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Disruptive Technologies are Driving Digital Transformation

ArabNet Team, Feb 01 2018

By Miriam Burt, Managing Vice President, Retail, CIO Group of Gartner Inc & Conference Chair Gartner GCC Symposium, Dubai, 5 – 7 March 2018

In this article, Miriam Burt explains why disruptive technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Advanced Analytics and Blockchain are such hot topics in the GCC region.

Governments in the region are leading the charge on Artificial Intelligence (AI). For example, in his most recent cabinet shuffle in 4Q17, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, announced the appointment of Oman bin Sultan Al Olama, 27, as the UAE’s first Minister of State for AI. This is in line with the ‘UAE Strategy for Artificial Intelligence’; a major initiative in the UAE Centennial 2071 objectives. In his speech, Sheikh Mohammed said AI is "the new wave after the Smart Government upon which all our services, sectors and future infrastructure will rely on".

Investing in advanced technologies and AI tools across various sectors from Energy to Education, preparing and training new people for the new jobs landscape as well as implementing laws and legislation governing AI, will all help to provide a strong fundamental backbone on which to deploy the AI workhorse to bring about job creation and strong economic growth in the Gulf region’s future.

A great example of how blockchain is being applied to transform government services is demonstrated by the Smart Dubai initiative. Championed by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, and led by Her Excellency Dr. Aisha Bin Bishr, Director General of the Smart Dubai Office, the goal is to make Dubai the first blockchain-powered government by 2020. Work is underway to take blockchain beyond the financial sector into city-wide services that include healthcare, education, real-estate, starting businesses, energy, mobility and others. H.E. Dr. Aisha Bin Bishr has stated that “First we will create greater efficiencies as some figures show that at least 25 million hours will be saved by decreasing the amount of paper being processed. It will also decrease tons of CO2 emissions but more importantly create an efficient seamless way for transacting services.”

GCC governments are also investing heavily in the Internet of Things (IoT) to becoming ‘smart’, with most regional governments aggressively expanding their adoption of the IoT as they strive to increase efficiencies and increase the quality of the lives of their populations. A total of nine smart city projects are expected in the Gulf nations by 2025.

IoT initiatives include smart transportation, leasing of traffic congestion, smart metering, citizen safety, connected healthcare systems, to name just a few. High IoT adoption rates for smart transportation are anticipated and an early example is the driverless car powered by solar energy in Masdar City, Abu Dhabi. The healthcare market in the region also holds huge potential for the IoT, for example in hospital construction. Oil and Gas, Automotive, Energy and Manufacturing industries are also set to fuel growth in the IoT, for example, to reduce operational and support costs. Data security, however, is a major challenge.

In order to make meaningful decisions to improve people’s quality of life, advanced analytics will have to be applied to the humungous data sets – structured and unstructured - generated, for example, by the IoT as well customer-generated data by the social media-savvy GCC population. This, combined with AI advances in natural language processing and machine learning, will help support advanced analytics use cases in the region for significant improvements in areas such as:

  • Health outcomes in the GCC – for example, predicting indicators for hypertension and diabetes; two key diseases on the increase in the region
  • The quality of teaching through natural language processing
  • Transportation infrastructure, at a fundamental level, for example, by large-scale machine learning to provide better predictive maintenance capability
  • To enhance labor market efficiency, for example, through mobile location analytics to provide insight about the behavior of the growing population of young people in the region as well as improving mobile engagement between employers, governments, and citizens

In a challenging business environment rich in opportunity yet stifled by a lack of skills and resources, gaining inspiration and insight on how to become a top performer is vital for organizations to succeed.

At Gartner GCC Symposium/ITxpo 5 – 7 March 2018 in Dubai, we’ll be discussing the 10 crucial themes needed for successful digital transformation – wherever you are in your journey.

This article is an excerpt from a Q&A with Miriam Burt. Read the full Q&A here.

About Miriam Burt - Managing Vice President, Retail, CIO Group & Conference Chair, Gartner GCC Symposium, Dubai, 5 – 7 March 2018
Miriam Burt is a Managing Vice President with management responsibility for the Retail Industry Advisory Services team. She also has a research portfolio which includes global retail business and technology trends, digital business, multichannel, customer processes, the future of customer experience and how people use technology. Mrs. Burt's technology research areas include Point of Sale, Digitalization of Stores, the IoT, Mobile, Blockchain and AI.

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