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The launch of the Arabian Business Enterprise Innovators Series, in association with UPS, aims to highlight and showcase companies and individuals across the region's business community who are embracing technological advances and becoming the key catalysts for change and innovation

Making innovation more than just a buzzword

Blockchain, cognitive technologies and digital reality are the new tech trends to keep an eye on this year, according to Deloitte’s latest annual report.

But how do companies go beyond the big buzzwords pushed out by the global consultancy firms? How do CEOs turn blue sky thinking and brainstorming into practical business advances and balance sheet boosters, especially at a time when budgets are tight, R&D needs to be delivered and closing sales is increasingly challenging?

The UAE government is actively working to answer these questions and address these dilemmas with large-scale initiatives, such as the Dubai Future Foundation, Smart Dubai, UAE Drones for Good, the One Million Arab Coders initiative and the launch of the world’s first Ministry of Artificial Intelligence, are aiming to spur innovation and push the country into the next decade, the next century and even the next planet.

Expo platform

2015 was declared the Year of Innovation but the progress did not stop in 2016 and the remit the country has set itself can be summed up in three words: Expo 2020 Dubai.

The six-month event will run from October 20, 2020 to April 20, 2021 and it has been estimated that Expo 2020 will attract 25 million visitors.

UPS is a 112-year-old organisation – only companies that are innovation-driven can exist for so long. And we are planning our next 112 years

The Dubai government is planning to spend around $40bn on major projects related to the event and 194 countries are taking part, creating what organisers claim will be “a truly international event and platform for all of humanity”.

As we approach the one-year mark to the launch of the Expo 2020, Arabian Business is launching the Enterprise Innovators Series, a new portal which will showcase a great range of innovations that are already taking place across the UAE.

“As the clock ticks down to the opening of Expo 2020, Arabian Business is keen to showcase the companies and people who are already ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ and embracing the core Expo themes of opportunity, mobility and sustainability,” says Shane McGinley, Editorial Director of Arabian Business.

“The Enterprise Innovators Series will run across print, digital and video and we are looking for companies, large and small, who have seen the rewards from taking risks, who are rethinking and disrupting traditional models and who are developing new ways of operating,” he adds.

Logistics partner

The Arabian Business Enterprise Innovators Series is being developed in association with global logistics company UPS, the official logistics partner of Expo 2020. While UPS is a company that is more than a century old, has a global remit and has more than 481,000 employees, it has always been a catalyst for change and innovation.

“It’s hard to say what the single greatest innovation has been. Being in the midst of the technology revolution, there are so many. UPS is a vast organisation so areas like alternative fuel vehicles to healthcare drones come to mind but then there’s technology improvements in how our drivers capture package / shipment details have a massive impact on customer information and satisfaction. They improve the system significantly,” says Hussein Wehbe, managing director for UPS in the Middle East.

Global scale

One of the clear examples of how a company can embrace modern technology and see a direct and tangible result is the UPS My Choice programme, which enables consumers to manage the time and location of package deliveries when they cannot be home to receive a package. Launched in 2011, the initiative now has 60 million members and in July this year was rolled out to 113 countries.

UPS Ventures collaborates with start-ups to explore new technologies and tailor them to specific needs within the global UPS logistics network

“It is difficult to assign a specific revenue number to My Choice and the related customer-facing solutions portfolio. But the technology and analytics behind it is directly responsible for much of UPS’s year-over-year revenue improvements. For 2018, UPS reported nearly $72bn in revenue, a 7.5 percent improvement over 2017 and a 16 percent improvement over 2016,” Wehbe says.

UPS has also implemented projects to improve efficiencies for its employees and to help reduce their environmental impact. The company has developed ORION (On-Road Integrated Optimisation and Navigation), which uses expansive fleet telematics and advanced algorithms to gather and calculate countless amounts of data to provide UPS drivers with optimised routes.

A reduction of just one mile per driver per day over one year can save UPS up to $50m. In total, by using ORION saves UPS about 100 million miles per year, that’s a reduction of 10 million gallons of fuel consumed. It also reduces carbon dioxide emissions by about 100,000 metric tonnes.

Future scope

UPS is also looking to help create the next great innovations of the future with its UPS Ventures project.

Established in 1997,  UPS Ventures targets companies that can help solve and address the uncertainty of what business and technology will look like two to five years from now.

“One of the biggest differences between a large corporation and a start-up is the appetite for risk. When it comes to new technologies and new methods, sometimes those risks are a little outside the comfort zones of large companies. But that’s where start-ups thrive. UPS Ventures is our way to work closely with these innovative companies that live on the bleeding edge of innovation,” says Todd Lewis, managing director of UPS Ventures.

“The UPS Ventures mission is to build collaborative relationships with early-stage companies that provide capabilities and insights that accelerate the UPS transformation. UPS Ventures collaborates with start-ups to explore new technologies and tailor them to specific needs within the global UPS logistics network,” he adds.

Arabian Business is now looking for companies who, like UPS, are embracing modern technology and are not afraid to be truly innovative. So check out our videos, stories and articles in the coming weeks and months, get involved and let us know what you, the companies you work for or the projects you most admire are doing to address and embrace the big changes taking place in the business environment today and tomorrow.

Get involved: What are you and your company doing to innovate?

The Arabian Business Enterprise Innovators Series, in association with UPS, is looking for local companies to get involved in the initiative. Our coverage will run across print, online, social media and video and we are looking for organisations to tell us about the programmes, ideas and practices they are working on and the impact and improvements they have witnessed across some of the sectors below:

Robotics and automation: The UAE has always been a hub for trade and logistics in the region. At the same time, the fast-growing e-commerce sector and the digitalisation of almost every market has had a phenomenal impact. How do the physical and digital worlds collaborate?

Drones: The flying devices have made headlines for disrupting airspace and airports, but they are slowly being incorporated as fundamental parts of the challenge to deliver goods and services to every part of the globe. How is your company embracing drones?

Healthcare: This sector was previously all about treatment and less about prevention. Healthcare professionals are now increasingly developing new devices to predict illnesses and ailments and to bring the sector out of the hospital and into the home.

Facial recognition: Speed and security are two key considerations for many companies. Technological advances such as facial recognition are providing answers to these challenges.

3D Printing: Dubai is already at the forefront of this technological journey, but beyond construction, what practical applications does this new trend offer?

Artificial Intelligence: More than just robots replacing jobs, many companies are using AI to reduce mundane work practices.

Electric vehicles: While the region has a high percentage of car usage, it has been slow to embrace electric models. What are doing to be more sustainable in their transport strategies?

Fintech: Dubai has ambitions to increasingly move to become a cashless society, especially as e-commerce grows and digital payment systems become more mainstream. What are the innovations in this highly regulated sector?

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