Next-gen tech powering GCC governments' visions
GCC governments are accelerating the realisation of their respective visions by taking advantage of the latest and best emerging technologies.
Dubai - Busy days ahead as Gitex Technology Week set to tackle hot-button issues head-on
Governments and enterprises in the Middle East are embarking on a technology journey like never before. And while next-generation innovations are now literally at one's fingertips, a convergence of efforts from all stakeholders are needed to make the ride smooth as it can be.
This, among several other burning issues, will be tackled at Gitex Technology Week, the region's premiere gathering of businesses and industry leaders, which starts on Sunday at the Dubai World Trade Centre and will run until October 10.
It certainly is an exciting time for governments, companies and consumers. The level of connectivity that emerging technologies like 5G, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and more will bring is simply incredible. The technology is primed to meet the visions set forth by the governments in the region where everyone can potentially reach extraordinary levels of productivity, efficiency and standards of living. All that is required, is strategic adoption and implementation.
Although companies understand the significance of investing in IT transformation, what is also propelling this growth is the support from governments operating from within the region to accelerate the realisation of their respective visions. The UAE and Saudi Arabia are at the forefront in this regard, with their Vision 2021 and Vision 2030, respectively.
Gartner's sample for the GCC itself is huge: It represents $283 billion in revenue and public sector budget and $7.8 billion in IT spending. IT budgets in the region are pegged to increase by 2.8 per cent on average in 2019. The research firm's Annual Global CIO survey furthermore says that 30 per cent of CIOs in the GCC are now scaling and refining the results of their digital initiatives.
"The impact of technology on our daily lives is undeniable. We know consumers want to be more connected than ever before, expanding their experience from the phone in their hand all the way to the car they drive," John Roth, president and managing director of General Motors Africa and Middle East, told Khaleej Times.
"This requires not just the latest in-vehicle technology, but the ability for the vehicle itself to process and update alongside the latest innovations. That means we need to be looking at not just the technology today, but where it needs to be integrated and working alongside tomorrow."
High-tech friends, not foes
The Dell Transformation Index revealed significant interest to invest in GCC tech: 93 per cent of businesses surveyed in the UAE and Saudi Arabia have said that they plan to invest in powerful technologies in the next three years. And while 35 per cent plan to invest in multi-cloud in the next one to three years, 36 per cent plan to spend on AI and 52 per cent on IoT.
The advent of emerging technologies have, however, also spawned concerns about the future. Industry leaders, however, have sought to calm nerves.
"Disruption is a process that plays out over time; sometimes slowly, but completely. It is imperative that organisations invest in a holistic and strategic approach to chart and respond to the pace of disruption," Mohammed Amin, senior vice-president for the Middle East, Russia, Africa and Turkey at Dell Technologies, told Khaleej Times.
New tech replacing human jobs has been a hot-button topic. While that may be the perception, it may not necessarily play out that way: Readiness for disruption, therefore, is crucial.
"New roles will emerge that did not previously exist. individuals must develop the required skills and organisations must encourage this skills development internally to keep pace," he added.
This corroborates with the World Economic Forum's study that at least 133 million new roles may be generated globally by 2022 as a result of the new division of labour between humans, machines and algorithms.
Also, from humans to hardware and software, there must be harmony and knowledge in order to minimise - if not fully eliminate - emerging threats as a result of new innovations that cyber-criminals are keen to take advantage of.
"A recurring problem that we see especially in the case of adjusting to new technologies is that company employees are not aware how the technology works and they can be a vulnerability to the company from within," Amir Kanaan, managing director for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa at Kaspersky, told Khaleej Times.
"The best way of working around this problem is to improve cyber-awareness and knowledge; these are key elements to building a cyber-immune organisation."
5G, for example, is an attractive ground for distributed denial of service attacks, thanks to the would-be massive number of connected devices and super-fast Internet speeds, making attacks more massive and impactful. In this case, AI can not only help neutralise these threats if and when they happen, but also anticipate them.
"Because AI is so powerful, it is able to immediately capture any potential detrimental or incongruous communication piece that may affect the way of life, affect perception and affect interaction between people," Jackson Liu, head of Mena and Europe at Bigo Technology, told Khaleej Times.
"After capturing the said piece of information, it is then left to the governing body to determine how they would like to handle the situation, or if the situation warrants any alarms."
And, in the context of the saying "a tool is only as good as its user", Tim Griffin, founder and chief technology officer of Userful Corp, says that systems must be a unifying factor in a world in which they are seemingly entangled and complicated.
"If a system is complicated and hard to use and manage, then it will only hinder people's productivity and efficiency," he told Khaleej Times.
"On the other hand, an intuitive, flexible and easy-to-use system will definitely improve operations in the enterprise."