“All success stories start with a vision and successful visions are based on strong pillars” – said Crown Prince and Chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud. True to his words and with three key strong pillars in mind, the Crown Prince announced the kingdom’s Vision 2030 in 2016, a huge economic reform which set the kingdom on a course of rapid transformation that aims to diversify the Arabian Gulf’s largest economy away from oil.
At its core, the plan calls for increasing non-oil revenue more than threefold to 600 billion Saudi riyals by 2020 and fivefold, to 1 trillion riyals, by 2030. Other targets include the localisation of oil and gas sectors from 40 per cent in 2015 to 75 per cent by 2030.
“Currently, Saudi Arabia is moving in the right direction specially with the new leadership which concentrates on GDP and bringing alternatives of the oil economy to have more of technology-based economy. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has long been dependent on oil for economic growth and social development, but the world economy is changing: a fourth industrial revolution is underway. It will fuel our growth and development into the future and empower the people of Saudi Arabia to seize the opportunities of the digital age.
However, a digital Saudi Arabia cannot be delivered by government alone. It has to be done through collaboration with the private sector, young people and new entrepreneurs. It is always good to export than import. It was a dream to export technology 5 years ago but today we can see the results. Some software companies introduced cloud services that made it even easier to break the frontiers and work with the international audience. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is moving steadily towards the adoption of technology. We recently announced that we will one of the first countries in the world to have 5G network. In the payment’s platform, we have 6 payment platforms like Metapay, SEC Pay, etc which were launched in the last few months. With new products and services, I am sure we will have new announcements in the next 3 or 6 months. The MCIT will lay the foundation for digital transformation and create the conditions to make it possible,” said Abdulaziz AlOraij, Foss Director, MCIT
The Digital Transformation
Saudi Arabia’s digital transformation is reaching its “tipping point” in 2019, with two-thirds of Saudi Arabia’s IT decision-makers planning to accelerate their cloud-based digital transformation in 2019, according to a recent YouGov survey of 306 CIOs and IT decision-makers in the Kingdom. Among the survey respondents, 83 percent agree cloud is important for integrating emerging technologies such as AI and machine learning, blockchain, and the IoT. Combining all on one platform is vital for organizations, Smart Cities, and governments to drive the biggest benefit for transforming citizen and customer experiences.
For example, an oil and gas firm could use blockchain to securely track each point an oil barrel, use AI and machine learning for planning efficient routes, and the IoT for predictive maintenance on a rig. Banks can secure transactions via blockchain, retailers can personalize shopping experiences with AI and machine learning for analysing purchase history, and governments can enable smart traffic with the Internet of Things reducing traffic congestion.
“Supporting the Kingdom’s digital transformation on the cloud, SAP is the first multi-national business applications company to go live on and onboard customers on to a cloud data center in the Kingdom, as part of its wider 4-year SAR 285 million Saudi Arabia investment plan,” commented Mohammad AlZaubi, Head of Global Channel and General Business – Middle East North, SAP.
The aim of the kingdom is to transform its economy to being digitally enabled and thrive on international trade and tourism. Government and semi government, oil and gas, transportation and many other verticals are driving IT infrastructure growth in the company to support the vision. Sectors like retail, hospitality are driving IT investments for technologies such as security, networking which are crucial for digital transformation. K.S. Parag, Managing Director for FVC says – “FVC is playing the vital role of being an enabler for digital transformation, and through our robust partner network, we are providing these organizations with solutions to power their DX initiatives and stay true to Vision 2030.”
In support of achieving the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030, Commvault hosted it first ever Connections Live event in Riyadh. The event included customers and partners highlighting some of the key trends in data protection and digital transformation impacting industries in Saudi Arabia and the wider region. Wael Mustafa, Area Vice President for the Middle East at Commvault commented that KSA continues to be a key market for growth in the industry with tremendous opportunities available for unlocking value in data for businesses and government.
National Industrial Development & Logistics Program
The kingdom plans to spend 100bn riyals in 2019 and 2020 as part of NIDLP which targets 1.6 million new jobs and aims to attract as much as 1.6tn riyals in investment by 2030. The program focuses on four key sectors: Industry, Mining, Energy and Logistics, and many enablers including the development of Policies and Regulations, Financial Enablement, Infrastructure, Industrial Lands, Special Economic Zones, Research, Development and Innovation (RDI).
Automation being one of the key factors is enabling business growth and efficiency of operations. By implementing fully integrated, effective, future-proof automation solutions and keeping their facilities up-to-date with modernization and digitalization, businesses can not only speed up their processes and satisfy changing customers’ needs but also stay profitable by adding greater productivity into their supply chain.
The Saudi Arabian group Almarai is a great example of a business that identifies and evolves with industry trends. Almarai is one of the largest vertically integrated dairy companies in the world managing complex flows of goods on a daily basis. To serve the growing domestic and international markets, Almarai invested in automated picking, stacking and storing solutions from Swisslog and KUKA for their palletized fresh and refrigerated foods. Not only that, the company also invested in an Augmented Reality Customer Service to ensure that the new logistics center runs smoothly and is ready for Industry 4.0 said Alain Kaddoum, General Manager, Swisslog Middle East.
The kingdom will seek $425bn in infrastructure investment through the Vision 2030 program. The program seeks investment in energy, mining and industrial projects. Rail projects spanning thousands of kilometres, and extensive airport refurbishments, are also a part of the over-arching drive that comes as part of Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia’s economic diversification mandate. Around 70 contracts worth more than $53.6bn (SAR200bn) are expected to be signed.
In line with this infrastructural development, Saudi Arabia is looking to develop on a technological front as well. The most rapid and significant changes are currently taking place in the networking domain says Mena Migally, Regional Director – Territory and Telco for Middle East, Turkey and North Africa (METNA) at Riverbed. “The Kingdom’s service providers have been revamping their network backbones and investing heavily in 5G technologies and in spreading fibre connectivity across the entire Kingdom. This represents a huge investment given the country’s size and topography. Riverbed has been working with the major Saudi telecom operators to optimize and safeguard these investments by delivering monitoring of performance as well as network configurations. We set configuration baselines and track the parameters in real-time. This provides a single source of truth across even the most expansive networks, ensuring everything can be audited from both a security and performance perspective. “
BTX Show 2019
In line with the country’s vision, GEC Media Group hosted it first ever Business and Technology Transformation Road Show 2019 in Riyadh on 23rd April.
The BTX Show 2019 road show recognised the new fundamentals that are driving business, recognised the role of the CEO in driving transformation, the role of teams in rolling out transformation, and the role of technology partners in enabling that transformation. Do turn to Page 32 for details on BTX Show Riyadh.
A New Kingdom of Prince Saud
Innovation and use of smart technologies are what will drive the kingdom to the next level and help them achieve continual growth in the future. How the new kingdom of Prince Saud will look like is worth the wait to watch.
By : Divsha Bhat