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Skills gap? technology itself can solve it

As the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) sets in, there are certain concerns that need to be addressed. However, the solutions also lie in itself: using technology to alleviate these issues and contribute to society in a growth-oriented way.

One of these concerns is the skills gap – the gap between what employers want or need their employees to be able to do, and what those employees can actually do, as defined by Forbes.

Necip Ozyucel, cloud and enterprise group lead at Microsoft Gulf, told at the recent Gitex Technology Week 2018 that it is difficult to quantify the skills gap: he cited the World Economic Forum’s ‘Future of Jobs’ report, which examined the impact of the 4IR on our children’s careers.

“One prediction from that report, which has almost become a meme, is that two in three children starting school this year will be working in professional roles that have yet to be created,” he points out.

To narrow this, there are certain steps that must be taken.

“The key here is to recognise what imminent future events might catalyse change,” he stressed.

For example, he says, an upsurge in demand for cloud services can prompt firms to building data centres – Microsoft has one each in Dubai and Abu Dhabi – which will create jobs not just for tech professionals.

The World Bank says that for each technology job created, around 4.3 jobs are generated across occupations and income groups. And research conducted by the International Data Corporation shows that cloud computing and the Microsoft ecosystem set to create more than 520,000 jobs across the MEA between 2017 and 2022. If we take the World Bank figure – times 4.3 – in perspective, this could mean over two million jobs in the MEA in just over five years.

Education is also key to bring down this gap: using technology: “Reinventing the classroom. and other professional courses allow anyone, at any age, to skill, reskill and upskill as needed – in the cloud, AI and many other sought-after areas,” Ozyucel says.

‘Invest in employees’ happiness’

A happy employee equals a happy customer is a tried and tested formula that costs companies almost nothing to implement, yet reaps several rewards, experts at the 2018 Customer Happiness Summit and Awards said.

Speaking at the inaugural edition of the event, experts from various industries spoke about the importance of keeping a company’s employees happy.

“As hoteliers, we are in the process of making people happy, and that starts with making our associates happy; their happiness then translates to our hotel guests,” said Olivier Harnisch, CEO of Emaar Hospitality Group.

Harnisch noted that the subject of happiness is complex and simple at the same time – the complexity lies in the fact that happiness is not a hard science; what makes one person happy does not necessarily make another person happy. Happiness is also time bound; an individual might be happy in the morning, and then sad in the afternoon. Recognising the timeliness of the situation is important before looking for ways to make guests happy.

“The easy part of the equation is that all we need to do to make people happy is to hire the right people for the job,” he said. “We hire people that are passionate about making others happy. Today, it’s not about the standardisation of guest experiences anymore; it’s all about personalisation, and for this you need the warmth of a human touch. If you look at the reviews on the top travel and hotel websites, then over 70 per cent of them will say that their stay was memorable because of the staff, and they will often mention the staff by name.”

Dr Mansoor Habib, senior director of Employee Wellness & Happiness at du, noted that creating a happy ecosystem at work is important.

“One of our main areas of focus is on the health of the employee,” he said. “Healthy employees are able to focus on their jobs better. Passion is also very important, because passionate employees want to do more and deliver their very best. At du, we also have lots of activities for our employees to participate in such as photography and sports. If people have a hobby then we encourage them to work on it because we know that it makes them happy. It makes them feel valued and you will have better retention.” Habib also noted that it was important to allow employees the freedom to express their emotions. “At the end of the day, we are humans. You cant have employees smiling all day because they will have ups and downs.”

“Employee happiness plays a vital role in our industry, because we are in the process of delivering dreams,” said Vagelyn Tumbaga Federico, director of HR at Dusit Thani. “We deal with the emotions of people. If our employees are happy, then they are more innovative, more productive, and more efficient. Our employees are our first customer, and their positive emotions impact the whole company.”

5G to pave way for cloud

The tech wave in the UAE has engulfed all key sectors of the economy and IT experts have given the thumbs-up to uptake of cloud technology as more and more global players set up shops in the country.

Fadi Hani, vice-president for the MEA and Turkey at Avaya, said: “We’re very confident that the overall consumption of cloud-based technologies will continue to climb with the anticipated roll-out of 5G networks in the UAE. But more than that, the roll-out of 5G will completely revolutionise the way in which applications are consumed, unleashing a whole new wave of creativity in the development of these applications.”

Enterprises of all sizes are also taking note of how the cloud is enabling digital communications apps, which are rapidly diversifying as things stand today. Organisations are seeking simplified platforms through which they can manage all of their communications tools for internal or external audiences.

Rajesh Ganesan, vice-president at ManageEngine, said: “The cloud is no longer just a ‘market’, but is becoming one of the fundamental enablers of business. The need for businesses to be nimble, scale fast and graceful, respond to disruptions, deliver on high user experience standards and yet achieve and surpass business goals means technology becomes a strong underpinning. This includes capabilities like big data, IoT, artificial intelligence, machine learning, collaboration and integration among services which are crucial to digitally transform the way businesses operate today.”

Meanwhile, Canon Middle East announced the findings of its Office Insights 2018 research, which reveals that Middle East businesses are rapidly investing in cloud and mobile solutions at a rate far surpassing other Emea markets.

 

With a focus on the evolution of the digital workplace and addressing the business challenges identified in the research report, the company demonstrated its solutions and services designed to drive digital transformation at Gitex Technology Week 2018.

Ayman Aly, senior marketing manager at Canon Middle East, said: “Many businesses are still cautious about integrating mobile and cloud technology into the office landscape. Our aim is to continue providing support and education to our customers and business partners in the Middle East, to ensure that they are able to reach their full potential, no matter the size or nature of their industry.”

The report states that 83 per cent of Middle East respondents voted cloud-based document access as important or critical and 67 per cent are already using cloud solutions on a daily basis. Around 93 per cent of respondents use an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to efficiently manage information flow across different departments or sites.

Yasser Zeineldin, CEO of eHosting DataFort, said: “Cloud adoption is shaping the way businesses in the UAE are moving towards their core objectives. Added to this is the fact that enterprises are consciously leveraging Cloud scenarios to optimise their application workloads. They are focused on being able to gain from the unique capabilities that the different Clouds offer and to optimise costs. Cloud adoption amongst businesses is expected to increase exponentially over the next few years. The adoption of cloud services in the UAE is providing added avenues for organisations to adhere to data protection regulations and being able to maintain regulatory compliance with service providers consciously adding value to their services by attaining relevant certifications.”

Smart Dubai objectives closer than ever before

The fierce tech lady of Dubai, Dr Aisha bint Butti bin Bishr, director-general of Smart Dubai Office, affirmed that beginning 2019, the nation would witness the implementation of major technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, blockchain, IoT and big data in most government entities.

“Our focus in the first half of 2019 is to accelerate all projects that will involve linking the seven emirates and federal entities. We will see the implementation of M-government in full swing. The purpose of a smart city is to create and offer services which are mobile and reduce any physical visits to centres or offices,” added Dr Bishr.

Smart Dubai, in partnership with the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA), inaugurated UAEPASS, a national digital identity and signature solution for all citizens, residents and visitors, in collaboration with Abu Dhabi’s Smart Solutions & Services Authority and the Dubai Electronic Security Centre as strategic partner providing the underlying digital certificates to safeguard the UAEPASS, as well as DarkMatter Group.

The UAEPASS provides a single digital identity that allows the user to access services for both local and federal government entities, in addition to other service providers. The solution introduces mobile-based authentication to users who can validate their identity using their smartphone. It also allows users to digitally sign and validate documents in order to minimise visits to service centres to sign important and time-sensitive documents.

Dr Bishr added: “Post UAEPASS, we will now focus on a paperless society and Dubai Pulse which is the backbone of the Dubai economy.”

The Smart Dubai office and du have built a multi-purpose Dubai Pulse that will serve as the central platform providing computing and storage services, core analytic services as well as Big Data services, for use of various entities in the UAE. Such data will be utilised to enhance the way of living of all UAE citizens and residents and promote the vision of making Dubai the smartest and happiest city on Earth.

No job threat, AI to redefine roles

It is believed that new age technologies will make a lot of jobs redundant and create joblessness. However, technology experts and industry executives believe that’s not true when it comes to Artificial Intelligence (AI).

They believe that Artificial Intelligence will create more alternative jobs especially in the data collection and management side such as data scientists, AI software developers, data and AI solution sales executives, data detectives, AI business development managers, machine-learning analysts, AI-assisted healthcare technicians among others. In addition, people will need to upgrade their skills and knowledge in line with new age technologies which will create jobs in the education sector.

“AI is similar to Internet which transformed the way people work these days. AI might let get few jobs but will create much more new jobs. People are now-a-days multi-learners and multi-discipliners rather than being specific to one subject. Things are moving in a fast way, so they’re putting pressure on universities too to educate students that are ready to take on new age technologies such as AI,” said Marwan Abdulaziz Janahi, managing director, Dubai Science Park.

James Petter, vice-president for EMEA, Pure Storage, said the primary value of AI is around automation and it helps reduce the cost of businesses. “In my opinion, the ‘robots are going to automate us out of jobs’ story is over-played. In fact, according to a survey conducted by MIT Technology Review and commissioned by Pure Storage, 85 per cent of respondents in Middle East and Africa believe that there will always be a need for humans to interpret the data,” Petter said. While AI will automate several routine tasks, he noted that there will always be a need for humans to interpret the data. This creates a whole new demand for what the industry now calls ‘data scientists’. In addition, AI will free up workers to think more creatively about the business challenges they face and reduce rote tasks so workers can turn their focus to innovation and become more creative on strategic projects, Petter added.

Sunil Suresh, chief marketing and strategy officer, Capillary Technologies, said Artificial Intelligence will eliminate tasks but not jobs.

Zoho opens regional headquarters in Dubai

Zoho, provider of cloud-based business applications, has opened an office in Dubai to take care of its regional operations. It is working closely with local partners to reinforce its relationship with customers here and hiring more partners in the country to further expand its reach, while also participating in and organising more events.

“The opening of the Dubai office is part of our commitment to expand in the region,” said Hyther Nizam, VP of Product Management, Zoho Corp. “We are localising all our products to suit the regional needs and making them available in dirham to simplify the payment. We are also translating thousands of pages on our website to Arabic for better serving the local business community.”

Zoho also announced updates to its all-in-one suite, Zoho One, which was launched in UAE earlier this year. Company’s customer relationship management solution Zoho CRM, accounting application Zoho Books that helps companies file their VAT, business process automation software Zoho Creator and human resource management software Zoho People, which are the best-selling products in the country, are among the 40 applications that comprise the Zoho One suite.

Now, Zoho One is enabling a new set of capabilities that bridge the gap between different departments and roles within an organisation: Zia-Zoho’s AI-will soon respond to user queries by combining information from multiple apps; Zoho One’s new Analytics delivers a deeper, more contextual picture of business operations by blending data from apps across the suite; and a new unified Search feature can execute across multiple applications, bringing back richer results that significantly reduce the time and effort needed to find the right data.

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