By Ramia Farrage
With nearly half of large companies having no clue what their business model will look like in three years time, Mohammed Amin, senior vice president, Middle East, Turkey and Africa at Dell EMC, says embracing modern technological advances is no longer an option
While robots are progressively doing the work of humans and rendering many jobs obsolete, and technologies like AI, 5G and blockchain are heightening the expectations of businesses and governments, there’s no reason to be nervous.
“You and I are going to be replaced in our present job but we’re going to have a much better job to do because machine learning, artificial intelligence, robots, hologram, augmented reality… this is coming,” Mohammed Amin, senior vice president, Middle East, Turkey and Africa at Dell EMC, explains to Arabian Business. “Anybody debating if this is coming needs to rethink his way.”
Amin projects that 85 percent of jobs available in the market a decade from now are unknown to us today. What is apparent, he says, is that robots will be doing much of the work.
Market share is telling us that we have one of the best technical products in the world
“Robots will do so many things for us and relieve us to start doing what god created us for, which is to be more innovative,” Amin explains. “The job market is not going to be reduced – it’s going to change. So if you have a friend going to university right now, asking what they should study, any recommendation you give them is going to be the wrong recommendation.”
And this means businesses need to adapt quickly. Dell EMC sells data storage, cloud computing, information security, virtualisation as well as other products and services aimed at helping governments, small and medium sized enterprises and larger companies to store, manage, protect and analyse data. In the new digital environment where innovation is critical to success, Amin believes the key to remaining competitive is modernising IT infrastructure, while improving customer experiences and increasing reliability and security.
“The urgency is real,” Amin insists. “If you do not have a smart city built on a multi-cloud approach you’re going to be left behind in the new digital economy. The expectation right now is that by 2030, 30 percent of global GDP is going to be in the digital economy, which is huge, and if you need to be a part of this movement you need to start right now.”
When Dell acquired EMC in 2016 for $67bn, the massive investment was the largest ever acquisition in the technology sector, and it’s paying dividends. The International Data Corporation (IDC) cites Dell EMC’s market share for storage in the Middle East, Turkey and Africa region (META) at over 45 percent, placing the firm roughly on par with competitors.
Amin says while market share, mainly for infrastructure and storage, has reached 45 percent in the UAE, 60 percent in Saudi Arabia and 70 percent in Egypt, there’s untapped potential in Africa.
“The top five countries in this region in terms of growth are well known to be Saudi Arabia, UAE, South Africa, Egypt and Turkey to some extent,” says Amin. “But there’s much promise in Africa. In the longer view you have the rest of emerging Africa. I believe a lot in Africa as a continent in the next five to seven years. They’re going to double their GDP and build new infrastructure and that’s how we’ll build a bigger role.”
Saudi Arabia and Egypt are on the fast-track to follow in the footsteps of the UAE
And with this rapidly evolving technological landscape, it’s perhaps no surprise that nearly half of the biggest companies in the region are unsure of how exactly they’ll make profit selling their products and services in the near term.
“More than 47 percent of the large corporations in this part of the world don’t know how their business model will look in the next three years,” Amin cautions. “Some of them are confused and don’t have a strategy yet. Some of them don’t believe the world is changing.”
But Amin says there’s now a greater acceptance among businesses of the need to start the digital transformation, with 5 percent already digitally transformed and 50 percent having a digital strategy. And he says Dell EMC is eager to facilitate this change.
“In META region we have the right qualified resources to talk about the customer’s business and how we’re going to help their top line and their bottom line and get a great return of investment for investors,” Amin assures.
“We believe we have a unique product and market share is telling us that we have one of the best technical products in the world.”
The digital transformation extends beyond businesses to the next generation of government. Regionally, Amin says the UAE is ahead of its counterparts as far as infrastructure and the adoption of new technologies are concerned. Its AI strategy for 2031 will see the UAE invest in technologies to enhance government performance and efficiency across industries including education, energy, space, technology and transport.
Several futuristic plans have already come to fruition, such as Dubai International Airport’s face-scanning tunnel, which is expected to replace immigration officers as early as next year. The tunnel uses face recognition technology to identify passengers and allows them to complete immigration procedures in just 15 seconds.
“I don’t show my passport anymore, I don’t use the e-gate, I just walk through, which is amazing,” Amin marvels. “I believe Saudi Arabia and Egypt are on the fast-track to follow in the footsteps of the UAE and South Africa is mature already. As a matter of fact, the largest percentage of GDP spending on IT and technology is in South Africa.”
While the UAE’s advancements are extraordinary, other META region countries aren’t far behind as many of them have their own digital transformation plans. Saudi Arabia for example, has its 2030 plan in which digital transformation is a key pillar, and similar goals extend throughout the region.
“If you look at Egypt they have the same plan for 2030,” Amin asserts. “If you look at Morocco and Africa and South Africa, every country does have its plan right now. I believe the UAE is a little ahead but the others are catching up on the fast track.”
A key part of any digital transformation journey is its use of cloud technology.
Businesses and governments require the on demand availability of resources, particularly data storage and computing power, without the inefficiency of direct active management.
“For a country, a city or an enterprise customer, you cannot continue doing the infrastructure the same classical way by building a data centre and having infrastructure,” Amin explains. “You really need to have the cloud to start offering new services to your customers or your citizens and to take the digital transformation because everything is going to be digitally transformed even in our personal lives.”
Opting for either private or public clouds is no longer an option as governments progress with their cloud plans. Amin refers to a two-year-old debate where some experts claimed public cloud is taking over, before citing statistics that 23 percent of those customers who moved completely to public clouds are backtracking.
“I believe that going forward there’s no choice but to have a multi-cloud approach which means some of your workload is going to be in public clouds and some is going to be in your private cloud,” Amin explains. “It depends on the information and your service level agreement (SLA) and how secure you need your information to be.”
Virtualisation is the first major challenge in a digital transformation and accounts for 30 percent of any cloud journey, Amin says. This all-encompassing process includes virtualising computer hardware platforms, storage devices and computer network resources.
“Having 86 percent market share in virtualisation globally gives you the idea that we’re well on our way to doing this in this region,” Amin boasts.
Then, there’s fifth generation wireless or 5G technology, the latest iteration of cellular technology, which will massively increase the speed and responsiveness of wireless networks. Amin says 5G is going to change the face of the world, not only in terms of download speeds but insomuch as the way in which it reacts to instructions.
“In healthcare, in a few years you’re going to have a remote professor using a robot from the United States to Dubai and with 5G when the robot’s cutting he’s going to have the tissue feel of the patient,” Amin says.
From smart cities to SMEs, businesses and governments need to embrace technology to operate and create value for their customers. With this great potential comes competition, particularly from companies including IBM, Accenture and Booz Allen Hamilton in this region. But Amin says Dell EMC has an advantage, as it comprehensively understands clients’ needs.
“What differentiates us in META from the competition is we do not talk about our solutions and products because customers don’t care if Dell technologies have the best products: customers care about their business,” Amin insists. “That’s what we do differently.”
Worldwide IT spending is projected to total $3.76 trillion in 2019, an increase of 3.2 percent from 2018, according to the latest forecast by global research and advisory firm Gartner.
“Despite uncertainty fuelled by recession rumors, Brexit, and trade wars and tariffs, the likely scenario for IT spending in 2019 is growth,” said John-David Lovelock, research vice president at Gartner.
“However, there are a lot of dynamic changes happening in regards to which segments will be driving growth in the future. Spending is moving from saturated segments such as mobile phones, PCs and on-premises data centre infrastructure to cloud services and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. IoT devices, in particular, are starting to pick up the slack from devices. Where the devices segment is saturated, IoT is not.
“IT is no longer just a platform that enables organisations to run their business on. It is becoming the engine that moves the business,” Lovelock added. “As digital business and digital business ecosystems move forward, IT will be the thing that binds the business together.”
With the shift to cloud, a key driver of IT spending, enterprise software will continue to exhibit strong growth, with worldwide software spending projected to grow 8.5 percent in 2019. It will grow another 8.2 percent in 2020 to total $466bn. Organisations are forecasting a rise in spending on enterprise application software in 2019.