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JUNE 2017 | VOL 2 ISSUE 1



‘THREATS’ Security agreements or protocols cannot be merely signed and locked away in a cupboard now. It needs to be revisited, revised and reiterated. /10


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ANUSHREE DIXIT ASSISTANT EDITOR anushree@gecmediagroup.com

There was a time when every organization wanted to be ‘Smart’ and in that process they started building layers on layers of technology. The result was some harsh project failures and not to mention, extra cost. We had taken up this issue previously as well, whether a vendor should push solutions or provide solutions. The same goes for the organizations, and especially the CIOs. Based on our conversations with CIOs from various countries, we are seeing this trend changing. CIOs are seriously considering the thin line between buying technology that is niche and buying technology that is needed. Venturing further into the region, we have tried to put across some CIO verdicts on how technology has served their organizations in 2017 so far. One of the predominant questions that we asked them was, “Should CIOs change the business or lead it?” It was interesting to see how the CIOs from various sectors are extremely focused on how they are going to push their business to further boundaries. CIO, CTO, CDO…. The roles are different, but the page is one. Having said that, we are also extremely thankful to the industry for showering us with suggestions for bringing to you more meaningful cases and stories. Based on such a feedback, we are all set to present a unique issue of The Titans in September. So stay tuned!







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JUNE 2017





THE NEXUS OF GCC COUNTRIES FOR FUTURE ECONOMY Unveiling the investments, roadmap, technolgies and key infrastructure pillars that put GCC on the map of global competitiveness


www. gec360.org



INJECTING TRANSFORMATION INTO THE BANKING DNA “Banks are cognizant of the fact the customer experience is increasingly important. This is especially relevant as regulatory mandates drive product homogeneity in an already overcrowded market. Customer service will only get better. It has to.”

From a technology perspective, how has the year 2017kicked off for the banking and financial sector? What kinds of upward or downward trends do you see? Last year was a good year for kicking off lots of different program in the banking and financial services sector from an Off-shoring

and In-shoring perspective. Foreign banks were confident in their strategic moves to other geographical locations and this year, they will continue to focus intensely in this area. Digitization –The growth of Digitization was not only restricted to retail, investment and private banking space but also towards the





other domains. Therefore, we expect that 2017 in the entire financial services space will continue the upward trend in the growth of digitization. Security & Risk Management is the new hot area from a projects’ perspective. As more and more banks move towards digitization, the importance of security will increase. As such, kicking off initiatives and program to implement business security solutions will increase. E-Payment was an interesting area in 2016, where we saw growth in the projects in the treasury space and the implementation of electronic platforms. The Regulatory field has been an important catalyst to drive projects in the banking world over the past few years.. Thus, regulatory projects take precedence and are often at the expense of other nonregulatory projects. Whilst a few banks’ businesses did not grow last year in the overall but their regulatory programs very much did. In particular for Data Migration/ System upgrade, this has been an interesting area for lots of Asset Management businesses. We saw plenty of concentration on such programs to kick off system upgrades. We have done numerous platform enhancements, along with the focus on data management. In addition, data refresh and the smart use of data will be high in 2017. Transformation/ Optimisation – Transformation has very much been on the agendas of several established banks. The growing need for transformation and optimization are sought after due to multiple factors, but we conclude that the most impactful determinants are regulatory/ compliance pressures and of course, cost. Businesses now look at transformation costs as an investment and this has affected the “less critical” projects, especially on back office technology; despite the intentions to transform the end-to-end functions.

How has the BFSI sector evolved in UAE and what kind of opportunities or investments can technology vendors and service providers look forward to? Banks have been pushed to diversify their sources of revenue, creating stronger customer propositions across all retail



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product lines. They have also got better at “big data”, relationship management and cross-selling. Meanwhile, the regulator has pushed forward with consumer protection, creating customer friendlier terms. For instance, regulation around early settlement charges this has meant banks have had to become more competitive to hold on to their customers. That doesn’t just mean lower costs of financing, it has also spurred banks to rethink internal processes, invest in service quality and enhance the use of technology in order to deliver an improved customer experience. Credit risk Retail Banks have emerged stronger, more prudent and better equipped to deal with what the complex global financial maze will throw at them. Regulatory mandates While risks will persist, there are numerous positive developments to look forward to. Banks are cognizant of the fact the customer experience is increasingly important. This is especially relevant as regulatory mandates drive product homogeneity in an already overcrowded market. Customer service will only get better. It has to.

Secure payments have gained a lot of traction in the couple of years. What upcoming trends do you see in this area? The growth of contactless transactions — whether it’s a card you can tap-andpay with or a mobile device with a digital wallet — will accelerate in 2017. We’ve been seeing a consistent, double-digit growth rate for contactless transactions in U.A.E. The UAE will also spur this growth as it continues its transition to EMV. Businesses that are making the transition need to think ahead and seek solutions that will support contactless to futureproof their EMV upgrade. Consumers like to tap, and businesses need to set themselves up for success in this area. With Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay continuing to expand into Middle East and globally, the importance of being able to accept contactless transactions will increase. Consumers will expect to be able to pay the way they want, and businesses will need to evolve as their customer expectations change.”

How do you see the evolution of Fintech disrupting the banking and technology? The rapidly growing financial technology (fintech) market represents both a competitive threat and an opportunity for traditional banks. Fintech firms can compete directly with banks for loans, payment products, investment management, and other services. But there are also many ways for banks to adopt fintech strategies and tactics themselves, or to partner with fintech firms in order to serve their own customers better, improve risk management systems, and grow market share.

What was the latest project implementation of Ajman Bank? How far are you digitized? Ajman bank has recently done a massive projects achievements especially moving into more digitization : l Compliance with vendor’s applications so we have upgraded all our current systems to the latest versions and designed a systematic process for continuous upgrade to be always up to the application latest versions. l Revamp and relocate our main production Data Center with latest technology and highest Tier III DC Standard l Certified with ISO 27001 l Initiating and organizing one of the biggest technology exhibitions in UAE “Smart Life “which becomes the trend of Ajman and all northern emirates . l Implementing a lot of new projects such as , renew all our ATM’s and CCDM’s with latest technology and features where we were one of the 3 banks in UAE implement the activate technology for all our ATM’s screens , new signature system including Signature pads with full integration with our core systems , Emirates ID automation in all of our branches , revamping all of our back bone Network and infrastructure , Business intelligence and data warehouse , interactive e-statements , online IPO and much more … l Absolutely it is a journey where we have already started to be one of the bank leaders with high digital/technology roadmap.


RE-IMAGINING RETAIL “To mitigate local business risk and became a part of global e-commerce ecology, investment is required not only in new retail ecosystem but also in security technologies. We will see it as a big thing in Q3 ‘17.”

Middle East market is already undergoing this change with Amazon entering the fray by acquiring Souq.com.

Which technology will penetrate the sector most in 2017 and why? What would be your contribution there? E-commerce is borderless, this is a great threat to local retail business specially branded products segment. To mitigate local business risk and became a part of global e-commerce ecology, investment is required not only in new retail ecosystem but also in security technologies. We will see it as a big thing in Q3 ‘17. Working with business operations head, marketing and top management on e-retail system, business impact and presenting the right solution for a safe and secured marketplace.

What and how should a 2017 retail CIO prepare himself to rise up in the game?


With the great influx of AI, VR and AR making way into mainstream retail, how do you see the Middle East region rising up to the buzzwords? AI, VR, AR have already become a part of retail ecosystem in Europe, North America and Pacific rim market place. Especially GEN-Y customer are very comfortable with new technology oriented retailing experience. Middle East will quickly acquaint to the evolving technology, and embrace. UAE will lead the way; a fine example is exploring Blockchain technology for Finance domain.



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According to reports, e-commerce ventures are using the UAE as a spring board in to Middle East’s online retail market. What impact will this gave in technology spending in retail? This is capital intrinsic project, and requires lots of investment, local cash rich family business are always open in financing new ideas and technology for business modernization & growth. Quite sizable investment in this technology front is imminent. Online retail market in GCC requires more maturity reg. logistics in comparison to established markets like the West or Europe.

Demonstrate business specific e-retail system Apps driven by mobility with hands on info using big data. Explain current & emerging business threats of new retailing system and introduce cutting edge AI/ VR/AR based e-retail system, designing it customer centric. Exploring payment channels like BlockChain which will change the face of e-commerce soon.

What are the retail clichés that one must forget now and move ahead? Law and judicial system, trust in new business process & technology, huge investment.

What game changing aspects or technology can retail sector expect from you in 2017? Mobility driven by apps on portable devices, ensure to reach the customer rather than the customer reaching us. This enhances the customer experience & satisfaction.










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‘THREATS’ Security agreements or protocols cannot be merely signed and locked away in a cupboard now. It needs to be revisited, revised and reiterated. CIOs need not be Superman to combat these threats….it is just about rethinking security and decentralizing it across the organization.


Global enterprises have been victims to havoc-wreaking threats in the past few months, including WannaCry and the recently hit Chinese fireball. Sometimes it is not just the money that is at stake, but the company’s critical information; a CIOs readiness; the IT team’s skill set; and last but not the least— the trust of customers or partners in the brand. We are in the middle of the year. A time to look at the past and plan for the future. Business, by its very own nature, is governed by various facets that put the perimeters to threat. The CIOs are faced with with a dual challenge. As mobility creeps into the modern enterprises and cloud becomes the new mandate, it is impossible to stop the movement of business data outside the walls of the organization. At the same time, the outside world is an unpredictable mesh, where managing risk would require a new approach altogether. According to report, By 2020, security will no longer be an IT problem, it will be a business problem, driven by a combination of increased business level dependence on technology and the inevitable increase in threat level and complexity. Smart CIOs get business executives



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Head of IT Infrastructure, Finance House, PJSC

Chief Information Officer, RDK Commercial Investment LLC

“No question / query is too small when it comes to organisations security. There is no stupid question.”

“IT security should be every employees’ responsibility and not just the IT department’s responsibility.”

involved early and establish cyber risk as a key operational risk to the business. In fact, one out of three CISOs already report outside of IT. How should CIOs help their organizations innovate for digital business while building necessary and appropriate risk controls that the business will follow? CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME! SO DOES SECURITY During a very interesting conversation with one of the CIOs in Bahrain, we started talking about how a CIO is responsible for ensuring that his team is well aware of regular security procedures and equipped with the art of keeping calm when a crisis hits. The CIO used to send fake email links and undisclosed attachments to his team from an unknown address, just to see how his team reacted to it. Surprisingly,



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during the initial days, he was surprised to see a majority of C-level executives actually opened the email and the attachment. This is a very good practice that I would definitely recommend to the CIOs across the region to do. Like fire drills, do security drills. Each and every employee of the organization should be aware of how he or she should react to a security lock-down; which information are to be shared and not to be shared with someone outside the office; and if at all a crisis occurs, how to keep the panic meters down. ENTERPRISE SECURITY ALARM ON ‘SNOOZE’ To defend the rising threats, it is very important for organizations now to reset their security awareness models. Security agreements or protocols cannot be merely signed and locked

away in a cupboard now. It needs to be revisited, revised and reiterated. To combat the new challenges, security and risk teams are resetting how they deliver value. I would like to quote a few lines from Smarter with Gartner here, that explains it in well framed sentences on how security procedures should be followed. It says that it should be a mandate that the “Procurement teams develop contracts that improve security agreements with cloud vendors, and security managers improve data classification schemes to make sure that critical data is never unprotected in the cloud. Organizations supplement traditional security approaches with new tools, including context-based algorithms for identity management, data isolation through mobile containers, rights management tools and new monitoring capabilities that all enable business benefits while limiting risk.” MAKING WEAK LINKS THE STONG LINK So far, no machines have generated a ransomware or plotted a warfare against any organization (Unless you link life with Transformers or Age of Ultron). Though this would or could be a reality soon enough. Today, it is the humans plotting against the humans. At the recently held GISEC, a good number of conversations zeroed into concluding humans as the weakest link in security. People create perimeters, people cross perimeters…..hence at the end of the day it is all about empowering the people to emerge as the strongest link. Managing risk in enterprise can require innovative and unique approaches. The concept of ‘Anywhere, Anytime’ workplace is also further elevating the scenario. Many research firms and forward thinking organizations are adopting this people centric attitude towards security. It is like; teach your child why he/she should not talk to a stranger rather than abstaining his conversations with the society.



“Avivo Group’s meticulous planning and consultations with vendors made us realize that it will require significant coordination between personnel from different companies to successfully migrate HIS to the cloud.”

Being ‘AVIVO’ The name ‘AVIVO‘ is derived from Latin word ‘avivar’ meaning – to brighten and enliven. AVIVO Group is a brand of premium, qualitydriven medical practices offering a wide variety of specialized healthcare services. In a short span of four years, the AVIVO Group has grown to be one of the most trusted role in the leading healthcare service provider in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and Kuwait. We have become one of the fastest growing healthcare service organization offering quality healthcare services through our 48 healthcare assets which include 2 highly reputed Hospitals, 29 Clinics, and 10 High-end Dental Centers attached with sophisticated Dental Lab, 6 Pharmacies, and 6 Distribution Centers & 2 State-of-the-art Diagnostic Facilities. HEALTHCARE SPENDING ON IOT ICT are playing an important role in healthcare sector, however Hospital Information system (HIS) contribute major benefits in patient care and organizing administrative as well as clinical information. Now a days healthcare companies are spending a lot on ICT, enabling efficiency in transmitting information and making it available online. Today wearables are establishing new partnership between patients and doctors by making them aware, do self-management and take preventions. Big data, the healthcare data will surely become measure of national economic development. CIO CHALLENGES The role of CIO has been become more strategic but keeping focus on technological and operational issues. Driving system consolidation and implementing automation



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like business rules for better claim performance and efficiencies continue to be big deal. MARKET POSITIONING Avivo Group realized the need for better IT. With ambitious plans, vision and strategy all departments were evaluated including IT. Limitations on scalability, security, capital expenditure, manpower all posed significant business hurdles for the future plans of the company. An internal committee was setup to understand, issues and to come up with a roadmap for IT which will support the company for the next 5 years. After many months of deliberation over costs, security, patient experience cloud was chosen as the best option. It was also decided to migrate the HIS from a Windows based system to a Linux based system. Avivo Group knew ineffective communication between people causes significant hurdles and loss of man-hours, thus we used an

online project management tool to align over 15 engineers from three different companies to coordinate with one another and this was definitely one of the big reasons for the success of the project. We have also integrated our mobile applications into HIS, which is hosted on the cloud. This application facilitates patients with their appointments, clinical reports, doctor details, insurance coverage and so on. Additional benefits will be made available to patients soon, to enhance the entire patient experience. All our patients will have healthcare at their fingertips. We now have a totally agile IT platform that can scale up or down with our business requirements, backed by an Enterprise class security to protect patient data keeping compliance as primary concern. We believe Avivo Group is the first and only private healthcare company in the UAE to have its centralized HIS application hosted on the cloud.


DERIVING THE VALUE OF CHANGE “CIO’s should come out of the shell of supporting business on what business requires, in fact empower business to be differentiators. To lead it, how they innovate is important. So, leading the change should not go with regular operations.”




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How has insurance sector been in 2016 and how is it now? Insurance sector has grown more or less in every part of the world. There is lot of evolution coming up in the insurance sector which will redefine the business models and technology is majorly disrupting the Insurance business models. On Demand Insurance and Peer to Peer insurance on technology platforms have started reshaping the business models. Digital Insurers have started pushing traditional players to optimize and consolidate. Coverage is to out where it is not available. Then there are insurance companies which are completely on mobile. They don’t have an office like Atom Bank. Lemonade and many others have created an online Peer to peer setup. Distribution of products and services are on a major shift in financial services and this is supplemented by technologies. Erstwhile processes are challenged and replaced or made redundant by technology. Evolution of On Demand Lending and On demand Insurance viz micro lending and micro insurance have started redefining business models and structures. And now everything is now getting transformed as a service which is pay as you use.

What technologies are penetrating in the financial sector? The biggest impact here, is going to be Blockchain. Blockchain will change the way the businesses are run. Apart from Blockchain, I see emergence of AI which is primarily machine learning, deep learning and robotic process automation. Now there are robo advisors who are working as customer services for banks, insurance companies. Robo advisor’s advice the clients what is relevant to the customer real time in terms of products and services. Mining data real time helps financial service to predict the immediate requirement of the customer. Now these robo advisors are crawling on your respective devices and mining your requirements like where are

you moving towards, where are you spending, what are you buying, and based on that they will predict and propose products and services. Another space where I see the impact is the IoT. In financial services, I see IoT coming in for trade finance, the telematics, fit bits. Analytics has to be there to take care of it. Smart Cities and Smart homes, smart devices are creating an ecosystem of selfsustenance and self-services. Use cases around Blockchain, IOT and AI are plugging gaps and loopholes in existence for many decades

Do you consider going paperless? Our mission is to go paperless and too very soon as we are financial services traditionally is paper driven. It is just not about going green but getting completely optimized and digitalized.

Should CIO’s change the business or lead it? CIO’s should be change practitioners and should lead the change. When a CIO decides to adopt technology and make it a DNA of the system, they have to split out the regular operations and the change management for innovation/ disruption. There must be clear cut demarcation between proposing Innovative solutions and supporting existing setup with regular operations. CIO’s should question on status quo of operations and continuously improvise new way of operating the business. CIO’s should be financially sound to derive the value of the change and build a solid business case. With everything turning into service CIO’s should be cautious on how to play the game of consuming it as service and pay as you use to derive a value of the business case. CIO’s should work closely with fintech’s and insuretech’s to develop an ecosystem of new market and technology opportunities.

What is your market positioning in UAE? Union Insurance is one of the top 5 insurance companies in the UAE market which is licensed by UAE

insurance authority and listed on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange. We provide a comprehensive range of retail and commercial insurance products to clients in the UAE and the Middle East region. In 2012, we were in the 21st position and in just 5 years, we have reached the 5th position. We are the 3rd most profitable company and 5th from revenue side.

How is financial sector going to be by 2020? Financial sector is going to change completely by 2020. Dubai government announced Blockchain and the Blockchain council is here in Dubai. The entire financial services set up will be on Blockchained. Financial Sector will see a major shift in terms their respective business models. Traditional players in financial sector will either shift to new business models offering different version of products and services. With millennial market round the corner a new version of products and services have to defined and access of products and services has to be real time. By 2020 market landscape will change drastically with millennials entering the financial services market and financial services market has to evolve this tech savvy market.

What challenges do the CIO’s face while implementing new technologies? I do not think there is any challenge, challenges always point to opportunity. CIO’s should foresee opportunities accordingly plan and build good business cases backed up by financials to implement. CIO’s should be in the market to predict the upcoming demands and quickly spin off the project to test the waters. Now technology world is offering everything as a service, CIO’s can CIO’s should break the challenges into units and start resolving each unit and test it in their respective markets or organisations to validate and resolve. The ecosystem is very friendly and support adoption of new technologies. It is the way the CIO’s build a business case.

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“Our work requires keeping pace the technology in line with the company’s infrastructure and budget, and we follow well-planned plans to ensure smooth transfer of technology from the old level to a better level and cover all aspects available to us.”

technology in line with the company’s infrastructure and budget, and we follow well-planned plans to ensure smooth transfer of technology from the old level to a better level and cover all aspects available to us. We have transferred to cloud technology and developed and updated our services to keep pace with this change and reduced our dependence on investment in internal infrastructure and this increased flexibility, speed and productivity.

As a leading aviation services firm, the amount of data and back end operations that you wouldbe having is imaginable. How are the operations managed? How well structured is your ERP systems?

BANDER S. ALTHUBAITY, HEAD OF IT AT SKY PRIME AVIATION SERVICES From a technology perspective, how has the year 2017 been for the service sector? What kinds of upward or downward trends did you see?


The trends and innovations that will shape the technology industry over the next several years came into sharper focus in 2016/2017. Cloud computing has gone mainstream for many enterprises, and the Internet of Things (IoT) is changing how both industrial and consumer-oriented companies do business. Drones and autonomous vehicles and virtual reality, increasingly sophisticated digital assistants and still the technology keeps

We are monitoring the technology trends and trying to maintain our technology level to keep our services in line with the technology revolution in the world.



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How far has technology penetrated the infrastructure of Sky Prime?

What were the key projects that you embarked on in 2016? What were the challenges and how did you overcome it? Our work requires keeping pace the

Our goals are always defined and the appropriate plans are put in line with our policy and then work on translating them technically to achieve the desired satisfaction and then follow up the work and improve it as much as possible.

Security is a key concern when you are handling such delicate information? How strong are your walls of security when it comes to reserves and backups? Security is the most important for any company and always we follow our precautions and the best ways to be as much as expected.

What is in hold for 2017? Would you be looking into any key project implementations? We are always looking for the best and will not stop development and improvement and bring the best potentials and techniques and to refine projects whenever there is a need for it


GEARED-UP FOR COMPETENCY “This shift to cloud based IaaS and SaaS is inevitable mainly due to zero based CAPEX, and faster time to market. As businesses focus more on value services to their end users, using cloud architecture can help them server the customers faster, less cost and less maintenance activities in the long term in addition to higher securities measures”

internal network from outside threats.

Which was the most recent project that you embarked on? What was the benefit derived out of it? Using virtual servers, Hyper-V to host our projects and applications. In the past we used physical servers to host our internal ERP application, since 2016 we shifted to Hyper-V virtual servers to host all of our ERP applications which saves us tremendous time and costs in maintaining and deploying the business services to our users.

Are you looking for any new project implementations? If yes, what do you expect from the solution providers?

FAWAZ SHAKRALLA, DIRECTOR OF IT PROJECTS BIPD – BAHRAIN INSTITUTE FOR POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT Tell us about your institution in brief ? BIPD is a semi government entity that specializes in providing training and conference programs for government staff in Bahrain. The aim is to provide training content related to the Constitutional charter and human rights content to government staff for municipal councils, Shura Council and Members of Parliament

How technically competent is your organization? What are the various niche technologies used? On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d say we are 7, technically competent. We are using virtualization technologies in our infrastructure, we are using cloud based applications such as Office 365 and we use advanced firewall policies to protect the

We are looking to host a DR site in the cloud either on Azure or AWS. This will serve to be a virtual site in the cloud hosting our entire systems and applications that our users can connect to, in the extreme case of a disaster or an emergency.

How do you see the 2017 technology market? This shift to cloud based IaaS and SaaS is inevitable mainly due to zero based CAPEX, and faster time to market. As businesses focus more on value services to their end users, using cloud architecture can help them server the customers faster, less cost and less maintenance activities in the long term in addition to higher securities measures. The US and UK markets have already shifted and chosen cloud architecture for application deployments. We are now seeing this trend in the middle east as well.

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EVOLVING WITH THE MARKET NEEDS “We are in a very strong position to deliver value addition with our cost-effective range of solutions. Our efforts to develop these solutions enables us to consistently stay ahead of the curve.�

Based on the evolving customer landscape, how has OMA Emirates, as a payment solution provider, emerged in the region?




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At this point, the Middle East region is growing into becoming one of the early adopters of innovative technology. It is the outcome of government initiatives to spearhead the use of technology that helps deliver advanced services for their citizens, residents and businesses. Simultaneously, the country Visions across the GCC have given a push to several industries including, government, real estate, manufacturing, healthcare, education, transport, as well as retail. With large scale projects underway, as a payment solution provider, OMA Emirates has been able to grow from being a stationery supplier 25 years ago to the banking and finance industry, into a full-service payment solution provider to a host of industries. Our focus on has been on evolving with the market needs and providing home grown solutions. Moreover, what we have established is our movement into innovating solutions that are relevant across



Branch Instant Issuance

Benefit Beyond Loyalty Application / Retail Suite



NanoSwitch ATM Payment Solutions

Central Issuance

RFID Value Added Services

Authorization & Settlement

Card Management System

Managed Services

the industries and providing tailor-made solutions to meet our customer needs. We are in a very strong position to deliver value addition with our cost-effective range of solutions. Our efforts to develop these solutions enables us to consistently stay ahead of the curve.

What niche technologies has OMA Emirates brought in 2017 for the BFSI and Retail customers? Our focus for 2017 has been the expansion of the two new concepts for the retail sector we launched in 2016. The solutions have been gaining the interest of many retailers not only to build on their loyalty systems but to also expand their business. 1. A common branded card, ’Benefit Beyond‘ can be branded by any store for their customers. It is a multi-loyalty scheme which has a redeeming model on every touch-point of a customers’ purchase. A major advantage of the card is that it has an e-purse wallet (prepaid) that allows the consumers to add money to the wallet and use along with loyalty points in real time. OMA Emirates today has a network of over 10000 POS terminals that will be a part of

Retail Solutions

Oil & Gas

Parking Solution

E-Wallet Solution Mobile E-Top Up Solution

ECR Integration

Parking Insurance

E-Health/ E-Insurance

Terminal Management System

this ecosystem. This enables consumers to reap the benefits for redemption and accruals of point gained with every purchase done on this platform across different outlets which include, airlines, department stores, hotels and restaurants, etc. The program is developed to help collect and analyze customer data as well as on the intermediaries such as distributors, dealers, sales agents etc. It also helps in creating and implementing marketing campaign communications. The program also includes issuing Loyalty Cards, Prepaid Cards, Gift Cards and Retail Suite. The loyalty program connected to the Benefit Beyond covers a 360 degree system where OMA Emirates begins with a researched program strategy, application development, CRM integration, database management and analytics, along with providing a skilled program team. Beyond that, the company also creates customer communication platforms and campaign management solutions that will enable the loyalty programs to be more successful. Many of these components are also supported with modern mobile management systems to ensure deeper penetration and greater effectiveness.


E-Remittance / E-Pay / M-Pay

2 OMA Retail Suite which represents an ecosystem of web portals and Windows, Android application, a fully automated ERP system. This highly scalable system is an open platform with a simple integration process which can be deployed in the Cloud or onsite. It also helps retailers using any CRM with customer data while linking its services and providing a mobile friendly application to work on social media. It reduces cost and improves profitability.

How is OMA Emirates a CIOs best friend when it comes to simplicity of technology? Today, as we all know “Innovation” is the key with changes in technology happening at a very fast pace and CIO’s (especially) in the BFSI segment have to adopt with new payment systems. OMA Emirates with its rich experience in the payments domain has been providing CIO support with new payment innovations across the industry such as Bio-Metrics (in Banking, Government), Parking Solutions, Kiosk and Vending Machines (Retail), Mobility – MPOS/ MPAY and Wallets. OMA Payment Hub is a one-stop solution for Payments for the industry.

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Kleindienst was awarded the’Best use of Technology and Smart Projects’ award at the 2017 Gulf Real Estate Awards for its magnanimous project ‘Heart of Europe’ at the World, Dubai. An up and close rendezvous with Ujjal Kumar Ghatak, CIO of Kleindienst on the adventurous journey of taking technology under water. addressing as a CIO?

UJJAL KUMAR GHATAK, CIO, KLEINDIENST Tell us about the unique project that you are handling. The Heart of Europe and The Floating Seahorse and are the two magnanimous project that we are working on. Out of the 300 man-made islands that Nakheel built, we have bought 8 of them and merged it into 6. We are the first one to do so. We are going to put a power station there as there is a need of 75 megawatt. The challenge was, DEWA says it has no experience to do this type of power cabling under the sea. Du has limitations andEtisalat refused as they did not have this type of skill set. The project will be completely operational by 2020.



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How expensive would be this power plant? The expense will be high but we cannot outsource it as people here have no experience. This is a completely new project,the “Heart of Europe” in Dubai. You will find all of European countries here like Germany, Sweden, Switzerland etc. We are also planning to do artificial snow that will give you the experience of Switzerland in Dubai. The Italian and Japanese companies are doing this technology.

What are the various challenges that you would be

Earlier, there was no CIO in this organization as there was no need. The organization is growing now owing to such mega projects. Some of the sea horses hotels will be operational by September/ October 2017. We will not be giving our hotels for third party operation. We will manage and operate it. If we give it to third party, they will bring their own IT systems. So, for us, the IT challenges are much more compared to any other organization. We have to build the IT systems for operations. For the connectivity, Du has given 8Mbps and the maximum they can provide is 16 Mbps. Our requirement is in Terabytes! We are still thinking if Du and Etisalat does not provide the submarine cables, what should be our next step for the connectivity of cables? Should it be through microwave link? But microwave link also has bandwidth limitations. Instead of going for microwave, we would prefer submarine cables. So, now we are in talks with all the international vendors for the submarine cables with good bandwidth.

A word to your regional colleagues. CIO’S should think of a big picture. They should maximize the automations. If we do the automated way, things will be much efficient than manual way. As a CIO, they should talk to the management and keep some cost benefit. They have to take the organization to a different level than other organizations. For example, our project is entirely on mobility. We have all apps. Our customer will not even need to call anyone over the phone. This is our development.

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JUNE 2017


DIGITIZATIONIN-LAW “Paperless legal environment is our strategic objective in the upcoming period‌..On the other hand, we developed an archiving mechanism process and application to ensure even if there will be paperwork related to the cases, it should be available in digital format and other materials can be destroyed when necessary.â€?

Being the integral sector of the country, how technically competent is Bahrain Public Prosecution? The Public Prosecution in Bahrain is one of the relatively advanced prosecutions in the region through the use of information and communication technology to process cases referred to the Public Prosecution. This helped us in achieving the highest levels of productivity & efficiency by connecting electronically all related parties in the case life cycle from the beginning to the end. Also internally, we deployed archiving tools and investigation applications, which both we developed in-house these applications ultimately serve the purpose of eliminating the paperwork as much as possible.

What technology has penetrated in your sector lately? Recently we added a few important e-service applications for the public and the lawyers as well. Furthermore, we introduced mobile applications with the most recent technological tools used in the public prosecution field. The purpose of these applications is to provide a 24/7 channel for public prosecution services, instead of serving the applicants during working hours only. Also, we implemented

a DNA profile management system which store the DNA profiles and compare them as well as connecting the result to any cases either solved or unsolved to obtain a reliable database for DNA profiles to be used for analysis and comparison whenever needed. Moreover, in order to be able to keep up with the increase in the legal workload and actions and to keep up with the technological revolution in the legal field. We upgraded our ICT infrastructure by using the latest virtualization tools and wireless communications to link multiple prosecution locations together while obtaining high level of security using this type of communication.

Do you consider going paperless? Paperless legal environment is our strategic objective in the upcoming period. To achieve that we have already developed some tools and applications to manage our routine legal work electronically. We have done that by converting the tasks and actions related to the cases like using the e-investigation application and integrate with the court to transfer the cases files electronically to the judges, by doing that we eliminated the paperwork and helped speed up the process while maintaining the security and confidentiality. On the other hand, we developed an archiving mechanism process

and application to ensure even if there will be paperwork related to the cases, it should be available in digital format and other materials can be destroyed when necessary. In the same matter almost all the applications that are submitted by the public or the lawyers are converted to e-services where the applicant can submit, follow and finalize his/her application electronically without the need to visit the persecutions offices except for rare situations.

How well structured is your backup and recovery models? Backup and recovery are one of the most areas we put more effort due to the sensitivity of the data we deal with everyday so we try to evaluate the models we use to ensure the high availability of data and files. For the database we use the simple backup model to operate or backup and recovery to ensure the high-performance backup operations, in the same matter to ensure the high availability and performance of the back & recovery operations we use the Disk to disk to tape (D2D2T) backup & recovery strategy which implemented using the differential and full back operation. The differential backup is used for daily and weekly backup for both file servers and databases and the full backup type is used for the monthly backup.

JUNE 2017





“FinTechs innovations will spur healthy competition with banks that will ultimately benefit the economy and customers. From banks’ perspective, they need to determine their strategy on how to deal with FinTech disruption.” Bank of Bahrain. THE DIGITAL 2017 So far in 2017, it can be observed that there is an uptake on Digital Banking and digital transformations. Digital Banking implies that banks are exploring new technologies such as blockchain, Big Data and analytics, digital identity, artificial intelligence/ bots to name few. Banks also focused on complying with regulatory requirements and therefore, exploring solutions to allow them to automate applicable regulatory reporting and compliance. However, many banks and financial services institutions were consumed with magnitude and complexity of cyber-attacks. Therefore, they were focusing on cybersecurity internal capabilities to ensure that they can detect and respond to cyber-attacks. Unfortunately, with limited resources and budgets, cybersecurity can potentially take away the attention of banks to leverage new technologies to spur innovation that ultimately contribute to the organization’s growth and profitability. THE BAHRAIN BFSI LANDSCAPE Bahrain has always been a banking hub in the region, specially for Islamic banking. The sector has evolved tremendously adopting to best practices and sound regulatory governance. With such evolution, vendors and service providers will witness an uptake on solutions that help banks comply with demanding regulatory requirements. Such as, FATCA, Common Reporting Standard, BASEL 3, IFRS 9 and upcoming VAT law in GCC. Aside for regulatory, banks will require solution to help them in the digital banking journey and would look for solution that help them in improving customer experience. Moreover, banks will start exploring



JUNE 2017

THE FINTECH REVOLUTION FinTechs disruption in this region is currently limited when compared with other regions such as North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. However, from medium to longterm perspectives, FinTechs will be more disruptive in this region. UAE for example have already started several FinTech initiatives and there are established FinTech companies. Bahrain lead by Bahrain Economic Development Board have great initiatives to position Bahrain as an Islamic FinTech hub while Central Bank of Bahrain has already issued consultation on FinTech sandboxing and crowdfunding regulations. FinTechs innovations will spur healthy competition with banks that will ultimately benefit the economy and customers. From banks’ perspective, they need to determine their strategy on how to deal with FinTech disruption.

AHMED ALBALOOSHI, CIO AL BARAKA BANKING GROUP technologies mentioned above. SECURE PAYMENTS Secure payments will continue an upward trajectory in adoption. This growth and uptake is not only fueled by banks but also FinTechs and existing traditional credit and debit cards providers. We will see a growth in secure cashless transactions and peer to peer payments. It is also expected to see country-led initiatives toward e-wallets just like the recently announcement by Central

THE FINTECH REVOLUTION As discussed above, advancement in technology, digitalization and FinTechs disruption will be factors for BFSI to ignite or accelerate their digital transformation journeys. This is obviously fueled by changing customers’ demography and customers’ behavior in embracing technological advancements. However, BFSI should upgrade their capabilities to safeguard their businesses against cybersecurity increasing threat landscape and comply with regulatory bodies demands. Banks will look into eliminating any obstacles toward their digital transformation journey. This might include replacing legacy systems and infrastructure and most importantly, Core Banking System renewals.



“Aviation by its nature brings complexity and our job as IT Consultants is to simplify it. My ultimate goal in Air Arabia is to make IT a true business enabler in order to achieve our airline strategy which is to be the world best low-cost carrier through optimized technologies ,making the passenger choosing this airline one of the unforgettable journeys.” First of all congratulations on your new role in Air Arabia! So, what value are you planning to add to the organization? Thank you. I spent more than 14 years in information technology, in which more than 8 years in aviation. In fact, my thesis for master degree was all about leveraging latest technologies to transform aviation industry to be simple and digital. If you go back to old days, issuing a return ticket required an expert while in our days, any passenger can issue for him/herself or for the family a return ticket, upgrade to a business or first class and purchase ancillaries with a smart phone. The most critical area in aviation is the Infrastructure and IT plays an important role in that. My experience working with most well-known and worldwide technology providers in addition to working with Gulf Air to transform the Kingdom airline to be one of the first airlines in the world to achieve 7 information technology certifications enabled me to start a new journey with Air Arabia. leveraging what I learnt previously and experience will be a great value for my new organization. My ultimate goal in air arabia is to make IT a true business enabler in order to achieve our airline strategy which is to be the world best low-cost carrier through optimized technologies ,making the passenger choosing this airline one of the unforgettable journeys. In your opinion, what are the various milestones that an aviation sector has to touch when it comes to adopting newer technologies? Regardless being aviation industry or other industry specific organization, adopting new technologies always takes time. For example, still I hear CIOs talking about


virtualization and that they are just starting to adopt a technology which is there for the last 10 years. In aviation specifically, it’s the other way around. Sometime technologies get enforced on airlines and airports in order to be compliant with certain rules mandate by the authorities such as baggage tracking resolution 753 which is impossible to be implemented without leveraging IoT. This resolution will come into effect by June 2018 and all IATA members must maintain an accurate inventory of baggage. Hence, from my views, adopting new technologies in aviation industry requires regulation authorization or enforcement as a major milestone in addition to passing safety requirements. How have the 3rd platform technologies made its mark in the sector? Would you book your flight online without a smart phone? Going back to old days, planning a simple trip required a lot of efforts

and time which you had to plan month ahead for a two days trip. Thanks to the 3rd platform and especially social media which made everyone on this planet to have his own smart phone creating greater opportunities for organizations to make more revenue. According to some statistics, by 2017 most of the organizations will spend 50% on 3rdplatform technologies while this number will increase to 60% by 2020. On the other hand, airlines empowered with big data engines to quickly decide on opening and closing routes where it required leveraging the information generated from social media enabling them to forecast quickly and efficiently. Finally, I noticed 3rdplatform impact on IT professionals as well, its really difficult for an IT person to keep his job or raising with all those changes brought by this platform where only smart and fast IT will continue to raise.

JUNE 2017




EN ROUTE DIGITIZATION “We are looking for partners who can help the bank think outside the box (like Fintechs), who help deliver service excellence through technological advancements like Robotics, Block Chain, Big Data, Cloud computing, API Banking while driving value for money.”

There is potential impact of introduction of VAT to our organization. There is a dedicated cross-functional team from finance, operations, procurement and technology that is working on the bank’s readiness for the VAT deadline.

From a customer point of view, what are the smart services available for the Mashreq’s customers?

NITIN BHARGAVA, CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER, BUSINESS TECHNOLOGY, MASHREQ BANK From a technology standpoint, what would be Mashreq’s roadmap for 2017? Mashreq Technology has three primary areas of focus: l Technology – focus on Digital Transformation, Mobility, Robotics, Analytics l Process – Agile methodology, Tools strategy, Information Security, Automation l People – Building functional capabilities, Centres of Excellence, strategic partnerships

Mashreq is on the journey of digitizing the internal as well as the external processes, delivering an end-to-end process automation. We have adopted tools that are automating business processes, digitizing each step to go paperless, and to push for self-service that is driving instant fulfilment. In the last 12 months, we have removed 45% of manual touchpoints in business processes to not only reduce the servicing turnaround time, but to also reduce processing errors.

How are you planning to make digitization the spine of your business models?

Would the introduction of VAT impact your organization? Is your ERP business ready?



JUNE 2017

Substantial work has been done to empower Mashreq customers to have a seamless service experience l Mobile Banking – All types of customers (Retail, Corporate, Traders, etc.) now have service offerings on mobile l Chatbot – A robot service agent to answer service queries and fulfil simple transactions without manual intervention l Siri – a voice recognition interface enabling users to give touchless instructions l IVR – A channel through which our esteemed customers interact with a human interface for their banking transactions l Multi-currency ATMs – Ability to withdraw multiple foreign currencies from ATMs using their AED account l Remote Advisory - A digital operating branch through video calling facility for assisting customers to do their banking transactions l Analytics, Remittance, Track and Trace( something in line with multi geography service for our customers

What kind of technology or vendor partnership are you looking forward to in 2017? We are looking for partners who can help the bank think outside the box (like Fintechs), who help deliver service excellence through technological advancements like Robotics, Block Chain, Big Data, Cloud computing, API Banking while driving value for money.


PICKING THE RIGHT TECHNOLOGY INGREDIENTS FOR SUSTAINABILITY “With the latest technologies like mobility, IoTetc, we know that we are building this ecosystem of objectives and it is harnessing all this information which is improving our operations and making our service delivery very effective.”

The brand tagline of Farnek says ‘technology and sustainability driven company’. What is the claim behind that?

Secondly, we are also working with sensors. So, in our services, we are doing maintenance of plumbing systems, so we are using vibration sensors. So, if a motor vibrates, the threshold starts sending the vibration through SMS, through e-mails to the right people, so that an action can be taken. Traditionally, we do technical rounds but what these sensors do is, they monitor 24/7. So, we moved from traditional reactive maintenance to proactive maintenance. Finally, we are more into mobility solutions. We have deployed a mobility solution in our various contracts where a work order can be delivered to the ground staff on his mobile phone so that there is no delay between a customer complain and the job is communicated to the technician on ground. So, all the admin hours and efforts are reduced by automating and introducing this mobility solutions.

Our vision and mission is based on technology and sustainability because as a company we believe that in our service industry, technology is supporting it so well. It can be very effective and smarter if we use technology and be sustainable in delivering the services. So, that is why we have updated our vision and mission by making us a technology and sustainability oriented company. An example of that is, in our service delivery, we are using mobility solution, use of smart devices, so that we can update the data from the field onto the cloud which are dynamically updating all the reporting and the dashboard for the management and the customer.

Can you please tell us about the various niche technologies that have improved Farnek’s efficiencies? The first one I would like to mention is the smart watches. We have recently won the technology implementation of the year in FM awards 2017. The smart watch called Efficiency Plus has won the award. With the use of this solution basically, since we are in service delivery and labour oriented company, we have over 4000 employees. So, it is very important to have a control and good resource management and scheduling system, that you ensure that the resource



JUNE 2017

JAVERIA AIJAZ, DIRECTOR IT, FARNEK you allocated for a particular service delivery has been active in delivering and doing its job. So, this smart watch is worn by each and every technician and a cleaner which can be tracked and which can be informed about their jobs through the smart app and cloud service.

As a Director of IT, what would be your top 3 priorities for 2017? Firstly, I would like to digitalize my key business processes so that we can improve manpower productivity in optimizing the cost. The second this is I would like to support the business with technology so that the response time can be improved. And finally, since we are in building maintenance by having all the operational move from traditional to proactive maintenance, I would like to optimize the building performance that we are maintaining for our client.

ENTERPRISES STRUGGLE to deliver Availability across even the most modern environments

Veeam recently surveyed over 1000 global enterprise decision makers to understand the protection, recovery and Availability challenges faced by modern organizations. Research insights identified a startling amount of under-protected or unreliably recoverable data within these organizations, seriously hindering their digital transformation strategies.

It's alarming to see that...

82% 77%

Resulting downtime is inevitable and extremely costly! Downtime happens and it costs the average enterprise each year

of organizations are experiencing an Availability Gap and are unable to meet the uptime SLAs expected

of organizations are experiencing a Protection Gap and are unable to protect data frequently or reliably

$21.8 MILLION 36%

Cost increase year-over-year

How is this affecting digital transformation within the enterprise?

The impact of downtime or data loss



of enterprises recognize that digital transformation is critical to their future

Loss of customer confidence,

Damage to brand integrity,

Loss of employee confidence,

Diversion of project resources,







are planning these initiatives now

admit a lack of Availability is stifling innovation

What can your organization afford to lose? With an average annual cost of $21.8M in Availability challenges, organizations cannot afford the status quo any longer. Organizations must accelerate their planning and implementation of modern Availability solutions that will ensure reliable and rapid recovery.



Profile for GEC Media Group

The Titans 2017  

Rising Above the Threats

The Titans 2017  

Rising Above the Threats


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