INNOVATION DRIVEN

Abu Dhabi 2019 | INVESTMENT | FOCUS: INDUSTRY 4.0

The transition toward fully integrated digital solutions and artificial intelligence opens a window for investors to act and collect gains as the business model restructuring advances.

As Abu Dhabi is stepping up its efforts to become a hub and the world's first open lab for experimenting and adopting technologies of the fourth industrial revolution, investors are faced with similar trends of the most advanced markets around the world. Although the country's national strategy for the fourth industrial revolution focuses on innovative education, intelligent genomic medicine, robotic healthcare, and autonomous defense vehicles technologies, every sector of Abu Dhabi's labor market is bound to witness the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) in the field of process, data, and human resources.

Many business leaders interviewed for The Business Year: Abu Dhabi 2018 are looking to incorporate new technologies into their existing model. ADNOC Group, for example, inaugurated an advanced Panorama Command Centre and AI platform to gain access to big data from its operations and performance; NETAQ E-Solutions launched an innovative digital platform SchoolVoice to improve communications between parents and students; and the CEO of Exeed Industries recognizes the innovative possibilities in terms of design and performance nano-materials are filled with.

That being said, a longer-term perspective might ask for a more thorough restructuring. Investors are thus presented with a major opportunity to actively assist Abu Dhabi's players in full-digital transition and reap a substantial share of the ROIs. Rather than using traditional automation or robotic process automation to achieve incremental performance, successfully embracing the fourth industrial revolution in Abu Dhabi will require machines to be seen as agents of process change, not the focus of process.
Departments and companies are thus looking to create self-adapting, self-optimizing “living" processes that use machine learning algorithms and real-time data to continuously improve both human-machine and machine-machine interactions. Although humans represent one of the four elements involved in the equation, successful models have them as the leading asset. Automation is inevitably bound to decrease the number of people involved in the process, but it will also confer higher responsibility to the remaining ones, as well as create completely new positions or industries.

On the one hand, the Internet of Things will enable new verticals such as smart homes, buildings, and cities, where sensor data has the potential to automate every part of our daily lives. Systems as diverse as domestic lighting installations, elevators in office buildings, and citywide traffic management systems can safely share data in real time. Tadweer, for example, is exploring how to improve efficiency use of public infrastructure in the field of waste management. The CEOs of Praxair Gulf and Bilfinger Tebodin recognize how sensors on industrial equipment will create a safer environment, extensively reducing capital expenditure for maintenance in the long-run, as AI alerts predict spikes in operating conditions and anticipate problems.

Talking about new industries, nowhere is the application and impact of advanced technology more visible than in fintech and blockchain. Following the launch of its Regulatory Laboratory in 2016, with the implementation of its fintech legislative framework, Abu Dhabi Global Market recently approved its third batch of participants comprising 10 local and international fintech start-ups to develop an advanced and supportive environment. At the same time, Abu Dhabi is rapidly transforming its interest in the application of blockchain into action. Earlier in 2018, Maqta Gateway, a wholly owned subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Ports has developed and launched Silsal: a blockchain-based technology that aims to improve efficiency in the shipping and logistics industry, becoming the first entity in Abu Dhabi to deploy its blockchain solution.

Naturally, the advent of the fourth industrial revolution will shed light on current infrastructural challenges players will face, most notably high data rates and low power connections. As such, government bodies such as Department of Energy, Smart Services Solutions, and the Department of Economic Development, and private sector players such as Etisalat are charged with the crucial task of facilitating systems upgrade and facilitating foreign players interested in benefiting from Abu Dhabi's transition toward Industry 4.0.