EVOTEQ is a trusted partner for digital transformation with a comprehensive ICT portfolio of services, bringing the latest and greatest in digital transformation to the Middle East.
Telecom Review managed to secure an interview with Jihad Tayara, chief executive office of Evoteq in Dubai, to discuss the latest projects the company has been working on and to get an expert’s insight into the region’s progress in terms of digital transformation.
Could you give us an overview about EVOTEQ as a company and its mission here in the UAE?
EVOTEQ is a UAE-headquartered solutions provider that champions technological innovations in a bid to become the region’s transformation catalyst. Ever since EVOTEQ opened for business, we have worked hard to enhance and expand our array of services in an industry that is at the heart of global economic development.
EVOTEQ’s enhanced platforms deliver effective, positive and sustainable digitalization of services, business performances and communities by driving the digitalization agenda through four key pillars: infrastructure services, cloud and platform services, business applications and, smart city and IoT solutions.
Bringing businesses and governments together is what we do best, offering them the latest next generation technologies, with the help of our team of leading experts. EVOTEQ has been strategically structured to implement Public-Private-Partnerships (PPP) that deliver value-driven solutions in the digitalization field, by coordinating with both governments and private entities. EVOTEQ is focused on the GCC, developing technological solutions and sustainable platforms to tackle regional challenges, and the complex issues faced by various industries such as healthcare, logistics, education, transportation and public services.
EVOTEQ’s commitment to our customers is strengthened by a carefully chosen group of partners who share the same ambition for excellence and service. Our partners are all highly regarded for their expertise, leadership in their respective fields, strategic positioning and, most importantly, their proven ability to deliver on projects.
Working closely with some of the world’s most foremost technology providers, we have already launched several powerful tools that utilize artificial intelligence, blockchain, smart technology and data that can be used for digital transformation.
In general, how have companies been approaching digital transformation in the region?
We know that our world is becoming ever more digitalized. Billions of devices are generating massive amounts of data, and the ability to capture and analyze this data to drive performance is key to success. And yet despite this knowledge, a recent report from Strategy& found that 77% of businesses associate digitalization with adoption of one specific technology, while only 37% have a digital strategy. Only three percent are at an advanced stage in their digital transformation and only one percent have a chief digital officer (CDO) or equivalent leading digital initiatives.
This tells us that executives in the GCC recognize the benefits of going digital, but think the process is simply about adopting a specific technology rather than completely transforming their business. To reimagine how we all operate in this era of AI, big data, AR and other innovations, both vision and leadership are required to drive digital transformation.
This is a big process but EVOTEQ is proud to be partnering with companies and governments on this exciting step into the future.
What are some of EVOTEQ’s most successful projects to date? And what do you think were the main factors that contributed to their success?
EVOTEQ is helping deliver seamless city-wide digital transformation programs that will aid the region’s transition into a fully-fledged digital economy.
For example, we are the strategic partner of the Sharjah Municipality Digital Transformation Project (SAPEQ), the GCC's largest municipal digitization project. EVOTEQ is transforming 500 services by automating over 650 business processes, offering 220 online digital services and integrating with over 35 entities to streamlines services and payments.
EVOTEQ also collaborated with Hamriyah Free Zone Authority (HFZA) to develop and launch Sharjah’s first blockchain platform. The platform is a state-of-the-art Waste Permit Portal, developed for applying and issuing of waste disposal permits. The platform digitizes permit applications, cutting down processing time to a few hours. It also provides periodic reports on volumes, transactions and other key data trends, and ensures that transactions are completely safe and secured, eliminating human error and tampering in the process.
In partnership with our parent company, Bee’ah, along with Microsoft and Johnson Controls, EVOTEQ has developed the first-ever artificial intelligence platform for offices in the UAE, demonstrating forward-thinking and developing innovative solutions tailored to meet business needs of the future. To be deployed at Bee’ah’s new headquarters, opening in 2020, the office of the future will embody the principles of sustainability and technology. Deploying end-to-end platform integrating systems and services, cutting-edge AI systems via multiple touchpoints will ensure user convenience and efficiency. This will include smart lobby visitor management, digital workspace, smart security, smart back-office integration intelligent concierge services and facial recognition.
At EVOTEQ, we are building the Track&Trace platform, an advanced serialization and tracing system that has linked and developed new generation technology to track and trace serialized products from the point of production to the consumer. The platform is a GS1 compliant solution to ensure global supply chain integrity and can be readily deployed across many verticals. Examples include the automotive industry for validating genuine spare parts; halal food verification; taxation of FMCG products, such as soft drinks and tobacco products; identifying luxury goods imitations; and counterfeit drugs detection to name just a few use cases. To give an idea of the platform’s scalability, by taking the pharmaceutical use case for counterfeit detection, the UAE has over 14,000 different types drugs covering 10.8 million citizens and residents, with up to 10 million transactions per day, connecting 4,700 pharmacies and 250 drug manufacturers.
Our Smart Transport initiative reimagines the future of a city’s transport management through AI and machine learning in a connected platform. We are utilizing smart cameras and sensors to track the routes of municipal and waste collection vehicles. This makes monitoring easier, faster and more efficient. An AI system evaluates driver behavior, vehicle utilization, fuel consumption and carbon emissions. It recommends better routes and conducts diagnosis for damaged vehicles and dispatch services.
If I have to say what the main factors were behind these successes, I would say that we are working with clients and partners who also fully understand the journey that they need to take. And so together we can create a roadmap that leads to this digitized, more efficient future.
What’s your stance on artificial intelligence in the UAE? How is it evolving in the industry and which sectors do you think could really use it?
It helps greatly that we have a government that understands the level of transformation that must take place. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president, prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, said very clearly: “The UAE seeks to be a major hub for developing AI techniques and legislation.”
We see this in practice with the UAE Strategy for Artificial Intelligence 2031, which is promoting investment in the latest AI technologies and tools to enhance UAE government performance and efficiency, thereby positioning the UAE as a global leader in this field. As such, we are leading the Arab region in terms of our adoption of AI technologies, and have witnessed the rise of a number of successful startups and innovative projects that utilize AI.
If we are to talk about the evolution of AI in specific industries and sectors, the big industries where it is growing, or will soon grow, are cybersecurity, DevOps and cloud hosting, where machine learning can really make a difference. Manufacturing in general can benefit massively in terms of preventative maintenance and the automatization of human tasks. We are starting to see AI being introduced in healthcare, and clearly anything that can be done to speed diagnoses and treatment is a wonderful development. Construction in general is behind the curve when it comes to new technology, but AI will soon make a huge difference to many cumbersome processes. The list could go on to include sectors as diverse as fashion and education but suffice it to say that change is coming in almost every sector imaginable.
All these trends, along with so many others, are connected to each other in some way. There is a growing environmental consciousness around the world and the hope for a better tomorrow. This belief, in conjunction with new technology, is driving the development of smart buildings and cities. There is a lot happening now in a multitude of areas, but we all have the same overarching goal: an efficient, low-emission world, with building automation being one of the elements of this movement.
Here at EVOTEQ we do our bit to drive these elements forward. We are building the region’s first “office of the future” with an integrated artificial intelligence platform at the new HQ for Bee’ah, which will be one of the smartest and greenest buildings in the world. This end-to-end platform will be a blueprint for smart and sustainable offices of the future in the UAE and in the region.
I would also add that AI can and should be used for social good. McKinsey Global Institute compiled a library of about 160 AI social-impact use cases. Taken together, they suggest that existing capabilities could contribute to tackling cases across all 17 of the UN’s sustainable-development goals, potentially helping hundreds of millions of people in both advanced and emerging countries. This includes crisis response, economic empowerment, education, environmental challenges, health and hunger, and security and justice.
And related to that point, we applaud the recent announcement by Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, minister of state for artificial intelligence, that the UAE government would adopt an integrated and dynamic model for the utilization of artificial intelligence that not only supports industry growth, but also strengthens the governance and ethics frameworks, ultimately anticipating future challenges and creating a positive change for humanity.
What do the next few years look like for digital transformation in the region?
Within the next decade, AI is expected to impact the Middle East economies to the tune of $320bn. These figures demonstrate that sweeping changes are happening right now, which will be for the benefit of everyone. But businesses have to know that change won’t be incremental, as a total rethink is required. At EVOTEQ, our core belief is that we should embrace this opportunity to rethink the future. At every level of society, there is a chance to implement new technologies that make our lives easier and more convenient. These processes will help power a booming ‘circular economy’, which will be a more sustainable method of operating, and one that serves all citizens. But this does require bold steps and leaps of imagination. Fortunately we have governments in this region who have the required vision to lead this change, so we expect to see smarter, greener cities and many more businesses that leverage the benefits of new technology to power their operations.