What is a Necessity for Business?

Digital Transformation Dubai

In the second part of our new series: ‘What is a necessity?’ We look at how businesses can re-evaluate priorities since the pandemic and the surprise savings that have occurred…

A few months ago, Paris should have been filled with the fashion pack. Summer time is Haute Couture season as well as tourist season. The city becomes a glitterati of the industry’s most well-heeled and prominent figures attending shows like Dior, Chanel and Valentino.

Instead, the city was sparsely made up of Parisians and a smattering of European tourists, gingerly emerging from months of sequestered living.

For the first time ever, the bi-annual sartorial spectacle was digitized. The National reported that the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture confirmed “each house will be represented in the form of a creative film or video.” This new approach to fashion weeks, between Haute Couture and Ready-to-Wear, marks an unprecedented move in the experience of high fashion.

Talks are already underway to make remote collection viewings a permanent fixture in a post COVID-19 world. Virtual fashion experiences may lack the personalized element that comes with these high octane productions but Vogue Business stated, “You think tech and analogue experiences are polar opposites, but if you unite them, you will come out with something really interesting. Virtual showrooms, which make use of 360-degree imagery, allow for better data and communication between brands and buyers.”

Digital Transformation Dubai

Kristin Savilia, CEO of data analytics company, Joor, said digitizing collections and shows “is a good thing for the industry because it leads to transparency, quicker order turnaround times and easier communication.” Indeed, Joor, who enable virtual showrooms for brands including Loewe and Proenza Schoules reportedly saw the average value of each order placed increase by 400 percent, compared to 2019 figures.

For an industry that contributes to 10 percent of annual global carbon emissions per the United Nations Environment Programme, the omission of international travel not only hurts the planet less, but also the purse strings, too. On a similar train of thought, Connie Chan, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, a private American venture capital firm, said of virtual fashion presentations: “The idea of what is possible should dramatically open up and the costs should go down.”


COVID-19 triggered immediate profit and loss impacts on businesses across the world. We all know that companies have initiated short-term liquidity and measures like discretionary spend cuts, temporary, and/or permanent workforce reductions, forcing introspection on what is and isn’t a necessity to maintain business continuity. Most at risk are the SMEs, which according to Harvard Business School, the average small business has enough cash reserves to last just 27 days, but Main Street (small independent) businesses often have less than 20 days’ worth of reserves.

One of the easiest ways to save money during a particular time like now, is to purchase necessities only. This means no new expenditures that aren’t needed straight away save for better and cost-effective alternatives. If the fashion industry – a world that is largely tactile – can replicate the same visceral and meaningful momentum with augmented and virtual reality, while curtailing significant overheads at the same time, then any industry can leverage on the creative possibilities of digital.

Helping companies with their digital creativity is what Evoke International has been working with clients on for years: digital transformation – which is not only a necessity, it is a core mandate to driving businesses into the future. While scaling down on certain activities and making relevant changes i.e., reduced workforce and working from home as necessary in the short-term, longer-term strategies need to be focused on investing in resources that will enable a robust business model where performance will still be able thrive amidst a global collapse. That’s not to say the costs going in to new technologies and processes are not substantial in the immediate sense. But the return on investment is ten-fold and crucially, sustainable.

One such all-inclusive resource within Evoke International’s end-to-end service capabilities, is our Conflict/Commercial Analysis Software Tool (CAST) – the ‘why?’ engine which provides the foundation for everything we do, allowing businesses to maximise profitability and minimize cost.

Data is the new oil, as the adage goes – it is the 21st century’s most lucrative and essential commodity. CAST equips businesses with a complete 360° data-fueled and simulation-supported picture of the world, your competitors, your customers, and how wider events and the market, is and will affect business. The approach, models and methodologies developed in CAST have been verified by the U.S. Government and independent bodies as having over 90% accuracy in predicting and shaping thousands of political, social, economic and business outcomes.This is a real contextualized understanding by translating data into useable information that generates insights for global, governmental and corporate strategies, investments, marketing and most importantly sales – creating a true understanding of why consumers/citizens are making the choices they are, who they really are, what they really want and how to deliver it to them.

Necessity for Business - Digital Transformation Dubai

The value and outcomes brought on by CAST are indispensable. CAST further drives data driven decision making for senior leadership through our analytics tools designed for C-suite executives and powered by data, analytics and AI – guiding leadership with predictive modeling in real time.

Here’s a round up of the expected outcomes:

  1. Close High Value Transactions and Negotiations with the Best Deal.
  2. Anticipate, Mitigate and Shape Political Social and Economic Outcomes Predict Current and Alternative Outcomes.
  3. Test Potential Tactics in Advance to Weaknesses, Risk and the Winning Strategy.
  4. Understanding Most Likely Scenarios, Risks and Uncertainties Through the 360° Contextualization.
  5. Feasibility of Agreements on Commercial Negotiations, Anticipate Regulations or Political Influence Outcomes.
  6. Manage Stakeholder Complexity – Competing Perceptions, Interests and Capabilities – By Shaping Positive Outcomes.
  7. Predict Consumer buying habits, will to spend and why, and increase conversion.
  8. Digital Media Insights Planning Tool to plan effectively consumer segmentation, data driven personalization based on behavioral targeting and seeding.
  9. Effectively plan digital media buys across multiple channels and platforms paid owed and earned.

Our areas of application include: geopolitical risk, business intelligence, investment, due diligence, regulatory risk, dispute resolution, contracts, negotiations, board and business strategy, digital transformation, media campaign planning and infrastructure development among many other areas. We also offer models specially designed for governments and institutions grappling with how to develop current and future scenarios for COVID-19 including financial, social, political and supply-chain modeling leveraging big data and AI through CAST.

CAST is ultimately a sustainable cost reduction program because it is a permanent structural measure that will cut the costs of ‘second guessing’ and ‘stabbing in the dark’ that would mount over time. CAST enables you to develop a clear target picture for a company with guaranteed longevity including the future core business model and operating model, while also defining profitability targets, profit and loss goals.

The pandemic has left many businesses in an open wound. CAST not only stops the bleeding, it starts the healing.

Join the rEvolution - Shift Happens
Evoke International.

Embrace September’s Optimism

Evoke International Dubai

The fall has never hit so hard or fast before. A second ago it was summer. Two seconds ago it was March – when it all happened. Between then and now, many of us have had a burst of social normality during the July-August season after the still waters of lockdown.

For some that meant a domestic staycation (or for the fortunate and brave few, a far-flung escape), the return of a popular Netflix series (Dirty John just got a whole lot dirtier in season two) and the biggest back-to-school sentiment we’ve ever experienced after over six months of DIY education and working from home.

But still, instead of buying new stationery and setting ourselves some end-of-year goals, we’re faced with the brutal reality of an unpredictable end to 2020 – and the shocking realization that the cogs on this year are still in motion.

Evoke Optimism

Now we’re asking ourselves if our offices will reopen? Will our jobs remain? Will the recession continue into 2021 and after? Will our cities lockdown again? Will there be a second wave or will cases continue to peak and trough? Pre pandemic, September used to be the time for a positive reset, now we’re too busy contemplating how this beyond strange boxset called 2020 is going to end.

With a litany of unknowns, it doesn’t seem readily fitting to make anything resembling a plan. However, in the spirit of soldiering on and moving with the tide (and avoid washing up on dry banks), we say it’s time to embrace the usual optimism of September and find the green shoots that yield sure-fire results against this climate instead. For companies, that might be a deep look within to enable a fresh and considered outlook. To use an appropriate adage, knowledge is power. When you understand where you are and where you want to be, take that moment as a win in the right direction. Business sustainability is the requisite demand to ensuring a safe and future-proofed position in the current economic climate. Right now, Digital Transformation is the linchpin of growth. Building up digital capabilities, strategies and initiatives is akin to being on the pulse of change, which ultimately increases revenue and reduces cost. Think of leveraging on new technologies as renewed optimism for fostering stronger connections between businesses and customers as well as businesses with themselves. Whether on a company or individual level, being brought closer to your core is a catalyst for moving forward and effecting the right kind of change. If this all sounds like a lot of pressure, ‘at ease’, we say. When you have the experts to take the load off and deliver real-time analytics, reports and plans, the path is paved already. All you need to have is some fist-pumping readiness to take that road map and follow the directions to your destination – while keeping an open mind for revelatory forks in the road.

This September has been a realization that shift happens – as unknown as it may feel, it’s the most known unknown. Let’s embrace the shift.

Join the rEvolution - Shift Happens
Evoke International.

Jessica T.

Evoke International CAST Dubai

Jessica R. Towhey is an accomplished communications strategist with more than a decade of experience developing and implementing short – and long-term communications strategies. Jessica opened her own firm, 2e Communications, focusing on communications trainings and freelance writing and also serves as a Senior Communications and Crisis Management Specialist to EVOKE. Jessica served as the communications point-person for a number of federal political campaigns, including several top-tier U.S. House and U.S. Senate races. She has also worked as a senior communications advisor on Capitol Hill to a number of leading Members of Congress. In 2011, Jessica moved to the private sector where she prepared clients for intensive media situations such as high-stakes litigation or regulatory matters with federal and state authorities as well as developing comprehensive communications strategy campaigns for influencing debates and managing crises. Clients have included those in the pharmaceutical, energy, defense, airline, and financial sectors as well as nonprofit organizations and trade associations.

Prior to her work in political campaigns, Jessica was a newspaper reporter at daily papers in Northern California and Annapolis, MD, where she covered a variety of issues ranging from education to police and courts to military affairs.

In addition to publishing under her own byline as a freelance writer, Jessica writes for clients, advancing their ideas through op-eds, website copy, newsletters, blogs and social media.

Jessica earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from The Catholic University of America and holds a Master’s in Media Entrepreneurship from American University.

Byline news articles include:

New Federal Law Puts States in Charge of Education. But How Exactly Will It Work? (Northwest Times of Indiana)

New Mexico Education On the Rise (The Mountain Voice of New Mexico)

ESSA Plans Under Official and Unofficial Review (Real Clear Education)

DC’s Education Leaders Put Aside Differences to Improve Schools (Real Clear Education)

Click here to see more articles from Jessica R. Towhey in the Real Clear Education archives.

Laura B.

Evoke International CAST Dubai

Laura is an authority on all aspects of Human Rights and Immigration law, able to draw on the 12 years experience she has gained managing immigration, human rights and compliance teams across multiple blue chip law firms. She has represented some of the worlds largest companies across all sectors, including finance, technology, marketing, engineering, retail, telecoms, consultancy, oil and gas.

Laura has not only lived and breathed the changes to the global immigration climate over the years, but has also gained employment law experience and developed a close network of trusted third party advisers. This knowledge enables her to offer tailored consultancy and application for marketing campaigns, businesses and individuals alike, whether providing high-level strategic advice to companies on issues such as human rights, compliance, employment law and immigration conflicts, or offering financial and marketing compliance services to high-net worth individuals beyond their immigration requirements. This reflects Laura’s drive to building strong client relationships that exceed expectations.

Laura’s experience is derived from her tenure with Fragomen Worldwide, Willis Group, Definitive Immigration Services, Osborne Clarke and her current position as Director of Crossland Fox. She has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Greenwich in English Literature and Law and an LLB Conversion Degree from the London College of Law.

Laura remains true to her East End of London roots. Coming from a multi-cultural community, Laura is uniquely positioned to offer clients from all walks of life the same high-level of service she expects herself. Laura never forgets the reason she chose to work in law in the first place, and that was to help people.

Jeff C.

Evoke International CAST Dubai

Jeff is one of the preeminent Rule of Law, Anti-Corruption and Law Enforcement Experts in the world, having worked in conflict, post-conflict and developing nations across the globe. He currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer for UNISHKA Research Service and International Anti-Corruption Associates, and Senior Anti-Corruption and Rule of Law Advisor for EVOKE.

His previous positions have included Senior Anti-Corruption Advisor U.S. Dept. of State (Middle East / Central Asia), Senior Policy Advisor -Anti-Corruption (UNDP – Africa & Afghanistan), Chief-of-Party – Senior Anti-Corruption Advisor (Iraqi Reform Program), Team Leader (Senior Anti-Corruption Advisor) USAID/Tatweer Program (Iraq), General Counsel Advisor, Ministry of Defense (Iraq), Chief Operations Attorney, Rule-of-Law, U.S. Embassy, Iraq, Judicial Chairman, NATO Claims Appeal Commission (Macedonia), United States Foreign Claims Commissioner (Macedonia, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania), Command Judge Advocate (Honduras, Panama, Belgium, Korea), Senior Corporate Counsel, Alaska Airlines, Inc., and Lecturer: National University of Ireland – Institute for Human Rights Seattle Community College.

Jeff has demonstrated experience in capacity development at the national level, specifically in the area of anti-corruption, democracy and governance, extensive experience in working in conflict and post-conflict environments primarily on corruption related issues and outstanding communications that foster trust and productive relationships with colleagues, staff and senior management.

Most recently he has been the Senior Anti-Corruption Advisor for the U.S. Department of State FACT Project where he is administering a world-wide anti-corruption networking program dedicated toward advancing anti-corruption principles in the Middle East and Central Asia.  Previously, as the Anti-Corruption Legal Expert for UNDP-Afghanistan he focused on three primary deliverables of providing an assessment of the corruption complaint mechanism at the Afghan Ministry of Interior; creation of a capacity development plan for the corruption complaint mechanism; and, drafting a final report that incorporates all of aspects of the deliverables.

Jeff’s work continues to have lasting effects through his positions as Senior Anti-Corruption Advisor for the USAID PGPR Project where his primary duties consisted of four primary objectives: Worldwide Strategic Outreach and Partnership Development; Curriculum Development and Anti-Corruption Training Course Implementation; Conducting Anti-Corruption Study Tours; and, Mentoring and Networking. HIs tenure as Chief of Party, Iraq Inspector General Anti-Corruption Reform Program and Team Leader, Senior Legal Advisor, Anti-Corruption Component,  USAID/Tatweer (Ministerial Inspectors General) Iraq leave no doubt as to his superiority within the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption field.

Jeff holds a Doctorate of Law, University of Wisconsin, Bachelor of Arts, University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) and International Anti-Corruption Academy, Vienna, Austria. Recent publications include, Iranian Anti-Corruption Series: The General Inspection Organization; Anti-Corruption in the Economic Cooperation Organization; A Primer on Models and Strategies of Anti-Corruption Agencies; Corruption in Post-Conflict Environments; Developing a Strategic Implementation Plan for Anti-Corruption; Operation Desert Storm, Stories from the Front, Military Press; A Brief History of the California Legislative Counsel Bureau, 25 Pac. L. J. 211.

He is also a member of the State Bar Association of Wisconsin, California and Washington and speaks English, Spanish, Arabic and Farsi.

Khurram H.

Pharma Executive with 18 years of experience, Senior Director for Glaxosmithkline, Pfizer, Procter and Gamble leading digital marketing and eCommerce managing an $80m P&L and marketing budgets of over $150m. Setup First Digital Healthcare Accelerator in Asia with UAE Prime Ministers Officer Area 2071 initiative and Pfizer. Start-up mentor for the United Nations Development Program and Digital Marketing Subject Expert for the University of Cambridge.

Laura S.

Evoke International Dubai

Having worked in marketing, pr and events for over ten years Laura is our resident social media creative. 

Having a background in corporate marketing, coupled with the experience of managing busy events means that Laura is an expert on how the public digest our digital image.

Studying for a BA in Business, Management and Marketing, allows Laura to spearhead media campaigns rooted in both academic and professional learning. Laura is in control of the advertising on all social platforms, using her analytical and research expertise to maximize our organic reach and increase Return on Engagement (ROE).

Working extensively with the Avon brand has allowed Laura to really understand the nature of myriad of demographics which we use when developing solutions for our clients. The success of her campaigns has meant she herself has been featured on the cover of the Avon Cosmetics brochure. Laura has a regular training spot for Sales Leaders and Avon representatives where she offers tips and instruction on social media usage in the beauty and cosmetics industry championing woman empowerment and inclusion. 

Laura leads our social media creativity with not just advertising but the everyday graphic and video output of both our client’s and our own brand. Proficient in the Adobe Suite and a plethora of creative applications Laura is able to execute a plan from inception to conclusion.

Georgie B.

Georgie is a British/Greek journalist by training and a GCC expat lifer, having grown up in Bahrain and now living in Dubai. Over the years her assignments have seen her in the wilds of South Africa with Save The Children to hiking in Kazakhstan for a piece on solo female travelers to spending a week with an embalmer for The Guardian careers. She is also a certified crisis counsellor for women victims of domestic violence, where she trained and volunteered at Women’s Crisis Care International in Bahrain. Her role involved hospital and hotline duty as well as public engagement through community outreach.

In 2017 she was selected to deliver a five-day workshop on gender-based violence to young activists and students in Kuwait in association with NGO, Abolish 153. Her career in the UAE has spanned from being an Associate Editor for Harper’s Bazaar Arabia to a Senior Editor at Buro247.me and Emirates Woman where she held the position of Deputy Editor, managing the editorial production of the monthly magazine, writing and commissioning features as well as taking on an ambassadorial role for the brand at industry events. Georgie is currently the Communications Director for Evoke International, working on global strategic communications campaigns for governments to luxury brands.

Barak S.

Evoke International CAST Dubai

Barak M. Seener was a Middle East Research Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) between 2010 and 2015, and debriefed numerous international defence and foreign ministries along with businesses on strategic and political risk. Barak has lectured at NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly and led numerous strategic workshops at NATO. He has since joined the EVOKE team as a Senior Strategist and Campaign Director.

He has, in parallel, directed strategy and business development at the political risk company, Wikistrat and cyber-security company, RBPKR cultivating relations and with international governments, large banks, energy, defence and cyber-security companies. Barak managed negotiations with these entities that led to the significant sales of risk products and cyber security technologies

Prior to joining RUSI, Barak was one of the Henry Jackson Society’s founders in Westminster and was the Henry Jackson Society’s Greater Middle East Section Director. Barak holds a Masters from Birkbeck College, University of London in International Security and Global Governance and a BA in History and Politics from Queen Mary, University of London.

He has provided analysis and expert commentary for a range of international broadcasters including Al-Jazeera, BBC, BBC World, CNN, Fox News, Sky News, Voice of America, Chinese CCTV, Russia Today, and news outlets such as Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, the Evening Standard, Jerusalem Post and Xinhua.

Additionally, he has organized conferences, and published on transatlantic relations, US foreign policy, counter-terrorism, universal jurisdiction, nuclear proliferation and Middle East issues including the Arab Spring, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Iranian-GCC States dynamics, Iran’s nuclear program, and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Barak has published extensively for the Hudson Institute, <i>Jane’s Intelligence</i> Review, Jane’s Islamic Affairs Analyst, Defense News, The <i>National Interest, Middle East Quarterly</i>, <i>Muslim World Today</i>, <i>Jerusalem Post</i>, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, and <i>InFocus</i>. Barak has also reported for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s <i>PolicyWatches</i> and <i>PeaceWatches</i>.

Publications he has edited include: <i>Al Qaeda’s Armies: Middle East Affiliate Groups and the Next Generation of Terror</i>, by Jonathan Schanzer; <i>Foreign Affinity Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century: How to combat the International Terrorist Network in the United States</i> by Raymond Tanter (In Press); A policy focus by Maj. General (Res) D. Almog (April, 2004), <i>The West Bank Fence: A Vital Component in Israel’s Strategy of Defense, including a military critique</i>; and <i>A Defensible Fence: Fighting Terror and Enabling a Two State Solution</i>, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, D. Makovsky (April, 2004). He also contributed a chapter to the American Foreign Policy Council’s World Almanac of Islamism.

Phil S.

Evoke International CAST Dubai

Phil is an experienced website developer, Gamification expert, graphic designer and EVOKE’s Digital Media ‘Guru’ & Design Director. With a degree in Games Art from Norwich University College of Arts, Phil has designed and developed websites for clients across the globe from inception to deployment, encompassing the visual identity of the business as well as any collateral necessary to support the brand, to include customized web coding, graphic design, developing new launch platforms and print material design. Phil joined the EVOKE team nearly three-years ago and has transformed the web development services and digital platforms now available to our clients, their businesses and campaigns.

He natively develops websites on the WordPress platform with extensive experience in creating robust solutions for client needs to include complete interpretation of client business image and maximizing exposure, SEO and accompanying social media solutions. He is a self-described 50/50 split between developer and designer that loves smashing a client’s expectations by being able to deliver a great online presence.

He was requested by Gordon Beckett, Head of Design for The Sunday Times, to work with his design team at News International to demonstrate Cinema 4D and how this software can be introduced more prominently in their work. Phil produced several lighting rigs that are now in use for print and digital renders featured in “Ingear” and other Sunday Times sections. Additionally, he has produced Illustrator graphics that went to print in the “Business” section.

He also worked with Norwich University College of Arts as a tutor in the Games Art and Design Department for students working on a commercial project for Archant group – responsible for developing the student project from an idea into a product – involving developing a platform for socially engaging with readers of Archant’s publications, The EDP and The Evening News, in an effort to attract new ‘younger’ readers. He guided students into focusing on the ‘gamification’ and integration of the Archant brand into a social platform that people could, and would use. Although students on Games Art & Design are exposed to concepts of ‘play’ and ‘immersion’ the social interaction platform is new and complex. Phil spearheaded the work and reiterated the importance of risk and reward, and how that’s applicable to social media platforms.

He has also developed traditional marketing practices into digital deliverables, focusing on understanding demographics and developing for ‘your’ audience with an aim of wiping out the word ‘Broadcasting’ from social media and replacing it with ‘Narrowcasting’ – a trend that now seems to be gaining traction across social media platforms.

Phil is also an expert on the digital/social theories of real-world engagement and how that translates to social platforms in order to understand how to target our own, and our client’s message, across the digital world.