What to Expect at Gitex this Year
The annual Gitex Technology Week at the Dubai World Trade Center reflects the region’s mounting emphasis on Digital Transformation
Technology has become the buzzword in the Middle East in recent years, and with governments taking the lead in adopting new technologies, the sector is seeing unprecedented growth.
One of the biggest events highlighting the sector’s growth in the region is the annual Gitex Technology Week, which will take place this year from 8-12 October at the Dubai World Trade Centre under the theme ‘re-imagining realities: discover, transform and innovate’.
Organisers expect more than 4,000 exhibitors and 100,000 visitors to attend the event this year from across the retail, finance, healthcare and public sectors.
“The 37th Gitex Technology Week will be the most global edition of the event to date and feature new and expanded show features – with a key focus on how converging technology innovations, from artificial intelligence, AI, robotics, blockchain and AR/VR, can solve problems in our daily lives and transform businesses around the world,” says Trixie LohMirmand, S-VP, Dubai World Trade Centre.
Some of the features this year include Gitex Global Sourcing – a platform that will connect solution providers and vendors to buyers with sourcing needs and a new Global Smart Cities Hall that will feature 150 public sector organisations from around the world.
Overall, the event will showcase 17 specialist technologies driving digital transformation, including blockchain, artificial intelligence, drones, robotics, 3D printing and the Internet of Things.
These technologies will be featured in solution demos by exhibitors and
start-ups, and will also be a major focus of conference speakers during Gitex Power Conferences.
Smart Cities, public sector innovation, and connected manufacturing and transportation will also be key highlights during the conferences.
Cyber security focus
One of the Key areas of the digital transformation has been cyber security, and for good reason. Nearly 45.2-M data records in the Middle East were lost or stolen in Y 2016, according to a report by digital security firm Gemalto.
A report by Kaspersky Labs also found that 27% of businesses have experienced targeted attacks during the past year, with some malware staying undiscovered within corporate infrastructure for months.
“Hidden attacks are spreading in the network due to security teams often being overwhelmed when manually processing the sheer number of alerts generated by modern security solutions, while the most crucial incident indicators get lost in the noise,” according to Kaspersky.
Even if an alert is noticed, strong threat analysis skills such as reverse engineering, malware analysis and digital forensics are needed – which are not always available.
“As a result, slow response time and a lack of visibility over endpoints are severely impacting organisations and contributing to the costs associated with recovering from a targeted attack, which can reach up to $977,000,” the report stated.
At Gitex this year, the company is launching a pilot programme for an ‘endpoint detection and response’ (EDR) solution to offer companies better detections and automated remedies.
“Today, information security has become an executive board priority, being one of the top business risks for every enterprise,” said Nikita Shvetsov, CTO at Kaspersky Lab.
“Companies are getting trapped by adopting a reactive security approach which makes malefactors’ job easier. For this to be changed, EDR solutions should become an imperative for any modern enterprise security strategy.”
SMEs take centre-stage
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) comprise the majority of organisations in the region – accounting for more than 94 per cent of the companies and about 86 per cent of the workforce in the UAE alone.
Not surprisingly, they also make up the majority of participants and exhibitors at Gitex, with organizers also seeing a 65% increase in start-up participation this year compared to the Y 2016 Edition.
Start-ups will be centre-stage at the Gitex Future Stars exhibition, which takes place alongside the main exhibition.
The event – now in its 2nd year – is set to host over 700 entrepreneurs from across 75 countries to showcase ideas and engage with 250 investors and venture capitalists.
Ideas will be showcased in sectors such as AR, VR, gaming, education, fintech, healthcare, IoT, robotics, smart cities, transport and logistics, and travel and tourism.
Gitex Future Stars will also feature a series of competitions offering a total value of over Dhs1m ($272,300) in prizes for start-ups, from pitch contests offering $180,000 in prize money to competitions in partnership with Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), Visa and Alibaba.
Potential for growth
The last few years have been challenging for the GCC region, as low prices have weighed on state revenues and led to an overall slowdown in the economy.
However, the region has continued its focus on digital transformation with countries like the UAE taking the lead.
By Y 2019, projections estimate that the Middle East and Africa will have the world’s highest cloud traffic growth rate, at 41%. A report released by McKinsey during Gitex last year also estimated that the digital market could add $95-B per year to the Middle East’s annual GDP by Y 2020.
“Regional and global economic developments have led to transformation and new priorities in technology. Massive investments in innovations have led to breakthrough technologies that allow businesses to do more,” explains LohMirmand.
“One of the biggest drivers of the region’s technology market is that global technology innovations are increasingly coming from the Middle East first, rather than the Middle East adopting innovations from Europe or North America, for example.
“Smart solutions, increased connectivity, IoT and cutting-edge technology solutions are the priority in the current market,” she added.
With the region’s public sector entities and private businesses allocating time and resources towards the digitisation of products and services, it certainly looks like the next era of technological evolution is not too far away.
By Aarti Nagraj
Paul Ebeling, Editor