to me, “Faki you are Sales” and encouraged me to take that path.” And he is glad he did. Faki has the advantage that having worked in technical roles himself, he understands SOTI’s products and services, and is able to talk about them in a way that enables businesses to see the benefits.
And that’s not the only advantage. Faki has a unique perspective on the challenges facing businesses having worked in the full chain; as the end-user/customer, a value-added reseller and now as the software provider.
Then and now
With over 20 years’ experience in the IT and mobility industries, Faki has witnessed considerable change. “When I started, most of the IT infrastructure was inside companies. The introduction of the cloud was huge but back then the cyber criminals were one step ahead”, but things have since improved considerably “and now of course, we have Software as a Service (SaaS).
The pandemic and the remote workforce it created has also changed the landscape. For me Faki it was transformative. “What I mean by that, is as a as a director, it helped me to recruit the right talents, which is key. At the same time, it raised another question, “how you retain this workforce?” People working remotely can feel detached from the company. There is a French expression that says, “far from the eyes, far from the heart. So that’s been another challenge.”
Security is another issue. A recent SOTI study, found that 36% of UK businesses in the last year have invested in additional devices for employees due to the rise of the distributed workforce. But over half are managing workflows through unsecured manual systems.
“With the advent of a digital and often remote workforce, businesses were asking, how do we protect our infrastructure, our services but also give our people enough flexibility to do their jobs?” says Faki. “Device management is no longer just laptops – as businesses invest in new technologies and devices in and outside of the office, many struggle to give security the attention it deserves. Whether it’s budgetary issues or simply a lack of know-how, devices are often left unprotected and that includes printers, tablets and scanners.”
UK skills gap
Although a distributed workforce has enabled businesses to fill roles that they might not otherwise been able to, the UK still has a skills crisis. One way for companies to address their recruitment problems is, says Faki, to look at profiles of people that may not have considered previously and train them in-house.
Businesses should also embrace new technologies; AI in particular says Faki. “New technology and AI will create a massive number of jobs, which means that this workforce, which used to be low skilled with low pay, will be able to move into a higher-grade job with better financial prospects.”
Faki tells me that SOTI has been using artificial intelligence for years to bridge the skills gap and the company continues to grow and hire new people. “A far cry from the headlines around AI causing job losses,” he says. SOTI also invests in talent programmes and works closely with universities and schools to help promote engineering and IT development as a career.
“The biggest threat that’s coming within the next few years is from quantum computing, not AI. Any security that we know today, even the most sophisticated, can be broken by a quantum computer in few seconds. For people like me, who are really interested in new technology and how it might affect our business, it’s crucial [we keep an eye on this].”
Make a plan, call the experts
The biggest thing for businesses, says Faki, is to ensure they have they have right tools for the job. First, they should have a plan and call on the services that will give you them the knowledge that they don’t have, “because although those technologies are an opportunity, they are also a threat if they’re not implemented the right way.”
Any device that’s connected to the Internet will need to be secure and that’s what SOTI does with the ONE Platform, says Faki. “We offer a solution that will not only cover the management and the audits of the different devices that will need to be deployed by a company, but we also secure all the endpoints.”
As the conversation draws to a close, I ask Faki, what is the best bit of professional advice he has ever been given? He says without hesitation, “When you’re not happy about something, do it and then complain. I apply it to my work and how I manage my team.”