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Tue 12 Nov 2019 11:04 AM

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GCC countries must lead the next industrial revolution

There is particular urgency for countries in the Gulf to lead Industry 4.0 and to wean themselves off the constrains of oil-derived revenues, said Mazen Pharaon, Leader of Deloitte's new Digital Delivery Centre in Riyadh

GCC countries must lead the next industrial revolution

Mazen Pharaon, Leader of Deloitte’s new Digital Delivery Centre in Riyadh

The world now finds itself being dramatically altered by a new industrial revolution – Industry 4.0 – bringing technological developments that will transform economies and societies far more profoundly than any previous period of rapid development and change.

The technological singularity, the moment when the capabilities of artificial intelligence finally surpass that of humans for good, is potentially within the lifetime of most millennials, bringing unfathomable opportunities and threats to us all.

In coming years, we will need to answer fundamental questions about the future of the workplace as well as life at home: What’s the point of employees if work can be done more efficiently by machines? How protective should we be of our data and who is using it? How can we use technology to improve our quality of life?

There is not one person, one organisation or even one generation that can provide the solutions to such big, and often ethical, questions. What is clear, however, is that change needs to happen quickly and, in this region, it requires a combination of training younger generations as well as international perspective as to what is working effectively elsewhere.

While nations around the world are researching and evaluating how they can harness the potential of technology such as big data, robotics and AI, there is particular urgency for countries in the Gulf to lead Industry 4.0 and to wean themselves off the constrains of oil-derived revenues.

Fortunately, the nature of this threat has been recognised by GCC governments and is most evident in national social and economic development plans such as Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, which states that ‘a sophisticated digital infrastructure is integral to today’s advanced industrial activities’.

UAE ambassador

Last week, the UAE took action, becoming the first country in the world to appoint a dedicated ambassador for the fourth industrial revolution. The ambassador will be mandated to not only ensure the successful delivery of the government’s Industry 4.0 programme, but also to facilitate greater collaboration between the public and private sectors, an alliance that will be critical for successfully handling the complexity and all-encompassing nature of technological change.

Deloitte is already helping public and private sector organisations across the region understand, prepare for, and manage, these structural shifts. Through Deloitte Digital, we have created a new form of creative consultancy that brings together transformational strategies which can deliver real business outcomes to clients.

It’s one thing to understand the basics of blockchain, cloud computing or nanotechnology, but such developments only deliver value if used in the right way. This is the knowledge gap that Deloitte Digital bridges, and the team includes experts with different competencies and experiences to ensure that technology is always being used to make a positive impact and improvement on everyday lives elevating the human experience.

In the last few weeks, we further demonstrated our commitment to helping shape the future of the region with the opening of the Deloitte Digital Center in Riyadh. It’s the first Digital Centre in the Middle East, but has the ability to tap into an expansive global network, and will support the growing focus on digital initiatives by businesses and the public sector across the Middle East.

Through capabilities such as innovation labs, the creative studio, digital factory and the digital academy, the Digital Center will provide a cooperative environment in which clients can test and refine concepts, experiment with pioneering innovations and digital technologies, create new services and business models, before they are brought to market.

There will also be a big push to help clients train their workforces with the skills needed for Industry 4.0. Indeed, the Saudi Government’s National Transformation Program has set out a series of interim goals to be achieved by 2030 that include the creation of over 450,000 jobs in the non-government sector and the strengthening of partnerships with the private sector to increase the private sector’s contribution to GDP, something that Deloitte is already supporting.

GCC nations have a clear opportunity to drive forward the next industrial revolution. The roadmap has been laid out by key decision makers across the region, who have been among the first in the world to understand and accept what is at stake. The journey is underway, and while there will undoubtedly be challenges to overcome and disruptions to manage,  the promise of working together for brighter tomorrow should remain a highly motivating factor for all of us.

Mazen Pharaon, Leader of Deloitte’s new Digital Delivery Centre in Riyadh

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