GITEX 2012:DUBAI WITNESSED TOMORROW'S TECHNOLOGY [Gulf Business (United Arab Emirates)]
(Gulf Business (United Arab Emirates) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) With multiple technology-news announcements, an estimated 1,000 launches, multi-national tie-ups, the unveiling of a much-anticipated global operating software and a celebrity visit, Gitex 2012 can be hailed a success.
The Middle East's biggest ICT event cemented its position as one of the world's leading information and communication technology gatherings, drawing in the most successful and recognisable brands from across the consumer and commercial markets.
The five day event last month was spread over 76,000 square metres and needed every centimetre of it as 3,500 companies descended on its host, Dubai's World Trade Centre, with over 130,000 visitors attending.
Trixee Loh, senior vice president at DWTC, said: "This year has been hugely encouraging in terms of the sheer volume of deals, previews, partnerships and announcements. We continue to build on our reputation as a go-to destination for global brands to unveil their latest, cutting-edge technologies, not only to the region but also the world at large."
The 'ICT business gateway' to the MENA and South Asia region was also home to discussions on the industry's most current and relevant topics.
CLOUD AND BIG DATA
As two of the technology world's most current subjects, cloud computing and big data were popular talking points.
Eyad Shihabi, managing director of HP Middle East, said cloud adoption in the region is almost matching that of adoption worldwide. "We have more than 700 public and private cloud installations worldwide and a number of those are represented in the Middle East," he said.
"Companies are starting to understand it and the reality is that they are implementing it; the biggest barrier is how they can implement it. So they are looking for partners to hand hold them through this journey."
Dell's general manager for the Middle East, Dave Brooke, agreed that interest in the region is as high as anywhere else in the world and noticed local companies are concerned they get the implementation process right.
"Organisations have to be looking or are looking at embracing cloud as part of their end-to-end technology," said Brooke. "So whether they are in implementation mode or whether they are in investigation mode, there is extensive activity right across the region.
"I think there's generally a good understanding about it. A lot of companies and customers are talking to us on how they do it and those are great opportunities for us to understand what they are looking to achieve in their business model, because ultimately the cloud is a part of the business model."
The global buzz surrounding big data did not go unnoticed at Gitex as increasing numbers of organisations across the Middle East look to unlock value from massive and exponentially growing databases.
Jean-Claude Michaca, vice president at Oracle, EMEA, addressed the Cloud Confex, where the topic was top of the agenda.
"Big Data is the next big game that will allow companies to analyse all kind of data and make business decisions based on deep analysis and not just gut feeling," he said.
"Big data is not a revolution but an evolution of the current data warehouse infrastructure that is already in place but it requires clear industry expertise to reap those benefits."
Jason Bath, director of database and technology at SAP's MENA branch, said: "Data is no longer a by-product of running a business, it is the raw materials needed to stay in business and compete effectively.
"Big Data offers massive opportunities for businesses in the MEA region, and it is encouraging that GITEX is featuring the topic so heavily and authoritatively this year."
SECURITY AND CYBER CRIME
An important aside to accumulating mass information in the cloud, web security and cyber crime in the region were another hot topic of the week.
In the last few months, major companies including Saudi Aramco, Reuters and Al Jazeera have all been targeted by cyber criminals. Justin Doo, director of security at Symantec, MENA, believes there are a number of reasons for the rise in attacks.
"There is criminal motivation that is financially driven, we call it hacktivisim. Then there is motivation driven by the social conscious, which took place during the Arab Spring, where people come together through social media and targeted specific organisations."
"These are the things being exploited, the cultural differences, the fact that we don't disclose enough in this region, we don't talk about it enough."
"Most consumers in the Middle East take IT security for granted," commented Aji Joseph, general manager at ESET's Middle Eastern office.
"We still lag behind the US and Europe, because in this region, consumers just buy [gadgets] based on recommendations; they don't update themselves with what they need to know. The majority of them don't have basic IT knowledge," he said.
"Often they only realise the problem after they run into trouble. They are not willing to spend time to educate themselves about the gadget they use."
TABLETS AND SMART PHONES
The tablet and smart phone market, arguably the most popular consumer products of the last few years, drew some big announcements from some big names during the week.
Global giant Microsoft revealed they are to launch their first ever Arabic- enabled phone by the start of November while Intel admitted they are finally jumping on the bandwagon and entering both markets.
Nassir Nauthoa, general manager of Gulf Countries at Intel, said the company will likely wait until next year before introducing its own devices.
Meanwhile Lenovo - which recently became the biggest computer provider in the world - announced they are launching their own tablets in the region before the end of the year.
Surprisingly the company didn't have its own stand at Gitex, but it was able to reveal its rapid expansion in the region including plans to launch a range of new PCs and tablet products, the world's thinnest and lightest 14-inch laptop and eventually its first smart phone, after it became the second top- selling mobile in China.
Not just a week for product launches, new international partnerships were also announced at Dubai's WTC.
Google revealed a deal between its Google Apps arm and Ajman Free Zone Authority to provide productivity and communications solutions to AFZA's 5,000 customers, while a new partnership between US networking company Cisco and Mobile Doctors will deliver non-stop medical expertise to MENA customers.
Saudi telecom giant STC stole the show though with no less than six new partnerships including tie-ups with Wikipedia, Hilton Hotels, Huawei and Ericsson.
As well as revealing plans to launch its first ever Arabic-enabled smartphone, technology giant Microsoft also showcased its new Windows 8 operating software.
With multiple screens, tablets and smartphones operating Windows 8 at its stand, Microsoft confirmed its worldwide launch date of October 26 will herald an exclusive global tour promoting the new software, culminating in a local launch in Dubai on 19 November.
Windows 8 will come with several free local applications already installed, specific to the
region where the software is bought.
The new software will work across all desktop, laptop and tablet platforms and will be available across several mobile phone devices.
US car manufacture Ford had a large presence at Gitex as it launched a new car and state-of-the-art safety technology.
The company showcased its new 2013 Taurus model though it was what it held inside that was of most interest.
Ford claims its 'biometric seat' will be able to monitor the driver's temperature levels, heart rate, respiration and other key indicators of stress.
Not only will the technology monitor the physiological condition of the driver, it will also be able to prevent incoming calls and SMS messages while the driver is at the wheel.
Possibly the most eagerly anticipated announcement saw US rapper 50 Cent arrive at Gitex and reveal his new SMS Audio brand of headphones in partnership with local distributor Shift.
The artist turned businessman revealed the headphones have been selling well since a soft launch at the end of September and announced a percentage of each sale would go to Dubai's Autism Centre.
"Dubai is the perfect springboard to launch SMS Audio, because the Emirate is famous for its pursuit of high standards in everything it does," said the rapper.
He commented that "walking through Gitex is like walking through the future."
GEMALTO set the bar high for the coolest product announcement, showcasing something called the eGO. The technology works like an NFC field, allowing users to unlock the door to their home by simply touching the handle.
SHARP gets the award for using its stand to the fullest. The entertainment system provider displayed 90-inch LED screens and although they are yet to be introduced to the local market, a source told Gulf Business they've had a lot of interest.
DUBAI TAXI CORPORATION revealed it is starting a pilot project that will see vehicles kitted out with interactive LCDs, providing passengers with access to the internet, government services and smart advertisements.
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