AEC invests in Kingdom’s ICT Capability
AEC is working extensively with government entities on ICT projects in Saudi Arabia
The development of ICT projects to help support national goals almost always involves the private sector in some ways, often through providing the technology and expertise to deploy cutting-edge solutions and to provide depth of support to aid government entities in running these projects.
Systems integrators are often an essential part of these initiatives, to provide skilled staff to build and support projects, but for Advanced Electronics Company (AEC), one of the leaders in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, its remit goes beyond just the commercial, to ensuring that the country is developing national capabilities in technology.
Formed in 1988 as an offset program company, initially focusing on aerospace and defence, the company has expanded in electronics manufacturing, industrial automation, system integration and repair and maintenance services and is now a major player in the ICT field.
Dr Ghassan Al-Shibl, President and CEO of AEC explained the company’s role in using technology for the benefit of the Kingdom: “AEC has a primary objective of transferring technology to the country and creating quality job opportunities for Saudis, in addition to working purely on a commercial basis. AEC has to be competitive, it has to be productive, and it has to have a differentiating advantage when it competes for its projects. ICT is about 50% of our activities, so it is a sizeable component of our overall strategy in the future. In that, we focus primarily on creating in-country capabilities.”
The government of Saudi Arabia has launched a number of major initiatives in recent years, Al-Shibl noted, to both improve the country’s ICT infrastructure, and to increase the amount of e-government services it offers to citizens and residents, making ICT a clear part of its development goals. These e-government initiatives have widespread support from the highest levels of government, he noted, and although some government entities are further ahead in the development of digital services, developing e-services, securing systems, automating processes and being able to monitor how they are performing is of growing importance.
“Automation has taken the front-seat in the wagon of development, and that is extremely important to how the country will be operating in the future,” Al-Shibl said.
AEC focuses in two main areas in the ICT space, infrastructure and applications. An effective and efficient infrastructure is essential if services are to be delivered without interruption. The company has developed capabilities in areas including sizing, design, implementation and deployment, and support.
Al-Shibl commented: “We are in the business of providing comprehensive solutions, as it relates to infrastructure, and we do that in partnership with international companies with the objective of trying to maximise what is being done in-country. Any such project that is related to infrastructure, there is significant value to accrued to the local economy, in terms of recycling the knowledge of the projects. It becomes an investment in the economy, rather than a cost.”
In software development, AEC has built up considerable inhouse expertise, for developing standalone applications and embedded software. The company was one of the first in the Gulf region to qualify as Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) Level 3, and it has also developed its own internal policies, procedures and processes to govern software development and to make security a top priority, including achieving the ISO 27001 security certification.