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Digital Transformation: Huge benefits to be got from the IoT era

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By Rabih Dabboussi, General Manager – UAE, Cisco.

With the third Internet of Things World Forum (IoTWF) being hosted in Dubai less than a month away, where industry’s leaders in public sector, private business and education will gather again to collaborate, network, partner, and build the IoT ecosystem together and where the entire IoT community can share the latest developments and emerging applications, digital transformation is going to be a key topic of focus at the IoTWF.  

The Internet of Things (IoT) is already changing the world. We are now just beginning to enter a new realm of the Internet of Everything (IoE), which will bring together things, people, process and data to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before. These connections will turn information into actions that create new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented economic opportunity for businesses, individuals, and countries.

We see the IoE era becoming a reality soon with the number of ‘things’ that are predicted to be connected - today, 15 billion things are connected, moving to 50 billion by 2020 and 500 billion by 2030. Today more than 99 per cent of things in the physical world are not connected. Imagine what is possible when we connect the unconnected! 

According to research by Cisco Consulting Services, IoE will be a $19 trillion opportunity for businesses and governments globally over the next 10 years. Cisco estimates that IoE will deliver savings, new revenue gains in employee productivity and quantifiable citizen experience benefits over the next 10 years for private and public sector organizations that connect people, processes, data and things unconnected today.

Digitization - The Way Forward
How smartly countries build, manage and operate their governments, infrastructure and businesses will be one of the biggest determinants of their people's future. Leaders are looking to improve efficiencies, reduce their spending and move with speed and agility in deploying new services.

There is tremendous potential in the Middle East to build effective, competitive and sustainable nations through digitization. Digitization will transform citizen services, health, education, and safety and security, improving citizens experience and productivity. Digitization will also transform the way industries such as Oil & Gas, banking, retail, tourism and manufacturing, to name some, operate today. This in turn will create employment opportunities and contribute to economic growth through innovation.

Today, Global Smart Cities have already reduced water consumption by 50 percent, enhanced energy savings by 30 percent, and reduced traffic by 30 percent. In Dubai, the deployment of citywide Wi-Fi is forming the backbone of smart, mobile government services, with the Dubai Smart City Executive Committee guiding public sector access to systems, collaboration tools and business insights. Likewise, smart transport such as the public transport Nol card, the Salik electronic toll gate, and driverless Dubai Metro have reduced traffic fatalities from 20 in 2005 to less than 4 in 2014, and the percentage of the population using public transport growing from 6 percent in 2005 to 12 percent in 2014, according to the Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority.

Digitization requires organizations to leverage IoE to become more hyper-aware, predictive and agile. These traits will enable them to innovate faster and achieve their desired business outcomes. To achieve success, they need to apply the digital framework across data, people and processes.

Data: Organizations need to fund data management and analytics to strive to ensure availability of high-quality, actionable, trusted, and complete data. This will include developing advanced analytics tools for predictive statistical analysis or data mining.

People: Without skilled resources it will be difficult for organizations to apply analytics-driven insights to management decision-making. Hence people are a vital part of the digitization process. Data Scientists need to work with businesses to ensure that data analytics is aligned with business objectives.

Processes: Digital Transformation requires that public and private sector organizations have an agile IT model, and the ability to rethink core processes for the digital era. Organizations need to emphasize development of governance and performance measurement capabilities, internally or externally. Governance skills are critical to ensure proper deployment of data analytics. Also create processes for information management and application development, along with information consumption.

The huge surge in mobile devices, internet connectivity along with digital services both in private as well as public sector will need massive networks and infrastructure. Embracing new security, cloud, mobile, social and analytics technologies required to digitize, takes imagination, investment and expertise. In Dubai, the deployment of citywide Wi-Fi will form the backbone of smart, mobile government services, with the Dubai Smart City Executive Committee guiding public sector access to systems, collaboration tools, and business insights.

IoE has the potential to further accelerate the Middle East region’s pace of change. While the benefits are obvious and the need to transform is mandatory, the path is not easy. Leaders must act now to address not only the technological elements required by digitization, but also those related to the organizations, governance, policies and skills.

In a digitized economy with an increased number of valuable connections, success will come not just by changing business models and innovating, but also with a change in mindset.

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