UAE takes leadership role in digital transformation


UAE takes leadership role in digital transformation
INSIGHTFUL: Another good-sized crowd attended the third edition of Digitrans. - Photo by Dhes Handumon

Dubai - Dubai has largely been responsible for changing the mindset when it comes to adopting new technologies.


Rohma Sadaqat

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Published: Wed 30 Oct 2019, 9:25 PM

Last updated: Thu 31 Oct 2019, 2:06 PM

When it comes to digital transformation, the UAE has taken a leadership role in the Middle East region with the government sector leading the charge in technology adoption, experts at The Digital Transformation Forum (Digitrans 2019), organised by Khaleej Times and MIT Sloan. 
"We are trying to navigate a very vague future," said Ghaith Rahman, head of ecosystem development and partnerships and co-head of Area 2071. "Anyone that claims to be an expert on the Fourth Industrial Revolution is wrong as we are still at the stage where we are trying to grasp the full impact of the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution."
He noted that a lot of the future will revolve not just around technology, but how technology is influencing our interactions and daily lives. Towards this end, he noted that the government of Dubai has largely been responsible for changing the mindset when it comes to adopting new technologies.
"Dubai has become a testbed for new technology," he added.
Similarly, Faisal Mohammad Ali Alshimmari, internal consultant at the Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government, highlighted how the government has taken a very active role in ensuring that the latest technologies are carefully studied before being adopted to improve the quality of services being offered. This, he said, is usually in the form of forward-facing initiatives such as the Dubai Innovation Strategy, the Dubai AI strategy and the Dubai Blockchain Strategy. 
"We have more than 12 federal strategies mandating evolution," he said. "As a service provider, when you know that you are being assessed every year with at least seven major KPIs, then you end up with a culture that promotes innovation."   He added: "We need digital transformation, not just because it saves us money, but also because it helps us ensure our competitiveness, ease of using services, and the happiness of our citizens.  Currently, we are looking at digital transformation as an enabler to reduce spenditure and to reduce our carbon footprint." 
Alshimmari also highlighted the important role that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are playing in the innovation lifecycle. "While the digital transformation evolution is being helped along by the efforts of the government, SMEs also play a critical role in this ecosystem. Why is this the case? Because, SMEs are agile, extremely innovative, and quick to adopt new technologies. This is why you see a lot of big corporations acquiring SMEs to help them innovate."
Dr Yousef Al Hammadi, advisor, Early Childhood Authority, explained that while it is hard to predict what the future is going to look like, this should not stop various entities from ensuring that they are preparing the next generation for it. 
"It is time to move away from debates about how children spend too much time on their mobile phones and tablets and instead think about how we should start teaching them to responsibly use technology," he said. "We have to work with local and international entities to do this. We are starting programmes to teach students about how they can get the most value out of new technologies."
As an example, he pointed to automation and robotics and how they are impacting every major industry today.  "The curve of automation is growing every single day and it is not touching just one segment," he said. "Also, you walk into a bank or a hotel today and it is not uncommon to be greeted by a robot. When you look at changes like these in the industry, you have to start thinking about how you can augment your skills."
Hugo Walkinshaw, chief partnership officer at Antworks, noted that there is still a misconception that automation and new technologies will end up causing people to lose their jobs. This, he stressed, is not going to be the case because new jobs will be created that will require people to specialiSe in a different skill set.
"New roles and capabilities will be needed in the medium term," he said. "Roles will change so you will have to ensure that you are investing in training new talent for new jobs. Whoever gets that right will lead." -

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