Here-under is a very brief introduction of the most prominent emerging technologies, their current penetration and future potential in the Kingdom
There are giants playing in this field in Saudi already. For example, GE is big on Industrial IOT with their analytics platform (Predix) and sensors for healthcare machines. They are claiming their analytics can be used by other industries as well. In August 2018, global GE experts, in collaboration with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), GE Digital, and Obeikan Digital Solutions organized an advanced training boot camp in Predix, GE’s application platform for the Industrial Internet of Things in Dammam. More than 35 women were among 60 young Saudis who participated in the training
A young engineer, Abdul Sathar Sait, while working at Amazon Web Services, patented a technique where a drone would gather information from hundreds of sensors in an oil and gas facility, spread over difficult terrain, and dump all the data collected to a cloud-based system. Similar IOT use cases can be applied to the vast oil and gas installations in the Kingdom.
Blockchain technology is in a constant state of flux. There are public blockchains and there are private blockchains. Presently there seem to be no use cases of the public blockchains in the Kingdom. Companies are building solutions with private blockchains. A famous variant of a private blockchain is IBMs Hyper-Ledger Fabric. Dubai, on the other hand, launched a city-wide blockchain strategy in October 2016 with the objective of becoming the ﬁrst blockchain powered city by 2020. Dubai has opened the door to blockchain technical partners from around the world to come to Dubai and pilot use cases in each entity. A telecom provider in Saudi Arabia had piloted a project to allow people to donate money to charities and track how the money was being used by the recipient organization using the public blockchain.
However, there is still some scepticism regarding Blockchain entering the growth phase in the near future. A McKinsey articles dated June 2018 states that,” Despite the hype, blockchain is still an immature technology, with a market that is still nascent and a clear recipe for success that has not yet emerged”. Check out this this very interesting podcast on “What Blockchain is and Isn’t”
Machine Learning /Big Data:
This is an awesome field. Some analysts say that’s where most value can be generated. So many industries have so many relevant use cases abound. One analyst, who spend time in the Kingdom as a strategy manager for a leading IT services company says, that’s where Saudi is going to seriously lack capability”. He has shared some use cases of this technology. The following is a brief summary of the said use cases
- Customer Churn Analytics (why customers, for instance, drop off or don’t come back for more)
- Fraud Detection ( discover potential fraudulent behavior before it happens)
- Demand Forecast (Demand forecasting is the use of complex algorithms acting on datasets to forecast product or service demand)
- Spatial Analytics (For example, shopping destinations use touch-screen kiosks that recognize your current location and, when prompted, provide the most expedient route to a retail destination based on variable & conditional factors).
- Predictive Maintenance (Using machine data to determine the most efficient time to perform maintenance, rather than traditional time-based approach)
AI and Robotics
We are all aware that Crown Prince, Mohamad bin Salman, has taken a personal interest in Artificial Intelligence (AI). Speaking at the Future Investment Initiative in the capital, Riyadh, in October 2017, he explained his vision for a new planned city, NEOM: “Everything will have a link to artificial intelligence, to the internet of things”.
In its 2017 global study, a global consulting firm, PwC, estimated that AI could contribute US$135bn or 12.4% to Saudi GDP by 2030. PwC sees retail and the public sector (including healthcare and education) as particularly ripe for transformation by AI.
Additionally, Bill McDermott, the CEO of a Germany-based software firm, SAP, said on a visit to Saudi Arabia in February 2018 that he perceives that “artificial intelligence is central to Saudi Vision 2030”.
The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) is also innovating in robotics. It has designed OceanOne, an underwater humanoid robot avatar in collaboration with Oussama Khatib, professor of computer science and director of the Robotics Laboratory at Stanford University, to help monitor coral reefs in the Red Sea. OceanOne combines robotics, artificial intelligence and haptic feedback in a way existing underwater robots do not.
AI is more than just self-driving cars and Alexa. Hitherto unthought of applications using AI are emerging and the future looks bright, and somewhat awesome, too.
This technology has been around from quite some time, and its benefits are now all too well-known. However, many organizations have not yet moved their data and computing to the Cloud, primarily, because of a lack of a trusted partner to hand-hold them in the migration. In the recent past, STC and Mobily have set up huge data centers and have also begun offering a wide range of services to bring customers on board. The total cloud computing business in the Gulf alone is projected to be US$20 billion in the next three years. The existing players have just about begun to scratch the surface. You can read a somewhat exhaustive article on “Offering Cloud Computing Services in KSA: Opportunities and Challenges” available online.
In July 2018, GE and Microsoft Corp. announced an expanded partnership, as part of which GE Digital will standardize its Predix solutions on Microsoft Azure Cloud and will integrate the Predix portfolio with Azure’s native cloud capabilities, including Azure IoT and Azure Data and Analytics. This is an example of how emerging technologies synergize with each other for market penetration
Google, IBM and Intel are among the very few who are racing to create the next generation of supercomputers, called Quantum computers. Whenever these computers get started, they will help us solve problems that our existing computers can’t even scratch the surface of.
This is going to be a big game-changer. But, as of 2018, the development of actual quantum computers is still in its infancy. Both practical and theoretical research continues, and many national governments and military agencies are funding quantum computing research. IBM unveiled its first ever quantum computer designed for commercial use, the sleek-looking IBM Q System One, in January 2019. The company says it has no plans to sell the device, but will instead allow customers to perform quantum calculations over the internet.
Researchers hope they’ll be able to use quantum computing to design entirely new molecules for use in medicine. The Saudi government will welcome this technology for use in various fields especially in cryptography and military applications
XR, or Extended Reality, can be understood through this infographic from Raconteur, which not only explains what XR is, but also illustrates the growth of XR technology, and its potential to transform business across industries.
Additionally, this mind-blowing video from Accenture which demonstrates the power of merging of virtual, augmented, and mixed reality is the best way to understand what Extended Reality is, for, after all, XR is meant to do away with mere text and graphics to illustrate a point. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) when used to together is called Mixed Reality (MR). Extended Reality (XR) is a term used for VR, AR, and MR, and any such technology the future brings in. Just for fun, try out the IKEA Augmented Reality app called Place, to understand one more application of AR.
Here in Saudi Arabia, one of the early adopters of AR is Abdul Latif Jamil which has released the new Toyota Saudi Select mobile app for iOS and Android. The app offers a new and innovative shopping experience that allows users to discover the specs of Toyota vehicles and view them on a virtual car in 3D using Augmented Reality (AR). Another local company has announced a VR Innovation Academy, named Certified Interactive App Developer (CIAD), which aims to train local students to become AR and VR professionals through a 6-8-month course, consisting of four months of study and two to four months of project based learning.
ER is expected to reach an estimated market size of more than $209 billion by 2022.