Friday 20 September 2019

Paul Black, Hani Nofal and Rabih Dabboussi

Key steps for digitization in the Middle East

DUBAI, October 20, 2015

Education, entrepreneurship, innovation, public and private partnerships and infrastructure development are the key components to developing digitization in the Middle East to help organisations become IoT-ready, according to experts.

Cisco, a worldwide leader in IT and Gulf Business Machines (GBM), the region’s number one provider of IT solutions, outlined the vital key steps that organizations in the Middle East will need to implement in order to become fully digital to embrace the Internet of Things (IoT) era at a press conference moderated by IDC’s IoT Research Lead for MEA at the ongoing Gitex Technology Week in Dubai, UAE.

According to IDC, IoT is part of every business discussion and digital transformation is driving operational efficiency, increasing employee productivity, garnering greater customer loyalty and creating new revenue streams.

As digitization accelerates, cutting edge infrastructure will increase a country’s GDP, reduce spending and create jobs. It will allow governments to extend the reach and impact of public services by converting insights into action.

It will enable new and diverse groups of entrepreneurs to build businesses that will shape the world, whilst providing more accessibility and opportunities for education and technology-based careers. As a result, it will ensure that countries become more competitive on the global stage. Having the right digital ecosystem in place will be a necessity to achieve any of these things.

At the core of the strategy are five key components for successful digitalization:

1.    Education:

Creating a better educated workforce, in the latest technologies and practices such as the Internet of Everything, capable of driving digital transformation. Today our Networking Academy program in the Middle East region boasts 684 networking academies and 65,785 students (over the past 12 months) across countries. The Middle East region has the highest percentage of female Networking Academy students: 32 percent, compared to 19 percent globally. Saudi Arabia has the highest concentration of students in the Middle East with 17,142, 37 percent of whom are female. The highest percentage of female students is in Oman (57 percent) and UAE (56 percent).

2.    Encouraging entrepreneurship:

Cisco will work with internal, national and international venture capital entities to provide multi-stage funding for global technologies. The company has already announced a $6 million investment in the Baida Impact Fund in Jordan to support early stage online and mobile innovation, healthcare technologies and services, e-commerce, consumer Internet and digital media services in Jordan. This funding represents the first allocation from the $10 million venture capital investment commitment, initially outlined by Cisco in May 2011, targeted at small businesses that provide innovative products, services and solutions.

3.    Facilitating Innovation

Cisco holds 19,000 patents, 7,000 of which are for software innovation. It has 25,000 engineers and R&D spend amounts to $6.3 billion.

4.    Public and Private Partnerships

Through the Cisco Country Digitization Acceleration partnership, new and established businesses will gain access and export opportunities to markets worldwide through Cisco’s global distribution channels.

5.    Infrastructure:
Build an infrastructure that gives citizens access to the finest healthcare, city services, education, entertainment and many other areas – all in a highly secure environment.  Today, Cisco is involved in over Smart City/ IoT/IoE projects worldwide, including in the UAE.

With security issues surrounding the Internet now the number 1 priority in the digital era, more and more organizations in the Middle East are increasingly seeing the value of adopting an end to end security approach that is as pervasive as the Internet of Everything (IoE) itself. Cybersecurity solutions need to protect not just networks and devices, but also critical applications and data. Identity-based user and device authentication is critical to securing applications and data across mobile and cloud deployments.

Security is an important discussion within organizations and government bodies. While those discussions continue to evolve, it is important to note that threats to smarter and efficient operations exist right now. In the fourth edition of the GBM Annual Security Study, they focus on regional executives’ awareness and readiness to address these security challenges.

GBM’s Annual Security Study polled 500 IT professionals based in the UAE, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait. One key outcome of the survey is that there is a lack of awareness of the laws and regulations related to cyber security in GCC respondents’ respective countries - 80 per cent of respondents were not aware of the cyber protection laws in their own country.

Additionally, the survey has shown that security breaches in the GCC are on the rise, with one in five participants being aware of a privacy violation in the past 12 months, yet behaviour has changed little in light of increased breaches.

The survey also highlighted that while 80 per cent of executives said they use their personal mobile for work and personal use, less than 10 per cent use appropriate security measures. Meanwhile, 50 per cent of respondents use only one type of security measure to access data on their mobile devices, generally a password or PIN.

Rabih Dabboussi, general manager, Cisco UAE, said: “As we move into an era of complete digitization we need to rethink how we approach national infrastructure on a grand scale.  Digitization has the potential to create sustainable and positive impact for every area of society. At its core, Country Digitization is the process of planning, and ultimately building, a sophisticated and forward-thinking IT network ecosystem that will allow for greater connectivity, productivity and security to drive this positive impact.”

Hani Nofal, vice president, Intelligent Network Solutions, GBM, said: “We are proud to partner with Cisco to deliver secured IoT solutions. Safeguarding organizational operations in light of evolving digitization and the growth of IoT will allow our clients continued growth.  Security must be a foundational enabler for IoT.

“While there has been progress and greater awareness, globally, there needs to be increased consensus as our partnership with Cisco demonstrates. We have a track record of leading the way, and as an early investor in IoT security we once again show our commitment to customer success. The future is digital and we must ensure that the correct security measures are in place in order for government entities, organizations and the general public to feel safe in the technologies that can provide added value to their working and personal lives.”

Paul Black, IoT research lead for MEA, IDC said: “The IoT is going to define how enterprises globally conduct their business over the next 3 years. Organizations in the Middle East and Africa are projected spend more than their global counterparts by 2018 on IoT implementations and projects. In MEA IoT spend is projected to grow by 22 per cent between 2013 and 2018 compared to the 18 per cent globally. Public-private partnerships are also on to be key in shaping IoT business growth and Middle East countries will need to utilize public-private partnerships to support their digital transformation agendas.” - TradeArabia News Service

Tags: Cisco | IDC | GBM | Digitization | IoT |

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