Middle East IT industry showing global class
The winners of the 2013 ACN Arab Technology Awards show that the region is capable of IT projects to match any worldwide
We feature the winners of our 2013 ACN Arab Technology Awards. I am always surprised and impressed by the nominations for the ACN awards, and this year was no exception.
In fact, the scope and strength of the work being done in IT in the region, which was reflected in the nominations, was an eye opener. At the start of this year, I was writing about the third platform — IDC’s vision of the convergence of Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud. Between now and 2020, the company predicts that between 80% and 90% of all IT industry growth will be driven by this Third Platform.
It is a vision that combines four distinct areas of technology, all of which bring their own strengths and benefits, and are already impacting on organisations today, but it is also a vision of how these technologies can interact together, to become more than the sum of their parts, and to create solutions that will have an impact across all sectors.
While some of the component technologies have been present in some way or other for a while in the region, it did seem that the Middle East was fairly far off having started on the journey to the third platform era. The award nominations, and many of the winners, however, showed just how has already been achieved in these fields.
Cloud computing, in its many different forms, has become an essential part of many IT projects. Private cloud is becoming common, particularly among governments and national-level organisations, as they look to meet the computing needs of thousands of users in the most efficient and flexible way possible. Public cloud is emerging, both in niche services for specific verticals, and from major providers such as Google and Microsoft, who are bringing cloud service benefits to organisations both large and small.
In the field of business intelligence and analytics, organisations are looking to new and more powerful ways to leverage the benefits of their business data. Data warehousing and business intelligence dashboards have become fairly common tools for decision makers, but as technologies such as in-memory computing increase the ability to analyse larger data sets more quickly, the new age of ‘big data’ is offering unprecedented levels of insight and intelligence.
Mobile devices are ubiquitous in the region, but the potential of this sector, as it diversifies into tablets, smart watches and other hardware, is only just emerging. Software vendors are putting a lot of work into making their applications mobile-ready, so that workers can stay connected to essential data while on the go. The mobility sector is also looking to emerging technology such as wearable computing and near field communication, and the changes these technologies can make to how people interact with their environment.
Even social technology is evolving beyond platforms like Facebook and Twitter — which have become essential for marketing and customer relations — with business technologies adopting ‘social’ methods and styles of sharing and commenting, to change how people collaborate and communicate at work, and organisations are also using big data to mine the vast amounts of social media postings for real and actionable intelligence on their customers.
The winners of the awards provide some great examples of how the Middle East is moving into the era of the third platform, and they also demonstrate how many of the projects in the region can lay claim to being on a par with any other advanced projects found around the world today.