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Etisalat Presents Digital Connect

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The enterprise is changing as the Internet has revolutionised traditional infrastructures. The rise of trends such as cloud, big data and mobility has caused for a rethink on how a business approaches its ICT operations.

As a result, organisations are at an important tipping point and have decisions to make. Should they be in the cloud? Should they be outsourcing non-core business functions? Should they allow employees to bring their own devices to work? And where does security come into play?

Etisalat in partnership with CNME hosted the 2014 Digital Connect forum at Grand Hyatt on 5th May. Previously called the ICT Forum, Digital Connect has updated its look and feel to reflect the modern digital revolution including mobility, M2M communication, and the Internet of Things. For its seventh annual forum, Digital Connect created a dynamic agenda with speakers from Etisalat, salesforce.com, MBC Group and Master Card  and simultaneously played host to hundreds of the region’s IT professionals.

Etisalat is asking its customers and partners if they are ready for the digital revolution – are businesses in the Middle East prepared to disrupt the business status quo and invest in knowledge technology while maintaining the ability to separate the hype from reality and manage risk without stifling potential? It is a large order to fill, but the service provider is encouraging enterprises to utilise Etisalat services to help revolutionise the way they do business.

Abdulla Hashim, Senior Vice President, Digital Services, Etisalat kicked off the event with the opening keynote speech. Hashim described in no uncertain terms that Etisalat is a company that is moving forward alongside the development of digital solutions. Also, he added that Digital Connect would be a forum to network with other IT professions and explore the ways in which Etisalat can support businesses to leverage disruptive technology such as mobile, Big Data, social and cloud.

JP Rangaswami, Chief Scientist, Salesforce then took the stage to walk the audience through how we consume what can be thought of as a stream of information. “We are living in a stream of information, it is like drinking from a fire hose,” explained Rangaswami, “the thing that lets us live in this stream is filters.” He went on to emphasise the need for business to take advantage of both the abundance of information available, and to identify scarcities in the market.

Next on stage was York Weyers, Mobile Solutions, Etisalat. He discussed the need for a single, unified platform to connect employees, places, content, customers and devices. “We have to join millions of end to end connections,” said Weyers, “In order to make this vision a reality we are delivering a platform from Etisalat and SAP that connects enterprise, vending, equipment and more with Etisalat Mobile, HANA, analytics and cloud.”

Etham Eldem, Senior Director M2M Services, Etisalat supported Weyers in pointing out that by 2020 there will be an estimated 50 billion connected devices to manage. With all of these devices, creating waves of information there will need to be managed services. “For those who like to have experts to monitor their data and services, we will be there to provide managed services,” said Eldem.

After a quick break, Ramesh Krishna Bhandari, Manager Product Marketing, Hosting and Cloud Services, Etisalat joined the stage to discuss the ways in which software ownership has evolved. “We have moved on from a simple ownership model where licences are bought and the transaction is over. Today, we consume cloud via a software vendor for that particular service. This means we have to juggle multiple contracts, support centres, back ends, etc.” As Etisalat moves into the role of a Cloud Service Broker, the company will strive to streamline this confusion by providing an end-to-end managed service.

Sudhir Menon, Senior Manager, Product Marketing and Security, Etisalat closed out the key speakers with a word on security. As the region continues to grow rapidly, he warned, the GCC is becoming a prime target for hackers. “A surprising 85 percent of IT professionals and security consultants say we are not prepared for this emerging threat landscape,” Menon said.

The conference was capped off by a panel discussion on Smart Cities. On the panel was Mehdi Quraishi, Senior Director/Product Management and Marketing, Etisalat, Ali Radhi, CIO, MBC Group, Mohammed Qadade, VP – Head of Government Services, MENA, MasterCard and Ghrazi Atallah, Managing Director, neXgen. The panel agreed that, as we move toward smarter cities and environments, all providers from vendors to government will have to take part in creating modern, liveable spaces that put the citizen first.

With questions and crowd participation throughout, Digital Connect was nothing short of a success for all parties. Etisalat certainly has a keen eye on the future of the region and will be offering a number of products and services that will support the region’s businesses and governments in the ongoing process of remaining current.

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