Features, Insight, Interviews

Raqmiyat, Navigating Cloud Transformation

Bahaa Indary, General Manager at Raqmiyat LLC, shares key processes for successful digital and cloud transformation in the Middle East, addressing challenges faced by legacy-heavy players.   

Can you outline to our readers how your company has harnessed cutting-edge technologies to transform how you conduct your day-to-day operations to deliver the ‘experience’ that your customers, end-users, and partners’ demand in the experience economy? 

In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, harnessing cutting-edge technologies is not just a choice but a necessity to stay competitive and meet the ever-increasing demands of our customers, end-users, and partners. At Raqmiyat, we’ve embraced this reality and have strategically leveraged technology to transform our day-to-day operations and deliver exceptional experiences in the experience economy. First and foremost, we’ve heavily invested in data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) that have enabled us to personalise our products and services, tailoring them to individual needs and expectations. Furthermore, our commitment to cloud computing has been instrumental in ensuring seamless and scalable operations. Cloud technology has empowered us to scale our services rapidly, ensuring that we can handle increasing demand while maintaining high levels of performance and security. 

In addition to technology adoption, we place a strong emphasis on cybersecurity. Given the increasing threats in the digital age, we’ve implemented state-of-the-art security measures to protect our customers’ data and ensure trust in our brand. By embracing AI, automation, cloud computing, cybersecurity, and sustainability, we have transformed how we operate. This transformation has enabled us to not only meet but exceed the expectations of our customers, end-users, and partners in the experience economy. We are committed to staying at the forefront of technological innovation to continue delivering exceptional experiences. 

OpenAI and ChatGPT are all the rage, and these new AI integrations have been tipped to fundamentally reshape all major industries as we know them. What is your view on OpenAI, are you excited by the new opportunities that it will present, or do you think more regulation is needed to control its impact on society?  

I believe OpenAI and the advancements in AI technology, such as ChatGPT, hold immense potential to revolutionise various industries. These innovations offer opportunities for automation, personalisation, and improved decision-making, which can enhance efficiency and convenience across sectors like healthcare, finance, education and more. 

However, with great power comes great responsibility. It’s crucial to strike a balance between fostering innovation and implementing regulation. While the potential benefits are exciting, there are valid concerns about the ethical and societal implications of AI. We must address issues like bias, transparency, data privacy, and job displacement. 

Regulation is necessary to ensure that AI is developed and used ethically and responsibly. It should focus on promoting transparency in AI systems, preventing discrimination, protecting user data, and establishing clear guidelines for accountability. 

I’m excited about the transformative potential of OpenAI and AI technologies, but I also believe that a thoughtful and balanced approach, including appropriate regulation, is essential to harness their benefits while mitigating potential risks to society. 

There has been a swathe of digital and cloud transformation projects in the Middle East over the last 3-5 years. However, many have struggled with the demands of cloud transformation, especially legacy-heavy players. What are the key processes that enterprises need to adopt to ensure a successful transformation journey?  

For a successful digital and cloud transformation, enterprises should begin with a comprehensive assessment of their existing systems, aligning strategies with their business objectives. Change management is crucial to prepare employees for the impending changes and ensure a smooth transition. Legacy systems should be modernised and seamlessly integrated with cloud solutions, with a focus on robust data strategies that prioritise security, compliance, and accessibility. Strengthening security measures and complying with regulations is paramount. Leveraging cloud scalability while closely monitoring and optimising costs is essential. Embracing DevOps practices, collaborating with cloud service providers and partners, and establishing governance and continuity plans are integral parts of the transformation journey. Regularly measuring key performance indicators and considering sustainability practices will help enterprises unlock the full potential of digital and cloud transformation while addressing challenges such as expertise gaps, legacy system complexities, and cost management. 

In your expert opinion, what do you view as the biggest problem facing enterprises in the IT and technology industry across the Middle East?  

One of the significant challenges confronting IT and technology enterprises across the Middle East is the need to adapt to rapidly evolving technological landscapes. However, persistent and potential challenges for these enterprises in the region include Cybersecurity Threats: With the increasing digitalisation of businesses and government services, robust cybersecurity measures are essential to safeguard sensitive data and critical infrastructure. Data privacy and compliance with international standards pose additional challenges. Talent Shortages: Finding and retaining skilled IT professionals and technology experts is a common challenge. Fostering a pipeline of local talent with the necessary skills is crucial for industry growth.  Regulatory and Compliance Issues: Varying regulatory frameworks across Middle Eastern countries can make it complex for enterprises operating across borders. Digital Transformation: Many organizations are still undergoing digital transformation, which can be both costly and resource-intensive. Infrastructure Development: While significant investments have been made in technology infrastructure, some regions may still face challenges related to reliable internet connectivity and digital infrastructure.  

This supplement is titled Tech Vision, so with that in mind, what do you think the future holds for the IT and tech sector across the Middle East, what will be the key trends and technologies that will really champion change over the next ‘digital decade’? 

The Middle East has seen the emergence of startup ecosystems and innovation hubs in places like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Riyadh. These hubs will continue to foster innovation and entrepreneurship. There are several key trends and technologies that are likely to shape the industry over the next digital decade: Digital Transformation will continue to be a dominant trend as organisations  across various sectors, including government, healthcare, finance, and education seek to improve efficiency and customer experiences through technology. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) will play a crucial role in automating processes, enhancing decision-making, and enabling personalised services. Applications can range from chatbots and virtual assistants to predictive analytics in healthcare and finance.  

With the growing reliance on digital infrastructure, there will be a heightened emphasis on cybersecurity. The Middle East is likely to see increased investments in cybersecurity technologies to protect critical infrastructure and sensitive data. Blockchain technology is gaining traction in the Middle East, especially in the financial sector. It can be used for secure transactions, supply chain management, and even in government services for enhancing transparency and reducing fraud. Several cities in the Middle East, such as Dubai and Riyadh, have ambitious smart city initiatives. These projects will continue to evolve, leveraging IoT, data analytics, and AI to improve urban living and sustainability. Governments in the region are actively promoting technology adoption. They will likely continue to play a pivotal role in driving innovation through incentives, policies and infrastructure investments. 

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