DWTC launches GITEX Technology Week 2012
Cloud, BYOD and cyber threats take centre stage this year
Following the announced record-breaking sales and footfall at GITEX Shopper 2012, its B2B sister event GITEX Technology Week opens on Sunday, featuring more than 3,500 technology companies from 144 countries across five continents.
Now in its 32nd year, GITEX Technology Week, running under the theme of "Where Technology Means Business", is now widely recognised as one of the world's top three ICT events.
"Over its successful 32 years, GITEX Technology Week has been a catalyst and influence in growing technology tourism and strengthening trade ties with Africa as the continent experiences an ICT boom," said Helal Saeed Almarri, chief executive officer, Dubai World Trade Centre, as he launched Technology Week alongside GITEX partners Dell, HP and Symantec.
"It's growing international impact has also led to the strategic co-location of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Telecom World 2012, the leading platform for high-level networking, strategic debate and knowledge-sharing for the global ICT community, which will take place for the first time in Dubai alongside GITEX Technology Week."
ICT spend in the MEA region continues to grow at a rate that outpaces other markets. While Forrester Research demonstrated 2012 European growth is set to reach only 1.2%, separate IDC data suggests the Middle East and Africa will see 12% growth in the same period, taking MEA outlay to $65bn. Further surveys by Booz & Company indicate a swell of the Middle East ICT sector to $173bn by 2015, which would represent 7.5% of GDP.
Reasons for the MEA technology success story range from the rebuilding of infrastructure following last year's Arab Spring to the aggressive launching of e-Learning projects by Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Other factors include cloud migration trends and smartphone penetration; according to a Google survey in May, the UAE and Saudi Arabia sit at the top of the global smartphone penetration table with 62% and 60% respectively, while the US shows a mere 44%.
And businesses are taking notice, not just of the general growth trends of the MEA market, but of the growing influence of GITEX itself. Technology Week is no longer the exclusive domain of CIOs and technology professionals.
"We are seeing not only CIO technology leaders [in attendance at GITEX]; we are seeing business leaders and business decision-makers, so this is a very good reason for us to expand our presence," said Eyad Shihabi, managing director, HP Middle East.
The major focuses of participants at GITEX Technology Week will follow these trends. Cloud computing, mobility and the associated issue of "bring your own device" (BYOD) will all be covered by companies and speakers.
"We have more than 700 installations of private and public clouds worldwide today," said Shihabi. "The biggest problem companies face with cloud is that they understand what the technology is, but they don't know how to adopt it."
Security will certainly be a hot topic, given the recent wave of cyber exploits directed against high-profile enterprises, such as Qatar's RasGas and Al Jazeera news network and Saudi Arabia's Aramco.
"How can [customers] protect themselves?" said Shihabi. "We have seen studies [that show] it takes an average of 24 days to fix a cyber attack and that these attacks are on the increase."
But much of the security discussion will focus on small to medium businesses, which are GDP drivers for most economies, whether they be developed or emerging.
"It is easy to focus on the large enterprises, but SMBs, which comprise about 90% of businesses in the UAE by volume, are the enterprises of tomorrow," said Justin Doo security practice director for emerging markets, Symantec.
"[These companies] are being targeted because they are vectors into some of the larger enterprises. Something like 17% of SMBs have been targeted by cyber criminals over the past 12 months according to surveys we have recently run. Some 71% of those companies never recover."
Another key theme will be big data, which will be discussed against a backdrop of global data centre investment growth.
"We want to help customers unleash the power in the information they have," said Shihabi.
DWTC estimates that around 1,000 launches will be staged at GITEX Technology Week 2012. Among these will be the partnership between hip hop megastar 50 Cent and UAE-based Shift LLC. The rapper is scheduled to appear at GITEX for the Middle East launch of his SMS Audio headphones. Also among the high-profile launches is Microsoft's preview of Windows 8, which is slated for general release on October 26.
Over 80% of global tech brands are expected to participate in the technology show representing ICT budgets of over $50bn. Confirmed attendees include Cisco, Dell, Du, Etisalat, Facebook, Google, Hewlett Packard, Huawei, Kaspersky, Microsoft, Nokia, Oracle, RIM, Samsung, SAP and Symantec. Notable new exhibitors include Chinese telecommunications equipment company ZTE, Saudi Telecom Company, Sage, Vocalcom and African IT distributors Mitsumi.
"70% of exhibiting companies at GITEX are from abroad," said Almarri. "Hence this year GITEX will showcase an international zone consisting of 40 country groups bringing an extensive selection of ICT offerings to the doorstep of this fast-growing market."
Africa in Focus is a new feature at this year's Technology Week, aiming to highlight the continent's rampant economic growth. GITEX has seen a 23% increase in exhibitors from African countries including Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa. Strong trade delegations are expected from countries like Zambia, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, Lesotho, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.
GITEX has traditionally been about reach, whether it be to markets, partners or customer groups. Partners and participants talk in terms of solution offerings and the opportunities to reach markets quickly through the exposure offered by Dubai World Trade Centre's technology expo.
"GITEX is the ideal platform for Symantec, as the world's largest ICT security company, to bring availability technology, storage technology, backup and security [to customers in the region]," said Doo.
"We support a $60bn business with over 100,000 employees and we see exactly the same challenges that our customers see every single day," Dave Brooke general manager Middle East, Dell.
"It's about management of environments, it's about the interoperability of environments and it's about IT infrastructure and solutions enabling those businesses."
But profit is king. Companies taking space at the expo have an eye on more than just exposure. The growth in GITEX's worldwide profile has been possible, argue some, because of a noticeable bump in the all-important bottom line of its delegates.
"Investing in GITEX is not about ego," said Doo. "Companies like Symantec, Dell and HP measure these events intrinsically. They look at business return for the organisation, not just brand return."