“We have a proven track record of delivering complex digital projects” – Anas Naim, Orange Business

CNME Editor Mark Forker spoke to Anas Naim, Managing Director – Middle East and Turkey, at Orange Business, in an effort to better understand how AI is driving the next evolution of smart cities, which industry leaders including Naim have labelled as ‘cognitive’ cities.

Anas Naim joined Orange Business from HPE in 2019.

He was initially appointed as the Head of Business Development for Orange Business in the MEA region, but in April of this year, he was given a promotion after playing a critical role in solidifying the company’s standing as a digital leader.

Naim was appointed as Managing Director for Orange Business in the Middle East and Turkey, and has now been tasked with the responsibility of driving the company’s growth across the Gulf region.

Naim kickstarted the conversation by highlighting how they are committed to serving customers that have a ‘digital-first’ strategy.

“Our next-generation connectivity solutions are a core part of our business, but we’re expanding and growing rapidly in the digital services space from cloud, security, data and AI. We have a very vast and diverse portfolio when it comes to serving customers with a digital first strategy and mindset,” said Naim.

Orange Business is the Enterprise Division of Orange Group, but are best known in the Middle East for their role in driving iconic smart city projects all across the region.

“We have a very strong track record in the region when it comes to smart cities, and we have spearheaded a number of major smart city projects right across the Middle East in countries such as the UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. We have the local experience and a proven track record of delivering really complex digital services projects like smart cities,” said Naim.

Naim touched on the importance of delivering seamless experiences and outlined their focus on enabling their customers to connect to any type of cloud.

“We’re a leader when it comes to network connectivity, and we’re always trying to evolve in this area especially now with the demand in cloud connectivity. We are acutely aware of the fact that a hot topic in the industry is how do global organisations connect to the cloud seamlessly from different offices across the world? However, we have strong solutions based around that, and we believe that we can capitalise in this vertical,” said Naim.

In September, Orange Business announced that it will design, build and run a new end-to-end platform, integrating AI and data analytics into existing KAFD (King Abdullah Financial District) digital infrastructure in Saudi Arabia.

The Smart City Platform will enable KAFD to optimise data and advance its smart city experience using new technologies.

Naim touched on the significance of the KAFD project.

“It has been a very, very exciting time for us at Orange Business. The signing ceremony we had with the King Abdullah Financial District in September, was really significant for us, because it is such an iconic project. It is going to be one of the biggest real estate projects in the world, and we’ve been selected as the master digital services integrator for the city itself. It is incredible recognition for us, and testament to what we can do when we have been trusted to deliver a project of this magnitude,” said Naim.

The dial of the conversation shifted towards the participation of Orange Business at GITEX.

Naim said the conference provided the perfect platform for the company to demonstrate what they and their partner Genesys have been working on in augmented customer experience.

“GITEX was very productive for us in terms of really accelerating conversations around augmented customer experience. At GITEX, we shared a booth with our partner Genesys, and we demonstrated our end-to-end journey when it comes to augmented customer experience. It is a very important topic for our customers because it is a way to serve their clients through the different digital omni-channels in a seamless way,” said Naim.

Naim also added how important collaboration is for Orange Business in terms of fuelling and driving new innovations.

“Orange Business is all about partnerships, and it is a key component in our business model. We have some very strong partnerships with some of the biggest technology companies in the world, and we’re working closely with them in terms of how we go-to market around smart cities and digital services,” said Naim.

In terms of the trends and technologies that Orange Business are looking at, Naim said that AI had created a third wave when it comes to the evolution of smart cities.

“AI is everywhere and you can see it being built into every single technology that we use. If you look at our smart city offering, data analytics has always been a core function of smart cities. However, the concept of smart cities has been around for a long time, but with the implementation of AI into smart cities it has now created a third wave in the evolution of smart cities into cognitive cities. This opens the door to a whole range of new use-cases that bring together revenue generating, operational efficiency and customer experience, so it covers the full range of value-adds when we talk about AI,” said Naim.

Naim stressed that Generative AI would also be a key driver in accelerating innovation in augmented customer experiences, but also reiterated the importance of cloud technology.

“When we look at our augmented customer experience then we believe the advent of Generative AI is going to be a gamechanger. Gen AI is going to facilitate and provide huge value when it comes to interactions with our clients for our customers. Cloud is always a key priority for us, and we’re always looking at ways in which we can improve the experience of our customers connecting to any cloud. We have good propositions in this area, and our Orange Evolution program that we have been developing over the last number of years has been a huge success for us,” said Naim.

Naim said another concept that had emerged of late was ‘smart city as-a-service’.

“The other interesting concept that we are looking at is smart city as-a-service. The whole driver of this is how do we shorten the time-to-market, because we know these are complex projects? We do believe the smart city as-a-service offering will drive this for our customers, which will allow them to quickly have a minimal viable product that you can see value from,” said Naim.

Orange Business are well-established in the Middle East region, but as Naim acknowledged there is huge potential in the market, and disclosed that they will continue to ramp up investment in the KSA.

“The Middle East is a very exciting market for Orange Business, and we see huge potential across the region. There is huge investment in the region, and we are well-established across the market here in the Gulf, especially in the UAE. We have ramped up our investment in KSA, and are looking at making that our regional HQ. Saudi Arabia is pursuing an ambitious economic program that is underpinned by technology, and we want to be at the forefront of that, and that is why we will continue to invest heavily in the KSA marketplace, and we will leverage our expertise and knowledge to help the KSA achieve their digital goals,” concluded Naim.

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