MAKING THE IMPOSSIBLE POSSIBLE

Dubai 2020 | IT & INNOVATION | INTERVIEW

In Dubai, SAP seeks to be a part of the new tapestry of innovation within the public service.

Sameer Areff
BIOGRAPHY

Sameer Areff is responsible for the development and consistent execution of SAP's go-to-market and sales strategies for all industries and lines of business across the entire product portfolio in Middle East South. Since joining SAP in 2007, he has held a number of diverse management and executive leadership roles, including COO for the Gulf, North Africa, Levant, and Pakistan. Prior to this, he led the SAP MENA presales customer experience team across six industry clusters. In Australia and New Zealand, he held the position of vice president, industry value engineering.

He holds a master's degree (cum laude) in international relations from the University of Stellenbosch and a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Witwatersrand majoring in law, political science, and international relations.

How is SAP enabling the current shift to the knowledge-based economy?
Excitingly, this region has a rather youthful population, and new generations entering the workforce are ready for an economy that is agile and service orientated. Taking a holistic view, we not only bring hard infrastructure like the data center and our solutions, but we have looked to build talent locally and launched a training and development institute. Nearly 1,000 students have graduated from our training and development institute. This has been a huge investment from SAP to ensure that we are creating digital savvy users of the future and equipping them for a new career and new possibilities. Another way in which we upskill human talent is through Next-Gen, our partnership with about 1,600 universities across the globe. Through this program, we bring in SAP into the curriculum to expose students to a wide variety of capabilities, course content, and opportunities, both through SAP and other vocations. Next-Gen creates innovation that is purpose driven and often connected to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, which are well aligned with our purpose as an organization to have a meaningful impact on the societies and the economies in which we operate. The third piece is getting involved in community efforts. There was a program that we called Refugee Code Week, now rebranded as Digital Skills for Today. This program is targeted for people who have limited opportunity to be part of a formal program or be part of a formal university course to empower them with the necessary skills and to democratize coding knowledge.

In which sectors are you seeing faster adoption and integration of solutions?
The paradox of Dubai has been the public sector setting the bar for the private sector. There is perhaps no other market in which this is the case. We have doubled down in terms of what we want to do in the Middle East as a whole, but specifically in Dubai our focus is how we can be a part of the new tapestry of innovation within the public service. We will launch a Leonardo center. Leonardo is the overall description for innovation within SAP. It is inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci and bringing solutions that make the impossible possible. We are doing a fair bit of collaboration with the Minister of AI, also working a lot with Area 71 and pushing Dubai into another stratosphere in terms of transforming the public sector a bastion of citizen and tourist centricity. The public sector for us is a place where we can explore a great deal of how we can build an environment where augmented humanity becomes a prescription rather than a threat.

What visitor experience is SAP looking to bring to Expo 2020?
For us, it is just an immense pleasure to be a partner with Expo along this journey. The aspirations of what Expo will be not only to visitors but what it plans to showcase for the world are topics that are extremely pertinent in today's world. Connecting people and connecting minds are important facets of how we bring the world closer together. SAP is the foundation through which the Expo experience is delivered. Expo has decided to really consolidate on SAP solutions to manage that personal experience, from entering the site, through all the touch points, and exiting Expo, providing a seamless and personal journey. A major part of this is taking care of people of determination and optimizing their experiences. We are looking to build an application with a young start-up for a solution using SAP technology that will make the experience world class and a first ever for people of determination. For example, given mobility is a subtheme of Expo, visitors with limited mobility should be able to reach all four corners of the Expo site.