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KHALEEJ TIMES, Saturday, Jul 31, 2021 | Zul Hijjah 21, 1442

UAE country to be in to experience futuristic ICT technologies

Emirates: While IT has historically been focused on cost and stability, business value today is derived from agility, customer-centricity, digital goals & strategy, and velocity, says Asad Haque, entrepreneur and Visionary ICT Advisor.

Speaking to Khaleej Times in an exclusive interview, Haque highlighted the evolving role of technology today and its significance in helping to build the smart cities of the future. “Many studies have pointed out that project management, software development and engineering, and data-related proficiencies will be paramount.”

Among the most in-demand jobs in 2021, he said, will be Artificial Intelligence (AI) specialists, strategy-minded software developers, business-focused data scientists, AIOps analysts (Artificial Intelligence for IT Operations), cybersecurity architects, Cloud architects, and IT directors who demonstrate soft skills.

“Given the perpetual churn of technology, it is critical for IT professionals to keep updating their skills continuously,” he added. “This is especially true in this time, as organisations lean heavily on IT in transforming the business amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.”

Haque, who has been a key player in the UAE’s ICT landscape for more than 30 years, noted that the UAE has always been at the forefront of technology experimentation in the Middle East region. Recalling some of the highlights of his career, he revealed that he had been instrumental in launching the first PC made in the UAE, by the brand CUB PC. “This was a success and created a huge demand for IBM compatible PC’s with Microsoft pre-installed & Multimedia ready, with date/connectivity Internet offered by Etisalat in 1990’s.”

Other successes quickly followed, including the launch of Samsung’s HDD storage & world-class TFT Monitors, and further multi-million XEROX’s printing & copying solutions for SME segment. Haque also introduced and installed various niche technologies across market segments such as Firewall, Antivirus, Unified & Convergent solutions, IP Networking, Data, Voice Encryption & Cryptographic solutions, Enterprise Servers & Data-Centre Solutions, IPTV, and AI based solutions to major enterprise clients.

He credits the wise leadership of the UAE for paving the way for the adoption of new technologies and innovation across industries.

“Under the visionary leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, we have seen the transformation towards Smart Dubai, an initiative to digitize all government services to improve access, efficiency, and customer satisfaction,” he said. “The UAE has created multiple departments for the adoption of technology in all aspects of business dealings, including B2B, G2B and most predominantly, G2C.”

He pointed out that many government departments are offering most of their services online, with the ability for users to check their service status with full transparency. This will improve users’ overall quality of life, boost happiness levels, and maximize visitor satisfaction.

“In this context, if we look at the consumer spectrum, Artificial Intelligence has played a vital part in getting the relevant products and services to the consumers,” Haque explained. “By analyzing trends, and buying patterns, organisations can now predict, with almost extreme accuracy, what their customers would want to purchase next.”

Similarly, he pointed to the critical role that the Internet of Things (IoT) has played, mainly in the industrialization process. With the relevant technology in place, organisations can introduce efficiency, and drastically improve sustainability within their environments, by conserving the scarce resources of this world. Machine to Machine (M2M) is driving the IoT industry by connecting machines, devices, and objects to the Internet, turning them into ‘intelligent’ assets that communicate with the world around them. The latest M2M technology with IoT solutions opens up a new range of possibilities for our customers worldwide.

“Dubai is leading the drive to IoT and the 4th Industrial Revolution,” Haque said. “The government itself has rolled out its IoT programme under the Dubai Internet of Things strategy. Additionally, the government is driving innovation with a plan to grow the local industry from $36.7 billion to $89 billion by 2031. We can expect to see significant investment into the industry in the coming few years with a focus on advanced technologies and the Fourth Industrial Revolution solutions and applications.”

Looking back at an illustrious career that has seen him take up several positions at companies including Infosys, HP, Samsung, Xerox, and Dubai Internet City, Haque says that he is most amazed at the evolution towards 5G. “We started from a point where you would leave your computer on overnight to download a single movie, to today being able to download UHD movies in a matter of seconds. And then you look at how this technology is the foundation of people being able to work, play, and stay connected, and you realize just how remarkable it is.”

Haque also highlighted how Dubai has teamed up with some of the biggest technology giants in the world to launch a national plan for coders to set up 1,000 major digital companies within five years. The new initiative has been launched in cooperation with Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Cisco, IBM, HPE, LinkedIn, Nvidia and facebook. The plan is to ensure more than double the investment directed to start-ups – from Dh1.5 billion to Dh4 billion.

“All this new technology, products, and services needs a strong and robust medium to be able to successfully offer these to the millions of people,” he said. “This is where 5G plays its part. This new-gen platform would be able to provide the speed, latency, uptime, and accuracy needed to offer these new technological advancements to the public in general.”

Looking ahead at the role that IT will play across our lives, Haque says that it will evolve from being a form of technology to an all-encompassing lifestyle. “If you are not directly involved in working in the ICT industry, then you will be an enabler.”

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