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The phygital age This month’s cover star is the CEO and chairman of one of the UAE’s household brands. DP World’s Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem tells CNME about the ways the firm will use Blockchain and AI to enhance operations in its 78 terminals that span the globe, as well as offering insight into the firm’s must-have technologies for the future. More on page 14. On page 20 we hear from Majid Saif Al Ghurair, chairman of Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry, about why Amazon and e-commerce represent a bigger opportunity than a threat to the UAE. As one of the oldest retailers “As one of the in the GCC, Al Tayer Group has its oldest retailers in roots firmly in physical retail, but that’s about to change. Mohamed the GCC, Al Tayer Group has its roots Fayed, senior vice president of omnichannel for the firm, explains firmly in physical how a cloud-driven culture of retail, but that’s innovation is enabling a “phygital” experience for consumers. More on about to change.” page 24. Sharjah Islamic Bank’s senior vice president of IT, Saleem Ahmed, explains his firm’s technological roadmap for the future in the notoriously competitive industry on page 28. Lastly, from everyone at CPI Media Group, a big thanks to Jeevan Thankappan, who has left the company after 13 years of service. We wish him all the best for the future. Talk to us:

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Contents ISSUE 315 | APRIL 2018









32 Eyes on the nation

Staying smart

In partnership with MDS ap, CNME hosted a roundtable discussion with leading IT executives to examine the importance of business intelligence in driving forward an organisation’s digital transformation journey.

44 How Microsoft is solving

"Amazon not a threat to UAE retail"

global issues

Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry chairman Majid Saif Al Ghurair told CNME why he believes e-Commerce platforms are not a threat to the UAE’s physical retailers.

24 Building the GCC retailer of the future



Glesni Holland spoke to Brigadier Khalid Nasser Al Razooqi on the sidelines of ISNR 2018 to discuss Dubai Police's plans to incorporate AI technologies into the emirate’s protection services.

Mohamed Fayed, Al Tayer Group’s senior vice president of omnichannel, on how the firm has created a standalone department to innovate and develop a phygital retail experience of the future.

Microsoft has highlighted how Middle East end-users can tackle some of the world’s most pressing issues through AI, which the firm’s regional head of innovation says is now available to all.

46 A spectator sport

Dimension Data’s Tim Wade discusses how the firm is using technology to make every second count in one of the world’s most popular sporting events - the Tour de France.

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Intel Centrino


ifteen years ago, laptops weren’t seen as the truly portable computing devices that they are today - partly down to the fact the majority of them required

modem cards or Bluetooth-connected phones in order to reach the Internet. But Intel sought to change this. Enter the Centrino combined chipset; the networking processor launched in 2003 that could transform portable computers into, well, just that. IDC reported that in the year prior to Centrino’s launch, notebook shipments hit 30.5 million – accounting for 23.5 percent of all the PCs shipped that year. Laptop sales were on the rise, and Intel decided that if it was to pursue not only the chipmaking venture, but also push forward sales of

notebooks, it needed to tackle two issues: improving laptop battery life, and making wireless connectivity accessible to the mass market. Transmeta, a firm that suddenly entered the market in the early 2000s had created a processor specifically designed for low power consumption – yet it failed to really take off due to low performance. Nevertheless, Intel’s response to this was “Banias” - the codename for the first-generation Pentium M Centrino processor, which was said to exceed the performance of older models, while allowing for laptops to operate on a “4 to 5-hour” battery life. Banias also sparked the creation of a new line of thinner and lighter laptops, because its components did not dispel much heat and therefore did not require large cooling systems, as previously found in many PC designs. While the Pentium M was the first to be designed from the ground up as a dedicated laptop chip, as opposed to a low-power version of an existing desktop processor, the key part of the Centrino platform was Intel’s Pro Wireless 2100B Wi-Fi adapter – termed Calexico, for short. Initially, Intel created the adapter that only allowed laptop vendors to use the Centrino brand if their system had Intel components across WiFi, processor and chipset. In time, Intel converted the wireless adapter to a Mini PCI card, which eventually allowed a third-party card to be fitted instead.


APRIL 2018


CNME-MDS ap roundtable

STAYING SMART CNME hosted a roundtable discussion in partnership with MDS ap last month, gathering leading IT executives to examine the importance of business intelligence in driving forward an organisation’s digital transformation journey.


eaping the benefits from business intelligence requires more than implementing the technology that enables it, according to the Middle East’s IT leaders. During a closed-room roundtable discussion, hosted in collaboration with MDSap last month, a collection of IT heads from a range of industries – such as logistics, retail, hospitality and recruitment – came together to share their BI experiences. Samir Abi-Frem, corporate VP of IT at Rotana Hotels, discussed how business intelligence was now crucial for all organisations. “Regardless 8

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of your business’ size, industry or location, we’re all facing external and internal pressures to compete, and innovation now needs to be the top priority for CIOs across the board. In hospitality, we’re up against the biggest accommodation provider globally – and they own no hotels, so digital transformation is no longer an option for us.” He went on to add that despite the hotel industry often being perceived as being a “slow adopter” of innovative technology – typically operating on legacy systems with poor integration levels – the decision to move forward with implementing

a BI solution last year has enabled Rotana to gain real-time insights into operations from both a customer and corporate level. “Previously, we were spending a lot of time and resources on generating reports and analysis. We were using spreadsheets that could only provide us with a static view of this data, but since upgrading our system with business intelligence tools, we are able to quickly access a simple dashboard with all of this consolidated data in clear view,” he said. Adam Lalani, group head of IT at Tristar, could relate to Frem’s new-found capabilities thanks to the

Samir Abi-Frem, corporate vice president of IT, Rotana Hotels Adam Lalani, group head of IT, Tristar

company’s BI implementation. “I don’t like to use terms like Big Data, because for me, it’s just new money for old rope – it’s rebranding something that’s been around for a long time,” he said. “However, I know from our own implementations that when it comes to BI, I was suddenly able to gain visibility on a range of things I’d not had the chance to before. For example, if we had an

Akram Assaf, co-founder & CTO,

operating unit in Saudi that I had heard wasn’t doing very well, I now had the opportunity at my fingertips to see and understand trends as to why that may be happening.”

In hospitality, we’re up against the biggest accommodation provider globally – and they own no hotels, so digital transformation is no longer an option for us. Samir Abi-Frem, corporate VP of IT, Rotana Hotels

Akram Assaf, co-founder and CTO of, discussed the challenges he – and various others in the room – had felt during their BI journey. “The Big Data reality that we’re all working towards is ensuring we consolidate and maximise the most value out of this asset. Take Uber for example, with its automatically adjusting payment structure. The reality is that deploying that kind of flow into an organisation is usually the biggest challenge,” he said. At, Assaf added that because analysing the supply and demand in the market was the “crux of their business,” BI tools had come in use by simplifying the process of identifying the right candidate for a particular role. “Every dollar I spend on acquiring a new candidate needs to make sure that it is the right fit for an employer’s role, and our BI tools now automatically trigger the right candidate on particular platforms. Nevertheless, when you begin to collect all of the extra dimensions – such as CRM, and unstructured data – this is when the friction of the data becomes higher, resulting in additional challenges.” APRIL 2018



ManageEngine GCC roadshow

OPERATION: TRANSFORMATION The changing role of IT in the era of digital transformation was the topic of discussion as CNME partnered with ManageEngine for a three-part roadshow which touched down in Kuwait City, Manama and Riyadh.


T and business leaders from across the GCC gathered to assess the state of digitalisation for ManageEngine’s three-part conference, where a range of insightful presentations made it clear that digital

We’ve seen AI algorithms being used effectively by the likes of Facebook and Google, but we’re now talking about bringing that to IT management.


APRIL 2018

transformation is no longer a fad, but a reality across all businesses. Gibu Mathew, ManageEngine’s director of product management, who spoke at all three legs of the roadshow, highlighted the trend of “AIops” and how the ability to bring artificial intelligence to IT teams would reduce human error and increase simplicity. “We’ve seen AI algorithms being used effectively by the likes of Facebook and Google, but we’re now talking about bringing that to IT management,” he said. “AIops is about bringing simplicity to IT. It’s about being more efficient, and is one way to help automate decisions. AI is about facilitating the human role to deliver automated decisions. There is a need for AIops because change is happening so quickly – faster than most companies can keep up with.” The first guest speaker of the Kuwait leg was Tariq Al-Osaimi, chief digital officer for National Bank of Kuwait. As CDO, Osaimi explained, he is expected to take charge of transforming the entire

bank’s operations to digital, which is no small feat for a bank the size of NBK. While a CDO tends to be a reasonably new role within an organisation, Osaimi quoted a PwC statistic that claims 38 percent of EMEA companies now have a CDO – demonstrating a 60 percent growth on figures from 2017. But it is not as simple as just assigning an individual to take charge of driving this new transformative era, Al-Osaimi explained. “When we first brought in email, we never needed a chief email officer,” he said. “The threat back then wasn’t facing our entire entity, as digital is today. There are now so many things a CDO has to consider, that you need the cooperation of the entire senior management if you are to truly make a difference.” Rami Al-Haddad, group IT director for National Aviation Services, gave an interesting spin on the value of IT in the transformation of a business. He said that businesses must invest in their IT departments while also giving them the capacity to execute

projects for four reasons: to enable growth, cut costs, optimise operations or ensure compliance. And for a company operating in over 13 countries and across 35 international airports, handling over 85,000 flights annually, Al-Haddad believes that going digital is “no longer an option, but a fierce reality” for NAS. “Digital transformation is happening, and it will continue to be pushed for – if not by IT, then by consumers who simply demand it or they’ll go to your competition,” he said. In Bahrain, on the second leg of the conference, IT leaders unanimously agreed that the role of CIO will be fundamentally altered as a result of the increasing wave of digitalisation in the region. The event was kicked off by Dr Jassim Haji, ex-CIO of Gulf Air and a renowned digital transformation expert, who spoke in detail about the future of connected devices. “We are talking about 75 billion IoT devices by 2025,"

he said. "However, no one knows how this is going to be governed, or what the risks associated with these connected devices are.” Dr Haji added that the Middle East region is going to witness the biggest revolution as a result of digital transformation. “A case in point is the NEOM digital city coming up in Saudi Arabia. Though the initial estimates suggest that it will cost $500 billion to build this city, eventually the cost could go up to a trillion dollars, and it will boast technologies that are not even available in Europe.” Khalid Jalal, senior group ICT manager of Garmco, one of the largest downstream aluminium facilities in the region, shared his lessons learned from the initiatives in his company. “If you look at this region, most organisations don’t have the skills and budgets to achieve digital transformation,” he said. “For us, the goal is to go digital,

and bridge the gap between business models and customer expectations.” As part of its plan, Garmco has already moved some of its key applications to cloud. “The ultimate goal of digital transformation is customer empowerment, be it internal or external. At the same time, governance in terms of security, risk management and compliance are also very important,” added Jalal. At the Marriott Hotel in Riyadh, meanwhile, ManageEngine looked to explore how a range of tools could help to empower IT teams by automating back-end processes. Kicking off proceedings was King Faisal University associate professor Abdul Al Lily, who discussed the concept of “Business 2.0”, the idea that in an online world, services could become a new currency. “Now that the world is online, users are less frequently paying for some of the services they use the most, like Facebook and Google,” he said. “This opens up fascinating prospects for the future. Maybe the future economy will be built around users paying for goods not with money, but with other digital services.” Javed Abbasi, principal consultant for Gisba, discussed how governance, along with the right applications and infrastructure, were essential if organisations are to successful meet their digital aspirations. “The thing that most IT projects are severely lacking is the right governance,” he said. “You need to have the right tools and frameworks in order to meet your overall objectives.” APRIL 2018



Mobile World Congress 2018


Gathering more than 100,000 attendees from across the globe to Barcelona’s Fira Gran Via every year, Mobile World Congress is a staple in the tech world's calendar. This year, the event saw a collection of new product launches, including the long-awaited Samsung Galaxy S9. Glesni Holland reports.


his year, under the theme ‘Creating a Better Future,’ the Congress was dominated by all things autonomous, with 5G and self-driving cars taking centre stage for a large proportion of the event’s discussions. A bullish Rajeev Suri, CEO of Nokia, confidently stated at a press conference prior to day one of the event that his company was best placed to gain from the burgeoning demand for 5G deployments around the world. He said that 5G was gaining traction much faster than the company had anticipated, and fully expected largescale commercial 12

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deployments to take place by the end of this year or early in 2019. Nokia also chose MWC to rerelease the classic Nokia 8110, which was nicknamed the “banana phone” back in 1996 following its initial launch due to its prominent curved case. Back with a bang, the 8110 made a name for itself in Barcelona because of its bright yellow appearance – perfectly in tune with its banana nickname. It is also equipped with 4G capabilities, a revamped version of Snake and claims to have a huge battery life of up to 25 days. Elsewhere at the Congress, SAP announced an array of new partnerships

with MasterCard, HERE and Postmates to further enhance its Vehicle Network solution. As the driving force behind the company’s connected car portfolio, Timo Stelzer said that SAP provides the “one-stop shop” for an all-round, seamless driving experience. The latest round of partnerships is set to enable consumers with access to parking, fuelling, food, navigation and payment services from their driving seat. MasterCard will leverage its technology to enable safe and secure payments – allowing drivers to pay for parking through HERE’s extensive mapping network, and food deliveries

Fernando Alonso, double F1 world champion

will be conducted through Postmates’ on-demand courier system. Despite currently being focused on the US and European markets with this solution, Stelzer maintains that SAP is willing to go “wherever the demand is for this solution,” and hasn’t ruled out the Middle East. On day two, double Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso featured on a panel discussion on the topic of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. “The sport has always been a laboratory for experimental technologies, and today generates an almost incomprehensible amount of data,” said Alonso. “Every single movement we do with the car, every steering wheel input, every throttle input, or brake pressure input is transmitted immediately in real

time to staff at the team’s headquarters in the UK, who study and analyse the data to provide us with the information that we need to improve our efficiency when we are driving.” But Formula 1 cars weren’t the only vehicles being discussed during the Congress, as a number of firms put their stamp on the impending autonomous era with their self-driving vehicle displays. Among them was SK Telecom, the South-Korean based firm that was showcasing its 5G autonomous car, equipped with 11 cameras, numerous sensors and HD mapping. “Accuracy is paramount when discussing autonomous vehicles,” said Julia Perez Arquillo, staff exhibitor, SK Telecom. “A basic GPS can locate us with an accuracy of 2 to 10 metres, and the new Galileo system promises an accuracy of 4 metres. But, SK Telecom’s autonomous model has an accuracy margin of 25 centimetres – meaning it boasts some of the best safety and reliability scores on the market today.” The car has undergone intense testing in a controlled “city” environment – known as ‘K-City’, in South Korea. But the company has

big plans to expand beyond its Korean boundaries when the technology is made commercially available, and the Middle East is most certainly on the telco’s radar. “The plan is to commercialise the autonomous technology by 2022, and have the entire package on the market – including the Hyundai car, by 2025, when we plan to go global,” added Arquillo. In Hall 7, UK-based firm pureLiFi launched its LiFi enabled phone sleeve, created to operate with a Samsung Galaxy phone, before using it to carry out the “world’s first” mobile Skype call using a LiFi network. “By adopting LiFi, users will be subjected to a much higher quality network, with a much better share of the bandwidth when comparing speeds to WiFi,” said Mostafa Afgani, co-founder and CTO, pureLiFi. “With WiFi, you could have 15-20 users across a large area competing for bandwidth. But with LiFi, because each light only covers a very limited space – though each unit supports 8 users, suddenly you’re only competing with three to four users.” The LiFi network also tops WiFi in terms of network security, according to Afgani. “You have to be physically present to intercept the data, which would make your hacker very visible,” he said. APRIL 2018



Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, DP World CEO

HOW DP WORLD IS SHAPING ITS FUTURE WITH TECHNOLOGY DP World CEO and chairman Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem tells CNME how the firm is using technology to make its operations faster, and ensure it continues to innovate in the impending age of Blockchain, AI and Hyperloop.


APRIL 2018

Technology is everywhere, and things like automation and robotics aren’t there because we like technology, but because they now dictate our business,” DP World CEO Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem says. The world’s fourth largest port operator is now intent on delivering logistics services that can match demands of the digital age. “We are now looking at Blockchain, and how we can enhance our supply chain with it and remove inefficiencies. We’re currently launching many technologies to enhance our IT services, including logistics platforms. Today, consumers and suppliers are our biggest driver for change, and the cargo industry is prioritising ways it can reduce shipping times. We see opportunities and efficiencies through technology, so investing in it is an absolute necessity for us. We need it, and needing it means having things like artificial intelligence.” DP World has been on a drive to enhance its global footprint, and technology is set to be a critical pillar in the smooth operation of its 78 marine and inland terminals across 40 countries. The global trade and supply chain firm operates businesses ranging from marine and inland terminals, maritime services, logistics and ancillary services to technology-driven trade solutions. Container handling is the firm’s core business, which generates more than three quarters of its revenue, which was just announced to have hit $4.7 billion for 2017. In 2016, DP World handled around 70 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units) across its portfolio, and its current gross capacity of 88 million TEU is expected to rise to more than 100 million by 2020. Bin Sulayem says there are five key technological areas that the firm

APRIL 2018



Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, DP World CEO

has prioritised and will be monitoring closely over the coming years. “We’re seeing five types of tech innovation in our industry,” he says. “Robotics and automation; autonomous vehicles; Internet of Things and Big Data; simulation and virtual reality; and cybersecurity. In employing these technologies in our business, we’re also able to review their efficiencies.” In the last 18 months, the hype around what can be achieved with Blockchain has been incessant, and bin Sulayem is a clear believer that it will have a significant impact not only on DP World, but on business at large. “Blockchain will bring visibility of goods in transit like never before, and by 2027, it could store up to 10% of global GDP,” he says. Bin Sulayem adds that, when combined with two other major trends, the movement of goods will be significantly enhanced. “Supply chain intelligence, Blockchain and artificial intelligence will make the global supply chain faster, cheaper and more productive. Digital supply chains also have the potential to reduce process costs by 50%, procurement by 20% and increase revenue by 10%. All this requires new skills, new jobs, so our industry is creating demand for thinkers and visionaries.” DP World has recently announced a deal with India’s National Investment and Infrastructure Fund to jointly invest 16

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We will only go with technologies we can deploy effectively, which will benefit our customers.

up to $3 billion in the country, which will explore alternative ways of transporting cargo to hard-to-reach places, including via inland waterways. Bin Sulayem has also recently met with a range of world leaders, including Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko and Peruvian PM Mercedes Aráoz to explore various trade issues and infrastructure opportunities. In Africa, meanwhile, DP World signed an MoU with the government of Mali to develop a transportation and logistics strategy with electronic customs processes, replicating DP World’s successful model with Dubai Trade at its flagship Jebel Ali

Port and Free Zone in Dubai. Complementing bin Sulayem’s extensive overseas work with a range of world leaders, DP World has worked to deliver a range of technology services across the globe that can benefit their localised operations in each country. The firm has delivered an “Uber-like” service that in the Dominican Republic, which allows truck drivers to collect cargo based on their preferred travel routes. DP World’s efforts to make trade more efficient can also be seen at its Rotterdam World Gateway in the Netherlands, where no staff work on the port’s quay side. Instead, they sit in a control room, using joysticks to operate remote-controlled quay cranes. The fully automated facility employs driverless cars, and is the “world’s most advanced port”, according to bin Sulayem. Similar technologies have been deployed at its flagship Jebel Ali port in Dubai. While many organisations have made a habit of flaunting their technology ambitions and projects, DP World’s technology strategy is set to be one built around necessity, and not by showpiece products or services. “We won’t buy nice-to-have technologies,” bin Sulayem says. “At the end of the day, we will only go with technologies we can deploy effectively, which will benefit our customers. Today, business opportunities come from ideas.


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Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, DP World CEO

Problems create ideas, we need IT solutions to solve those problems.” As part of this common-sense approach, DP World believes that jumping on the bandwagon for certain technologies is not always beneficial. “Investing in the right innovative ideas and tech solutions at the right time is part of our strategy,” bin Sulayem says. “Digital standardisation is a key component of our global strategy to ensure we’re one step ahead of new technologies that are disrupting our sector. Delivering value to our customers is in our DNA and enables us to maintain a competitive edge.” DP World recently announced a partnership with Oracle to drive a new digital transformation programme across its worldwide business operations, and bin Sulayem believes the partnership will be a huge step to fulfilling its digital transformation objectives. “Employing cloud applications that can increase efficiency, create new services and support diversification will add value for all our stakeholders and aid our vision to become a digitised global trade enabler,” he says. “The standardisation of our processes has always been our


APRIL 2018

Employing cloud applications that can increase efficiency, create new services and support diversification will add value for all our stakeholders and aid our vision to become a digitised global trade enabler.

focus, as it’s key to enabling the flow of goods. We strive to lead the future of world trade and this requires connected infrastructure, and in this dynamic digital age, it’s essential that we keep

up with our customers’ growing needs. As global trade becomes increasingly digitalised, our stakeholders also require agile tech infrastructure that can integrate quickly and seamlessly.” DP World is also exploring ways that it can transport goods at lightning speed to its customers. The firm participated in the latest $50 million funding round for Virgin Hyperloop One, the pod-based transportation firm which will be able to transport passengers from Dubai to Abu Dhabi in 12 minutes and is now chaired by Virgin Group founder Richard Branson. Bin Sulayem sits on the board of Virgin Hyperloop One, and he believes DP World’s involvement with the project is a sign of its desire for breakneck speed and innovation. “Our partnership with Hyperloop One is another example of our effort to explore ideas that have the potential to strengthen and disrupt the future transport and logistics sector,” he says. “We know that customer expectations are increasing rapidly – everyone needs their goods faster, with more flexibility and all at a competitive cost. We aim to anticipate our customers’ needs, so that’s why we’re exploring disruptive technologies like Hyperloop and 3D printing.”

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Majid Saif Al Ghurair

“AMAZON NOT A THREAT TO UAE RETAIL” Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry chairman Majid Saif Al Ghurair told CNME why he believes e-Commerce platforms are not a threat to the UAE’s physical retailers, and how Amazon’s startling rise will present an opportunity to the country.


APRIL 2018


ajid Saif Al Ghurair has said that the imminent rise of Amazon in the Middle East poses more of an opportunity than a threat, and that traditional retailers do not fear growing e-commerce players. Speaking to CNME at the launch of the Retail Business Group, a new organisation that aims to promote cooperation among traditionally physical retailers in Dubai, Al Ghurair said that the rise of the online shopping giant will open up new avenues in a range of adjacent industries, as well as benefiting traditional retail. The Retail Business Group aims to promote cooperation among retailers in Dubai, “serve common interests” and promote transparency within the sector. The organisation is the 29th sector-specific business group established under the umbrella of Dubai Chamber. By supporting the Group, the Chamber says that it aims to protect the interests of retailers in Dubai, and provide a platform for industry stakeholders to collaborate. The Group will address common

There is no feeling of fear from traditional retailers towards e-commerce players.

concerns of members and retailers in the emirate, raising industry standards, sharing best business practices, organising and supporting retail-related events. Consumer spending in the UAE is expected to grow by 4.1% in 2018, according to recent a forecast from Business Monitor International, while the

number of tourists visiting the country is projected to grow at an average annual rate of 5.7% over the next four years to reach 24.3 million by 2021. “There is no feeling of fear from traditional retailers towards e-commerce players,” Al Ghurair said. “We’ve been in continuous discussions with pure e-commerce players, and this new platform we’ve created is for both industries. The time is not right yet for them to be part of this group, but they are open to participate. If it’s needed in future, we would set up a pureplay e-commerce group, but there are currently very few players.” Al Ghurair went on to add that following Amazon’s $600 million acquisition of Dubai-based e-commerce platform, as well as its cloud computing division Amazon Web Services opening a Middle East and North Africa office in Dubai – both in 2017 – the technology giant should not be regarded as a threat to UAE retail. “I think Amazon will create more opportunities in the market,” he said. “Even retailers, and local retail

APRIL 2018



Majid Saif Al Ghurair

brands, want a platform to market their product, so you cannot ignore them. They are now one of the biggest online retailers, so we need to work with them. They will add a new level of businesses to the region – not just in retail, but also in logistics and trans-shipment industries. They will also use Dubai as their hub to reach other markets. “Whether or not e-commerce players will significantly disrupt traditional retailers has been a major question. Everybody has said they will be disrupted, and this has been said for many years. Retail is not just about the merchandise, but the whole experience of going to a shopping mall. If you ask the younger generation, maybe they prefer online shopping, so there’s room for both.” Al Ghurair identified retail as one of the main engines of growth fuelling the UAE’s economy, and revealed that the country’s physical retail sector is projected to expand by nearly 5% over the next few years to reach $71 billion by 2021. The establishment of the Retail Business Group will help Chamber promote the interests of retailers in Dubai, he said, adding that the group would create a new platform where industry leaders 22

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If it’s needed in future, we would set up a pureplay e-commerce group, but there are currently very few players.

can foster constructive dialogue and fruitful cooperation. “The group itself will come together to push the growth of retail in Dubai and the UAE,” he said. “We want to attract international brands, and to open up the market. The focus may now be on certain European and American brands, but I think a new market is open for Asian and African brands, and we’re seeing more brands coming from there. We have to get an overall international flavour. We are confident that the Retail Business Group will achieve great things and further strengthen

Dubai’s position as one of the world’s top shopping destinations.” The new group will liaise and coordinate the calendar of sale and promotions with Dubai Tourism, the Dubai Shopping Festival Office and the Department of Economic Development throughout the calendar year. The Group is being led by the steering committee, which comprises Al Tayer Group, Apparel Group, Azadea, Chalhoub Group, Dubai Duty Free, Giordano, Lals Group, Landmark Group, and Seddiqi Holdings. Nilesh Ved, chairman of the Retail Business Group, said, “Modern retail has become more and more competitive, and this kind of growth requires a different focus for retailers to be able to co-exist and thrive. Our mission is to advance the interests of the retail ecosystem through communications, education and brining in omnichannel strategies.” A leading body of commerce in the Middle East, Dubai Chamber aims to strengthen cooperation between Dubai’s public and private sectors. The Chamber has established 49 countryspecific business councils and 29 sector-specific business groups under its umbrella, which reflect the diversity of the emirate’s business community.


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Mohamed Fayed, Al Tayer Group

AL TAYER: THE GCC RETAILER OF THE FUTURE Mohamed Fayed, Al Tayer Group’s senior vice president of omnichannel, tells CNME how the GCC's leading luxury retailer has created a standalone department to innovate and develop a phygital shopping experience of the future.


APRIL 2018


ow do you see technology reshaping the retail industry? The rate of change in our industry is unprecedented. We’ve got Moore’s Law doubling computing power every 18 months. The cost of technology is coming down by about 30%, which puts a lot of capability in the hands of companies. Deploying services like visual or audio search that would’ve taken 24 months of development, or millions of dollars of CAPEX, can be deployed in a couple of clicks. Services offer a very low cost of entry. You’re seeing innovation in emerging markets at unprecedented rates, which brings a lot of convenience to the end user. You’ve got advances in machine learning, deep learning and AI, and can process data lightning fast, and all of that translates to a far richer customer experience in our stores. How has the user experience become more important in driving change? It’s an incredible time to be a part of, and as retailers, we’re very attuned to customer demand. Stores are no longer a transactional touch point where they walk in, select what they

want, pay and walk out. They have become experiential. Customers want to feel good about what they’re buying. They want heritage of the brand, and a high touch, white glove approach. They want the merger of physical and digital into a phygital touchpoint, whether it’s something that they do on social media or over an app, wanting that to translate into an experience in the store. It has to be consistent; they have to be recognised as an individual rather than a segment, and they want a personalised experience. They demand that the retailer know who they are, what they like and what they don’t like, and customise the experience accordingly. How has user expectation shifted in recent years? Our time perception has changed drastically. To give you a flavour of that, today, with Uber or Careem, if you request a car and it’s 10 minutes away, you huff and puff. Only a year or so ago you’d have to stand on the street corner and hail a cab, and if it took 25 minutes you’d be pretty satisfied. As we start collapsing these friction points, whether it’s hailing a cab, buying something in the mall or

Customers have to be recognised as an individual rather than a segment, and they want a personalised experience.

ordering food, consumer demands readjust and it becomes a higher bar to meet. It forces more innovation and the flywheel keeps going on and on. Why did you select Amazon Web Services as your cloud partner? The three big cloud players – Google, AWS and Microsoft – are represented in the region, but I would say AWS has a first-mover advantage. When they approached us, it became a symbiotic relationship which was very transparent. They’re incentivised to be strategically aligned to our operation and to reduce cost at every junction. They have a tremendous knowledge base and are very comfortable sharing other retailers’ and other clients’ experiences. They’re a capable partner that’s always there when we need them. Was their lack of an office an issue in the Middle East when you first partnered with them three years ago? To be honest, it was initially. When you compare them to Microsoft, who, with Office 365, have hundreds, if not thousands of employees on the ground. AWS were transparent with us to share their plans to reinforce their boots on the ground. While we had a handful of individuals working with us, their calls to the mothership and ability to draw on resources worldwide made it seamless. They always found the resources we needed access to. As head of omnichannel, how closely do you work with Al Tayer’s CIO? Part of any digital transformation is to suffer the corporate immune system’s rejection of fast innovation, so one of the decisions we made early APRIL 2018



Mohamed Fayed, Al Tayer Group

on was to ringfence the omnichannel team away from the traditional functions of retail. This was to ensure that omnichannel had the sandbox to innovate as fast as we needed to without being bogged down by the bureaucracy and red tape that come with a very established 25year old traditional retailer. We’re largely insulated from all the existing functions today, including the IT department, which is run by Frank Watts. We’re a completely standalone organisation. We don’t collaborate when it comes down to omnichannel, but there are a few threads such as security or being PCI-compliant, but other than that our technology stack, infrastructure and network are independent. We’ve been given a lot of latitude to diversify from the traditional path at Al Tayer Group. What are your thoughts on the rise of digital competitors across the retail and e-commerce space? There have definitely been some interesting announcements made 26

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One casino on the strip isn’t enough, but a whole bunch of them on the strip creates Las Vegas.

over the last 12 months or so. You also have other traditional retailers upgrading their capabilities to include digital channels. I really believe it will create a casino effect. One casino on the strip isn’t enough, but a whole bunch of them on the strip creates Las Vegas. This will be interesting to educate consumers and to create a faster reach to maturity and a bigger

penetration for digital. I genuinely believe the pie is big enough for all of us to be comfortable. Creating value by offering choice is the ultimate consumer delivery. Looking ahead, does Al Tayer see its future as being a marriage of physical and digital retail? Absolutely. I think stores in their current nature will evolve and be less transactional and more experiential. You’re seeing that trend take off in the US now, with stores like Nordstrom changing the inventory list, which allows you to order things to your house while you enjoy a cup of coffee, yet you can still see the merchandise. I think the nature of the store will change, but will it always be an important part of the customer journey. Digital will continue to see a penetration increase, as we go from two to 10 to 15 and 20%. As more and more technology like VR comes in you will see the quick advancement of these touchpoints into a higher penetration of digital transactions. Phygital will be the destination.


Steve Miranda, Oracle

The future of AIbased apps Steve Miranda, Oracle's executive vice president, of applications product development explains how AIembedded business apps can benefit the enterprise, why change is needed to keep pace with the future and how the tech giant is helping its products think for themselves.


o you think Oracle is now considered as one of the world’s leading AI companies, along with the likes of Google, Facebook and Microsoft? A lot of tech companies receive publicity because they’re introducing consumerdriven products, which is where they’re strongest. We’ve always been strong on the business apps side of things, so where we’re investing is not necessarily in things like natural language support, where Siri and Alexa are getting better. We’re working on business-driven algorithms – who you’re going to sell to, what’s the best offer for that employee, what’s the best payment to make to a given supplier. As our customers use our apps, they’ll feed and improve our algorithms. There’s no way of catching up with some of these tech companies in the consumer business, because their algorithms get better and better because they have more consumers. Is the UAE’s appointment of the world’s first minister of AI a risk given its global exposure? It’s an unknown, but it’s better to move and go forward rather than be left behind. I think it’s a bigger risk for the UAE and other organisations to do nothing while the world is changing, rather than to have some investment and figure out what the future may hold. No, I don’t think it’s a 28

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big risk. It would be more of a risk not to invest in the future of technology. Are advanced AI solutions an affordable and realistic prospect for Middle East enterprises? I’ve been quite surprised at the expectation of customers in this region, who already expect AI to be there today. Our approach is to take AI and embed it into applications. We could charge for apps on top of our database, but as with everything, we can’t charge unless the customer will see value, either from cost savings or growth. What kinds of extra services can customers expect from your apps as a result of embedded AI? We have AI-specific applications, like Next Best Offer and Next Best Action. Within our existing apps, we now also have AI-driven navigation. When an office admin logs in on Friday afternoon at 5pm, it will log in to their timecard. We now give AI-driven recommendations, which will be pervasive throughout our existing apps. We’re rethinking everything in terms of AI – financials, CRM, HR apps. On the database side, last October, we announced our Autonomous Database, an AI-driven database which does maintenance and is self-sustaining. We host it on behalf of our customers. Anything you would typically have a database administrator doing, from

maintaining and sizing or performance tuning, we’ve used AI to take that work away and make it 100% autonomous. It’s a lot less expensive and more reliable as it eliminates human error. What kind of investment has that needed from you in terms of skills and infrastructure? It revolves around four components, three of which are brand new to Oracle. First is data. We’ve done a tonne of acquisitions of companies that aggregate data, including personal data for marketing and sales purposes. We’re using that data to drive the AI. Second is compute power. Apps are running in data centres so that you can have the AI learn at a faster rate, so there’s that investment in terms of cloud-based apps and infrastructure. Third is data scientists, who, along with existing product managers, can put into practice what the data is telling you and what the AI is recommending, the use cases of how it can affect the application. Data scientists are a brand-new area of investment to Oracle. Fourth is the applications themselves. We build recommendations which surface within the app. The app takes action on them, then that’s what we use to feed the app, which gets better over time. Then of course, our SaaSbased applications, which have been augmented for the AI piece.


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Sharjah Islamic Bank


Saleem Ahmed's extensive IT background landed him the job as Sharjah Islamic Bank’s senior vice president of IT in April last year. Now, twelve months into the role, he reflects on the progress that has been made so far, and the steps SIB now plans to take to become a digital bank of the future.


APRIL 2018


ith more than 23 years of IT experience, Saleem Ahmed is no stranger to the disruptive effect that emerging technologies can have on an industry as tech-heavy as banking and finance. And now, more than ever, the pressure is on for banks across the Middle East to stay ahead of the digital transformation wave if they are to remain competitive and become a consumer’s one-stop-shop for convenient financial services. Having graduated as a mechanical engineer in India back in 1990, Ahmed initially pursued a five-year career in manufacturing for Larsen & Toubro, where his desire for technology really grew. “I was given the opportunity to automate an entire inventory management system, and this really sparked my interest to pursue a career in technology,” he says. From there, he moved to Saudi Arabia, and spent the following 17 years climbing the ranks at what was formerly Citibank-owned Saudi American Bank – now known as SAMBA. Among his most notable

projects completed during his lengthy tenure at the bank, Ahmed worked closely with large corporations, including Saudi Aramco, and went on to automate the company’s initiation of transactions to the bank using its ERP system. “We were tasked with this project around 15 years ago, and asked to complete it in a crash timeframe of 30 days,” he says. “We accepted the challenge, and it was a very satisfying and valuable experience for all involved. From there, I believe we were then able to market ourselves as a single banking window for any customer – regardless of size or stature, so it was a great achievement for the bank at the time.” Continuing with his passion for technology, and building on his extensive experience from SAMBA, Ahmed then moved to First Abu Dhabi Bank – formerly First Gulf Bank prior the merger with NBAD last year. There, he fronted the evolving relationship between the business and the IT department, and believes it “set the standard” as to how IT should be treated.

The IT department has now embarked on bringing business value through contributing to establishing new, revenue-generating IT solutions moving forward.

“We’re no longer just note-takers,” he says. “The IT department has now embarked on bringing business value through contributing to establishing new, revenue-generating IT solutions moving forward.” Almost a year ago, Ahmed was appointed as senior vice president of IT at Sharjah Islamic Bank. But in the last twelve months alone, he has already begun laying the foundations to pioneer SIB as a major player in the digital banking space of the future. “Within the first six months of my appointment, we were the first Islamic bank to launch Samsung Pay in the Middle East,” he says. “While this is a great achievement in itself, I also believe it is a testimony to our ability to mentor high-performing teams and leading them toward bigger and better things.” Integrating Samsung Pay into the bank’s offerings has been just one of the many initiatives under Ahmed that SIB hopes to develop in its bid to be at the forefront of digital banking technology. “We’re lucky, as there is tremendous encouragement for the digital initiatives from SIB’s senior management as they really do see this as the need of the hour,” he says. The overarching theme of SIB’s plan is to encourage a digitally driven attitude throughout the bank to ultimately ensure that consumers are provided with end-to-end banking services at their convenience. Robotic process automation (RPA) is set to play a major role within the bank’s plans going forward. “We intend to use RPA to automate mundane operational steps, which will help in increasing throughput and increasing operational efficiency and reduce the scope for human error,” he says. However, he maintains that RPA should be regarded as a considerable change management APRIL 2018



Sharjah Islamic Bank

journey across any organisation, and one that requires rigorous planning and execution. In a bid to broaden the bank’s reach to the wider UAE community, SIB launched an ATM machine earlier this year that is specifically catered to meet the needs of people with visual and mobility impairments. As part of the bank’s work with Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services, the AI-enabled machine allows individuals with such impairments to take control of their finances without the dependence on others. “It’s easy to use, and individuals can be assured that they’re well protected when using the machine, as it is kitted out with various privacy features and additional cameras,” says Ahmed. He goes onto add that examining the use of artificial intelligence and various other emerging technologies is now undeniably a focus for the IT department, but maintains that despite the buzz surrounding the tech trends we’re seeing today, hype will 32

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In my experience, taking care of your people and providing them with an environment to contribute their ideas has to remain one of your core principles of your corporate life.

not get the better of him. “I am very much in touch with all of these latest technologies, but I always question the practicality and sustainability of their purpose,” he says. “We could just follow buzzwords, ride the digital transformation wave and opt to implement them as soon as they come to market, but we want to remain grounded and adopt technologies which are sufficiently mature in their lifecycle – that is our ethos.” However, SIB is already beginning to see the benefits of incorporating AI into its strategies, and is currently in the process of carrying out a POC for an AI-enabled chatbot. “Data is power today,” he says. “And this bot will go beyond the simple questionanswer format with a customer inquiring about their balances, and will instead analyse the customer’s account, assess the state of their finances before offering them a range of potential investment options based on the customer data the bot has already obtained and analysed.”


Dr Abdul Al Lily, King Faisal University

HOW THE ECONOMY WILL TRANSFORM IN THE DIGITAL AGE Humanity’s conventional way of doing business could soon evolve into an age where consumers offer digitally driven services to businesses, instead of paying with money, according to a leading Saudi professor.


n Amazon bestselling author, and associate professor of technology, education and sociology at Saudi Arabia’s King Faisal University, Dr Abdul Al Lily has written a number of internationally celebrated books, including The Bro Code Culture of Saudi Arabia – which has been translated into Chinese and 34

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Spanish, and discusses behavioural norms in the Kingdom. He has now claimed that advances in technology, combined with markets for new types of digital services, will create a whole host of new ways that consumers can obtain goods and services without forking out their hard-earned cash. “The traditional trading model has

dominated human society for a long time, yet there has not been a serious attempt to find an alternative,” Al Lily told CNME. “Although education and technology have made customers remarkably more able than ever before, businesses have not yet exploited their ability, and have focused only on the capital of customers.”

Al Lily believes that consumers could offer more than just currency. “In this service-to-service economy, instead of a business offering a service to a customer in exchange for money, the customer offers a service in return to the business,” he says. “By implementing this model, the concentration of businesses will shift from thinking about how to get customers’ money, to thinking about how to utilise customers’ human - social and intellectual potential. Hopefully, there will be a transformation from efforts which currently exploit the monetary capital of customers, to efforts to use their human capital.” Al Lily offers a vivid metaphor for the service-to-service economy – one that encourages a symbiotic relationship between consumers and producers. “The concept of service-to-service trading is inspired by the trading relationship between bees and flowers,” he says. “The service-to-service economy is already a reality in the kingdoms of animals and plants. In terms of trade, some animals and plants are more advanced than humans. When a bee lands on a flower, who benefits: the bee or flower? The answer is that they both do, in the sense that the bee uses the flower for food, while the flower uses the bee for fertilisation. Bees and flowers are mutualists. A business and customer should be mutualists as well, with mutualism (a service-to-service relationship) between them.” While technology giants such as Facebook and Google have built their success on the ability to harvest user information while offering free services to consumers, Al Lily believes there is incredible potential for the ways that consumers can serve business needs. “A serviceto-service economy expands the

A service-to-service economy expands the efforts of Google, Facebook and other companies, by transferring their online-based model to offline settings. Dr Abdul Al Lily, associate professor, King Faisal University

efforts of Google, Facebook and other companies, by transferring their online-based model to offline settings,” he says. “Digital advertising has been the main service that consumers can offer. In other words, the service-to-service model has been implemented only in the form of service-to-ad trading, with a business offering a service to a customer, who agrees to see advertisements. This should go beyond service-toad trading. The service-to-service economy has been implemented mainly in online settings, with a limited impact on the real world.” In order to truly transform businesses across the world, Al Lily believes this model has to be translated into all walks of life. “Service-to-service trading should be implemented offline too, with a customer being able to walk into a clothing store or a bookstore and get served for free in exchange for a service of a different kind that the customer offers,” he says. “This service can be as simple as clothes having advertisements on them,

or books having ads on the front or back cover, or even throughout the book. Another example is that a gym may offer a free membership in exchange for being allowed to collect detailed information on how members exercise, and being able to trade this information.” Al Lily even takes this one step further, and says that gym customers could even deliver electricity-as-a-service in a BlackMirror-style vision of the future. “The gym may also sell the energy that the members generate while exercising – if human-generated energy becomes important in the future. “In a restaurant, customers could receive free meals in exchange for them completing a survey on sleeping-habits conducted by a third party, such as a psychological research organisation. In this case, this psychological association pays for customers’ meals. Another example is that a hotel could offer free accommodation in return for a review that the customer shares either on their website or with ten friends.” APRIL 2018



Mik Chernomordikov, Microsoft

How Microsoft, GCC end users and AI experts are solving global issues Last month, Microsoft highlighted the ways that the Middle East’s end-users can tackle some of the world’s most pressing issues through artificial intelligence, which Mik Chernomordikov, the firm’s regional head of innovation, and engineering has said is becoming available to all.


icrosoft's four-day Hackfest event, held in February at the Address Boulevard hotel in Dubai – gave the firm's customers a platform to collaborate with engineers and data scientists to develop code running on Microsoft’s platforms that can solve their biggest challenges. The Hackfest gave IT decision makers an opportunity to experience capabilities such as machine-learning, advanced analytics, and naturallanguage processing – all hosted by the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. Hackfest 2018 was designed around two tracks. The first track focused on attendees who presented problems that are best solved by AI and machine learning, while the other track engaged with customers who wanted to learn more about developing cognitive applications. Mik Chernomordikov, head of innovation and engineering for 36

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the Middle East and Africa region, believes that technical advances have now made cloud and AI an enticing, realistic prospect for Middle East customers. “The Fourth Industrial Revolution is set to bring in a range of huge changes, and AI will help society to be more productive, achieve more, and be a better place,” Chernomordikov said. According to Chernomordikov, AI development has four key pillars. “Agents like assistants or virtual helpers help us to make decisions faster,” he said. “Applications like PowerPoint or Word are embedded with AI, while services are ready-to-use APIs – such as those for vision or emotion – for developers. Over the last decade, this has improved dramatically. The error margin is now as low as 5.9% for speech recognition, and for image recognition it is even lower; as good as a human. We can predict and prevent accidents through AI services.

The democratisation of AI makes it accessible to everyone. “The fourth pillar, which is kind of hidden, is infrastructure. To run all these algorithms, computation and deep learning, you need power. Cloud really helps to give the hyper-scale and global computing power that the world needs in order to solve problems. We’ve invested in hardware and software chipsets that are based on specific architectures like FGPA. That infrastructure enables the use of AI.” Chernomordikov also believes that Microsoft is now uniquely positioned to help the UAE realise its ambition of being a world leader in AI. “The UAE is looking to AI as the engine for its future growth,” he said. “It’s the only country with a minister of AI, and the right strategy and investments from policymakers. Microsoft is ready to help the UAE government and use our research and frameworks to help them.” He also believes that initiatives like

Hackfest are imperative if the firm and UAE enterprises are to enhance their mutual understanding. “Sharing the brain power of our top data scientists aligns with the UAE’s ambition to grow,” he said. “Hackfest is a unique idea – the idea of introducing new technologies to solve specific issues. On a more technical level, AI is about helping organisations to manage their data. If you have the right data and analyse it in the right way, you can use it to make better decisions and deliver more accurate AI algorithms.” A range of global organisations have benefited from Microsoft’s AI and cloud services, including Dubai Electricity & Water Authority, whose chatbot runs on Azure. Global retail giant Macy’s is using Dynamics CRM to improve its interaction with customers, while McDonald’s is using its cognitive services to predict what customers will buy. Chernomordikov is particularly excited by the prospect of how AI can help those who are most in need. “It can now help a range of industries, including government, healthcare, education and retail to name but a few,” he said. “In the classroom, it’s saving teachers’ time by helping to create specific learning paths for students, which

helps them to learn faster and identify gaps on courses quicker.” Last year, Microsoft launched its Seeing AI app, which helps blind users to understand their surroundings through audio descriptions, as well as its $50 million AI for Earth initiative, which will see the firm partnering with organisations that are tackling climate change. Chernomordikov sees scope for a whole host of other good causes being enhanced by AI. “Moving forward, AI will help us to solve issues around cancer, and humanitarian problems,” he said. A recent Microsoft survey of large Gulf enterprises discovered that more than half of them (51%) were planning to migrate to the cloud. Many others expressed interest in adopting various forms of AI, including business intelligence (41%), Internet of Things (37%), automated workflow (25%), predictive analytics (21%) and robotics and machine automation (14%). “The beauty of cloud is that compute power can now be given to customers to solve their specific needs,” Chernomordikov said. “We’ve found better ways to use GPUs, which are a better way to use as the infrastructure for deep learning and machine learning

AI will help society to be more productive, achieve more, and be a better place.

algorithms. FGPA combines the flexibility of powerful hardware with programmable software. This is helping people to solve issues that were too long and expensive to solve before.” Organisations attending the Microsoft AI Hackfest include Dubai Municipality, DMCC (Dubai Multi Commodities Centre), MBC Group, The United Arab Emirates University, du – from Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company, Al Jaber Engineering & Contracting and Masdar.

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Dubai Police

EYES ON THE NATION Glesni Holland spoke to Brigadier Khalid Nasser Al Razooqi, director general of artificial intelligence at Dubai Police, on the sidelines of ISNR 2018 in Abu Dhabi last month, to discuss the force’s plans to incorporate advanced AI technologies into the emirate’s protection services.


ubai Police have been no strangers to the headlines over the last 12 months. Kickstarting 2018 with the announcement of their strategic plan for artificial intelligence, to encouraging “policing without policemen” in their most recent project launch, it seems the force is committed to redefining the future of policing as we know it. The eighth edition of the International Exhibition for National Security and Resilience, which put the spotlight on the use of innovative technologies to enhance the emirate’s homeland security efforts, was the perfect platform for the force to showcase its futuristic ambitions. Leading the way in implementing these plans is Brigadier Khalid Nasser Al Razooqi, director general of artificial intelligence at Dubai Police, who says that the force’s ultimate goal is to reduce visits to police stations across 38

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the emirate by 80 percent before the end of 2018, using a number of technology initiatives. “Encouraging Dubai’s residents to use these smart services, rather than coming to the police station for minor incidents, is a major goal for us,” he says. “The government set us this goal for 2018, and it has been the driving force behind many of our smart initiatives.” With a service as people-oriented as policing, surely the entire force cannot be run by machines? “This is why the government has left the 20 percent margin in order for certain services to still be conducted on a face-to-face basis, and I believe this is enough,” he says. Dubai Police’s smart police stations and its Robocop employee were also on show during the ISNR event, which Al Razooqi says are both part of the drive to achieve this target. The smart police station offers

residents over 27 individual services, such as opening a case, paying fines, or reporting a bounced cheque. Similarly, the Robocop – which is currently positioned in landmark locations including Dubai Mall, enables users to access its services through its voice recognition technology. “We’ve had really positive feedback from Dubai residents that have used the Robocop. When people see these kinds of machines, they can’t help but want to touch them and interact with them, and we really believe it will bridge the gap between the police force and the people, as these machines are very engaging and approachable,” Al Razooqi says. “The new generation love to interact with these machines, which is a great advantage for us. We’ve also found it has encouraged people to report more cases and pay fines as they can do so in their own time, at their convenience.” As part of the force’s AI strategy, Al

By 2040, most crimes will be committed by machines.

Razooqi is confident that this will enable not only detection, but the prediction of crimes in the UAE. “Based on algorithms that are made of historical data, which can show us if a crime has been committed frequently in one particular area at a specific time, we are able to predict the likelihood of this happening again, and better prepare our forces to tackle it,” he says. “We’ve already put this technology in motion and we’re now starting to see the positive results, as the crime rate has already reduced.” Before too long however, Al Razooqi believes that officers will be tackling criminals of a different kind, and says that, “By 2040, most crimes will be committed by machines.” If so many crimes are expected to be committed by machines, does this mean they’re expected to be solved by machines? “It can definitely happen,” he says. “What you’ve seen in the movies

will soon be a reality in this space.” Dubai Police are also testing the use of facial recognition technology in a POC use case known as the Oyoon (Arabic for eyes) project, which was launched at the beginning of this year. “We have access to over 10,000 CCTV cameras in Dubai, but obviously I am unable to hire 10,000 police officers to analyse them,” says Al Razooqi. “We needed to find an efficient system of making sense of these live videos, and this is where facial recognition technology can really help.” However, while still in the testing phase, the force has experienced some challenges, as the technology depends on the camera’s environment, lighting, quality and position. Nevertheless, the project – in line with the force’s desire to establish “community policing” - is expected to be ready before Expo 2020, and will be implemented with the support and participation of governmental, semigovernmental and private sectors.

Brigadier Khalid Nasser Al Razooqi, director general of artificial intelligence, Dubai Police

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Dimension Data




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Glesni Holland sat down with Tim Wade, senior director of architecture at Dimension Data’s Sports Practice last month, to discover how the firm is using technology to make every second count in one of the world’s most popular sporting events.


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richer viewing experience to meet the heightened expectations of fans in the digitally connected era. Back in 2015, the broadcaster teamed up with technology firm Dimension Data to establish a data analytics solution that could enable spectators to access real-time, live tracking of individual riders – something that was

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he Tour de France is now the world’s largest cycling race, and third largest sports event after the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics. With billions of fans worldwide viewing the occasion on live race broadcasts across 190 countries and on 120 television stations, French media group Amaury Sport Organisation (A.S.O) – the company that runs the Tour alongside various other sporting events worldwide, quickly recognised the need to deliver a

previously unavailable to viewers, as they were limited to tracking only the main pack of riders, termed the peloton, and breakaway groups. “When the world is watching, failure isn’t an option, so we really pull out all the stops for the Tour de France,” said Tim Wade, senior director of architecture at Dimension Data’s Sports Practice. “By collecting and augmenting a variety of data sources, we are able to tell a story to the spectators from the moment the race starts right through to the very end that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.” Much of this individual data is sourced through the device attached to each rider’s saddle that collects GPS coordinates “every second of the race,” according to Wade, before this is sent back to Dimension Data’s Big Data truck – which is stationed at the finish line of every race. “The data that is collected from the rider is streamed to a plane that is circulating above the race, and then relayed to a technical zone assembled near the finish line of each stage,” said Wade. “Using microwaves, which enable us to execute such long-distance readings regardless of the rider’s position during the race, it is then transferred to our Big Data truck where we begin the analysis.” The rider’s location data is then augmented with external sources, such as localised weather conditions and Ordinance Survey data determining the

current gradient or terrain, which enables the Dimension Data analytics team to establish algorithms that grasp even more information about a rider’s performance. For a race as significant as the Tour de France, downtime in the transmission of this data is simply not an option. Ensuring the analytics solution is both secure and fail-proof is a priority, but operating on the firm’s cloud platform with regular security assessments, and on-premise network security in the Big Data truck itself have resulted in no issues during the race so far. In fact, there were 1,409,769 hacking attempts on the race’s website in 2016 – all of which failed. Aside from the work that goes into directly preparing for the Tour, Dimension Data are looking to utilise technology in any way they can to enhance not only the spectator experience, but the performance of the riders. “We released a health and wellbeing app for riders, which requires them to answer a number of questions first thing in the morning to log their physical and mental status, before combining that with the data that is collected from their wearable devices during training,” explained Wade. “This helps the team make better decisions when it comes to race day and deciding who should race each stage.” In addition, racing means more than reaching podium position for Dimension Data. During the recent Dubai Tour

We wholeheartedly believe in the #BicyclesChangeLives campaign, and it will remain a driving force behind our success. Mechelle Buys Du Plessis, Managing Director, Dimension Data Middle East

When the world is watching, failure isn’t an option.

Tim Wade, senior director of architecture at Dimension Data’s Sports Practice

that took place last month, the sevenmember Team Dimension Data, led by British cycling legend and world championship rider Mark Cavendish, took part in the five-stage event to not only strive for that sprint finish success, but to also fund the team’s ambition to donate 5,000 bicycles to Qhubeka – a foundation that provides bicycles to underprivileged communities in Africa. With the belief that a bicycle helps connect people to basic services like schools and healthcare, as well as job opportunities, the tech firm pledged to donate one bicycle every day during the Dubai Tour if the kilometres for the day’s race were met by Dubai’s general public on two stationary bikes at the Dimension Data tent at the central fan hub at SkyDive Dubai. “The Qhubeka project remains at the core of our setup and the very reason why our team exists,” said Mechelle Buys Du Plessis, Managing Director, Dimension Data Middle East. “Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka provides a platform for awareness and helps garner international support for the project, so that they may continue to mobilise African people. This gives our team a greater sense of purpose and we wholeheartedly believe in the #BicyclesChangeLives campaign and it will remain a driving force behind our success.” APRIL 2018



Digital transformation skills

Seven digital roles of the future Clint Boulton explores the roles that every organisation should consider if they are to make the most of the digital age.


iring enough software engineers, DevOps managers, cloud computing specialists and other roles required to facilitate IT transformations remain tall tasks for CIOs. But the talent crunch isn’t limited to those with coding skills and algorithmic thinking: enterprises are also struggling to hire staff with soft skills who can help shape the user experience around digital services. For a digital transformation to be successful, companies need storytellers, UX designers and product managers, among other roles. These skill sets help round out the experience required to support emerging digital services. Consultants say CIOs must work with marketing, sales and HR cohorts to fill the following positions. UX designers Building a chatbot is impossible without UX designers. Once a business case has been established, you will need UX designers to help figure out how the product will look and feel. Many UX experience designers can code, though their main role is shaping how end users will consume the product.


Digital trainers To help your chatbot strike the right tone, you need someone to train the bot in a way that embodies your corporate culture. Trainers can help natural-language processors and language translators make fewer errors, and teach AI algorithms how to mimic human behaviour. For example, a media company may opt for a chatbot with a snappier tone, while an insurance



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company might require a more formalsounding virtual assistant. Whatever the use case, humans are required to help train the bots how to demonstrate empathy for humans. Writers Enterprises need writers, or “storytellers,” to help shape digital experiences such as chatbots, or even how employees and consumers should interact with new augmented reality services you’re building, says Todd Rovak, CEO of Capgemini Consulting North America. Home improvement retailer Lowe’s, for example, has hired writers to craft narratives around robots and other digital services.


Conversational brand strategist Say a consumer packaged goods company wants to tap into the conversational messaging zeitgeist by building a new chatbot. This will require a fresh approach and talent, namely, someone who can convey and reimagine the company’s culture. Doing this in the proper context and tone is key to cultivate the right experience, but the conversational brand strategist must also be able to explain how this works to the CEO, CMO, CIO, CDO and other business functions.


Forensics analysts Enterprises are concerned about the so-called “black box” challenge of explaining the results of AI, a challenge that may grow as governments expect more transparency regarding


decisions algorithms make. For that you need a sort of CSI for AI. Algorithm forensics analysts, for example, might help enterprises explain the genesis of outcomes to business executives. Such analysts might work with coders and data scientists to understand how an algorithm reached its conclusion, says Daugherty. Ethics compliance manager Ethics compliance managers will help ensure that your AI systems are operating as designed and that unintended consequences are addressed post haste. Such a manager would, for example, intervene in the event an AI system for credit approval was discriminating against people in certain professions or specific geographic areas. The ethics compliance manager could work with an algorithm forensics analyst to uncover the underlying reasons for such results and then implement the appropriate fixes.


Digital product managers IT and trainers got the chatbot up and running. PwC partner John Karren says a digital organisation needs product managers to position the bot for consumers. Digital product managers' roles could include responsibility for storytelling, crafting product narratives, but ideally, they will own the entire product from top to bottom, ensuring the UX is crisp and that the appropriate compliance boxes have been checked with legal. “You need to know how to take a digital product and apply that to the market, or even within an organisation,” says Karren.


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Mike Elgan, Computerworld

WHY AUTONOMOUS CARS WON’T BE AUTONOMOUS Mike Elgan discusses why he believes autonomous cars will function, but only with our constant help.


ew rules for “self-driving cars” in California highlight a glaring misconception about how AI works. An educated public understands that autonomous vehicles are amazing, but that they are so far unable to fully take control of a passenger vehicle with no human behind the wheel. It’s only a matter of time before today’s “safety drivers” — the humans who sit idle behind the wheel in case the artificial intelligence fails — get out of the car and leave the driving to the machines, right? California just approved licenses for self-driving cars to in fact have no human driver behind the wheel, or no human in the vehicle at all (after dropping off a passenger, or for deliveries) with one caveat: The self-driving car companies must monitor and be able to take over driving remotely. This makes me imagine NASA-like control rooms filled with operators and screens and traffic reports, where maybe a few dozen people are monitoring a few hundred vehicles, then taking control when they malfunction, freeze up or confront complex driving scenarios. The idea is that human supervisors make sure AI functions well, and when 44

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it fails, human intervention is a guide for tweaks in the software. The explicit goal of this heuristic process is that eventually the AI will be able to function without supervision. In the world of AI-based services, vast armies of humans toil away to compensate for the inability of today’s technology to function as we want it to. Who’s doing this work? Well, you are, for starters. But you’re an amateur (and unwitting) AI helper. Professional AI trainers and helpers all over the world spend their workdays identifying and labelling virtual objects or real-world objects in photographs. They test and analyse and recommend changes in algorithms, but it is humans that are required to programme a common-sense response into every conceivable event. It is for this reason that I’m doubtful that self-driving car companies will be able to move beyond the remote control-room scenario. One reason is to protect the cars from vandalism, which could become a real problem. Reports of people attacking or deliberately smashing into self-driving cars are reportedly on the rise. I also believe that passengers will be able to press a button and talk

to someone in the control room, for whatever reason. One reason might be a nervous passenger: “Uh, control room, I’m going to take a nap now. Can you keep an eye on my car?” But the biggest reason is that the world is big and complex. Weird, unanticipated things happen. Lightning strikes. Birds fly into cameras. Kids shine laser pointers at sensors. Should any of these things happen, self-driving cars can’t be allowed to freak out and perform randomly. They’re too dangerous. I believe it will be decades before we can trust AI to be able to handle every conceivable event when human lives are at stake. Self-driving cars don’t do one thing - they do a million things. That’s easy for humans, hard for AI. We consistently underestimate human intelligence, which will remain vastly superior to computers at humancentric tasks for the remainder of our lifetimes, at least. The evolution of selfdriving cars is a perfect illustration of how the belief that machines will function on their own in complex ways is mistaken. They’ll function, but with our constant help, because AI needs humans to back them up when they’re not intelligent enough to do their jobs.


Gibu Mathew, ManageEngine

How AIOps can find the needle in the haystack ManageEngine’s director of product management, Gibu Mathew, explains how the use of AI in IT operations has the potential to reduce human error and help businesses keep pace with digital transformation initiatives.


hat is AIOps, and how can it benefit organisations and their IT departments? We’ve already seen AI algorithms used by the likes of Facebook and Google, and we’re now talking about bringing that to IT management. In short, AIOps is a way of bringing simplicity to IT. It’s a way to help IT departments be more efficient, and to help automate decisions. AI is about facilitating the human role in delivering automated decisions. AIOps is about using AI to help IT teams. There’s a real need for this because change is now happening so quickly – faster than how traditional companies can actually keep up with. They need to introduce new technologies with the same people, which means they are essentially trying to do more with the same team. 46

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How is ManageEngine developing its AI-based products and services to deliver this goal? We deliver around 20-30 products and tools that are used by the industry in general. Our flagship tools span areas like service desk, active directory management, monitoring and infrastructure, network, end user experience and cloud monitoring tools. Each of these tools can generate more data than ever before. When monitoring a lot of services and changes, you need to look at every aspect of the application. Before, it was just a case of systems metrics at the infrastructure level. Today, when you make an update, if it’s a core change, you want to know what line of code has affected the application’s performance. This is like finding the needle in the haystack.

When you monitor everything in production, you need aid from tools to help find the problem. If you look at productivity for the helpdesk, it’s a case of how it can close more tickets with the same team. People get bored with routine, and if you’re a technical person, you need new challenges. You need to help staff avoid routine work to make them more productive. Leave your smart technicians and admins to train the AI system, and you will get more out of the team. Helpdesk and routine tasks can be automated if you have the right helpdesk tool. For audit or endpoints, to improve security and compliance, you need to make sure endpoints are secure and that you are compliant. You have to ensure touchpoints are safely handled so there’s no information breach. On a

production server, you may accidentally delete a certain number of files, and an anomaly detection service can help administrators to detect this behaviour. Is AIops currently a realistic prospect for Middle East enterprises? AI is absolutely now a realistic prospect. Cloud services are certainly picking up in the region. When you deploy services in the cloud, there’s obviously a lot of access from mobile devices and your customers across the GCC; you need customers and partners to access this data from all locations. AI has already realised a range of benefits in the consumer world, and we are slowly getting there in the world of business apps. It has to trickle down into IT teams, and help them put IT in the fast lane to the era of digital transformation.

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Launches and releases

Brand: Microsoft Product:Surface Laptop



Product: Versa

The new Fitbit Versa combines smartwatch capabilities with Fitbit’s advanced health and fitness features, as it aims to provide a one-stop-shop for consumers that need the best of both worlds. Its 24/7 heart rate tracking, onscreen workouts, and automatic sleep tracking settings are all integrated alongside smartwatch features like quick replies on Android, wallet-free payments and ondevice music – all with over 4 days of battery life. It’s smaller than the previous Ionic model, and lighter too, with a design that is “slim, casual and comfortable enough to wear all day and night.” Key hardware characteristics have been retained from the Ionic, such as the three physical buttons, Fitbit’s PurePulse heart rate and SpO2 sensors around the back. It’s also water resistant up to 50 metres with swim tracking support. WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: Fitbit has opted to install health tracking options specifically for women in the Versa, which users can choose to opt in for. This data can be used by researchers for clinical health studies to help explore major health issues, and give female Fitbit users more specific guidance for their health.


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The Surface Laptop is said to accumulate the best innovations from across the Surface family. Battery life, display quality, storage capacity and mobility all take centre stage in this device that is designed for “a range of lifestyles.” Weighing in at 2.67lbs and measuring 14.47mm at its thickest point, Microsoft claims that its “meticulously crafted design” makes for a thinner, quieter and more powerful device. It comes with a seventh generation Intel Core processor and enough battery power to allow up to 14.5 “continuous hours” of video playback. Microsoft has also brought its Surface Pro with LTE Advanced model to the UAE. Its CAT-9 modem delivers

up to 12.5 hours of battery life, and supports 20 LTE bands. Its cellular connectivity capabilities also mean that users no longer need to worry about public Wi-Fi security issues, as they can strike up an Internet connection from wherever there is mobile signal. WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: Prices start at AED 4,199 for the Surface Laptop, and AED 4,507 for the Surface Pro LTE, and both devices can be found at all major electronic retail stores and with commercial resellers across UAE.

Brand: Blackberry Product: KEYone – Bronze Edition Following on from the success of the KEYone Black Edition, Blackberry has brought an all-new Bronze edition to the Middle East market. The device offers dual-SIM compatibility at the cost of dropping the microSD card slot that was found on previous KEYone models. It is also equipped with 4GB of memory and 64GB of internal storage, and is packed with the same security, productivity and reliability features that have made the KEYone series a success in previous launches. The device also prides itself on enabling fast battery charging for users, and is said to increase by 50 percent in 36 minutes.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: TCL Communication revealed that around 50% of KEYone customers are enterprise users - most of them switching from the iPhone solely because of the physical keyboard.


Glesni Holland, Deputy Editor, CNME


t was only a matter of time before we saw a fatality at the hands of autonomous cars. But following months of criticism and speculation over the firm’s operations and credibility, no company was likely in a worse position to handle it than Uber. Worse still, the accident took place during the testing phase of the vehicle’s technology. The horrific footage that has emerged since the incident does not make for pleasant watching. The victim, Elaine Herzberg, was killed by the Volvo XC90s in Arizona after she stepped out into the road pushing a bicycle. According to the police, the car – driving in ‘autonomous mode’ with someone sat in the front seat, did not even slow down before impact. Admittedly, the video of the accident demonstrates that it's likely 50

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Herzberg wouldn’t have been visible to the human eye long enough for the car’s backup driver to intervene. But we’re talking about a vehicle that is loaded with sensors, including LiDAR that can see objects in both dark or light scenarios, and therefore should have detected Herzberg. Failing that, the car’s radar sensors, which create a 3D, 360-degree view of a vehicle’s surroundings by shooting out laser beams, should have spotted the metal bicycle frame in time. An internal Uber document obtained by the New York Times has cited people familiar with the firm’s self-driving programme, and has revealed that Uber’s Volvos – similar to the car present during the incident – were “falling short of expectations” and struggling with basic road manoeuvres before the accident. The cars were reportedly having difficulties meeting Uber’s

target of driving 13 miles before the driver had to take control to steer it out of trouble. On the flipside, Waymo said that in its tests in California last year, its self-driving cars would travel an average of 5,600 miles before requiring intervention. Either way, for those that were already sceptical about the use of and hurdles facing autonomous vehicles – myself included, this tragic incident has served as a surefire example that the widespread rollout of this technology must still be a distant reality. Even for a country as forward-thinking and technologically driven as the UAE, with its visions to transform 25 percent of all journeys to self-driving means by 2030, I hope this will act as a wake-up call to transport authorities worldwide that there is much still to be done before these autonomous goals can become realities.

Kaspersky Enterprise Cybersecurity

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Computer News Middle East April 2018  
Computer News Middle East April 2018