Dietmar Siersdorfer

Dietmar Siersdorfer

CEO, Siemens Middle East
Hanan Darwish

Hanan Darwish

Cluster President Gulf and Pakistan, Schneider Electric
The region's smartest firms are harvesting the best technologies to give their clients an edge, but also working hard to ensure these same technologies do not undermine them either.

What have been some key goals and achievements in the region?

DIETMAR SIERSDORFER We have recently announced plans to expand our digital presence in the Middle East with a USD500 million investment over the next three years, which includes the opening of two MindSphere Application Centers in the UAE. MindSphere is a cloud-based, open IoT operating system that connects products, plants, systems, and machines, enabling organizations to harness the wealth of data generated by IoT with advanced analytics and granting them an edge to cloud connectivity. In this context, the Dubai center will handle airports, logistics, and cargo, in addition to co-developing innovative approaches that improve the movement of people and goods. This will allow us to work closely with our customers and partners to come up with digital solutions specifically aimed at solving their challenges. The MindSphere Application Center in Abu Dhabi will cater to process industries, mainly focusing on oil, gas, water, and waste. It is aimed at enabling customers to improve operational efficiency and reduce their costs across the entire value chain. We are also heavily investing in software grants across the region, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. These grants are aimed at boosting digital skills among youth in the region by providing them with our Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software. Developing local skills is key to driving the countries' digital transformation.

HANNAH DARWISH Dubai, the region, and the world are being shaped by the three mega-trends of rapid urbanization, digitization, and industrialization, along with the “new normal" of lower oil prices. In order to drive energy efficiency across a wide range of industry verticals, Schneider Electric has had strong success in diversifying our business models from oil and gas into building, transportation, water and waste-water, oil and gas, utilities, and data centers. Developing these new solutions has helped our customers overcome the challenge of lower oil prices and helped us to support UAE Vision 2021 and national visions across the region. Among our most innovative customers are the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and its Panorama Command Center; the Hilton Garden Inn at the Mall of the Emirates and its EcoStruxure Building solution; the Kuwait Ministry of Electricity and Water and its nationwide smart metering project; and the Kuwait Oil Company, whom we help with smart meters and smart training through virtual reality environments.

What technological challenges and breakthroughs have you recently experienced?

DS Cybersecurity is one of the biggest challenges facing industries today. While companies have improved protection for their IT environment, they have yet to do the same for their Operational Technology (OT). This means implementing technology solutions suitable for OT to protect their operational assets. We recently conducted a study on the state of readiness of the oil and gas industry in the Middle East to tackle cyber-attacks, which revealed how oil and gas OT environments face significant and mounting cybersecurity risks. Moreover, around 60% of respondents surveyed for the study said they face a greater risk in the OT than IT environment, and 67% believe the risk level to industrial control systems over the past few years has substantially increased because of cyber threats. The results also showed that while digitalization is improving efficiencies and operational insights for oil and gas companies, it also greatly increases cyber risks. To capture the full benefits of digitalization, organizations must rigorously address OT cyber risks.

HD For us, 2017 was an exciting year in which we officially launched our story of the EcoStruxture architecture, our digitalization approach related to the Internet of Things. In April we demonstrated our connected products and solutions for the first time to more than 4,000 customers at a large innovation summit at Atlantis Palm in the presence of many governmental bodies, including the Egyptian Minister of Trade and Industry and the Minister of Communication and Information Technology. It was a major success because people are increasingly seeing Schneider Electric as a holistic energy efficiency company, and our partners have already integrated our solutions into their systems. In our quest to educate the market and reach out to our customers, we created the Innovation Hub on Wheels. We have displayed 17 Internet of Things use cases in the Innovation Hub on Wheels, so that people from various industries can visualize how these can help them. We show how to measure efficiency and how connected products help to control and analyze data. The Internet of Things use cases can apply across industries, from oil and gas to software analytics, performance management, and contracting.