The Business Year

Essam Alshiha


Making Digitalization Simple

CEO, Saudi Business Machines (SBM)


Essam Alshiha joined SBM in 2002 as an account manager, after which he served in progressively senior roles. Before his appointment as CEO in 2017, he was VP of sales and COO of the company. He started his career at SABIC, after which he joined Al Khaleej Computers and ISE as a systems engineer and project manager. He holds a bachelor’s in computer science and engineering from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals.

SBM's recent IBM Beacon Award is a testament to its commitment to innovation and customer satisfaction.

SBM was recently awarded the IBM Beacon Award for having the world’s best software defined storage (SDS) solutions. Could you tell us about this?

In 2019, SBM earned the coveted IBM Beacon Award for being the foremost solutions provider for SDS at the recent IBM Think conference in San Francisco. The award recognizes SBM’s exceptional work in driving commercial business value by delivering world-class solutions via SDS. SBM succeeded in displacing one of the most competitive products used by our client by positioning IBM SDS alongside IBM ALL Flash and SVC. This helped our client better manage and provision its storage and prepare itself for digital transformation. This solution will also help our client accelerate the implementation of AI and analytics that will support its business and reduce the time to market. With this great success story, IBM is now in a strong position in the Saudi market as one of the foremost SDS solutions providers. This win is a testament of our commitment to innovation and customer satisfaction.

Can you tell us more about your activities in the fintech space?

We have implemented numerous important projects for the financial industry in the Kingdom, including banks, financial institutions, and SAMA. The idea is to ensure that transactions are done in a transparent way and making sure we are able to stop potentially fraudulent or improper activity as quickly as possible. We seek to help institutions integrate their systems so they can immediately understand and curb any unauthorized or improper activity in a more consistent and accurate way.

Under the digital transformation drive of Vision 2030, there many opportunities for global and local IT companies. How are you positioning SBM to take advantage of these?

In 2019, innovation is a major focus area for SBM; we are working hard to build solutions using emerging technologies such as AI, blockchain, robotic process automation, and IoT. With our Design Thinking Workshops, we help organizations identify potential use cases and create disruptive business models. Essentially, we seek to work with technologies that make digitalization as simple as possible. This is needed to meet the ambitions of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, whose milestones will play a central role in diversifying the Saudi economy or developing public service sectors such as health, education, and tourism. Digitalization is the future, and SBM strives to be at the forefront of driving this change.

What prospects do you see for cloud technology, hybrid clouds, and data centers in the Kingdom?

Cloud technology is of vital importance for businesses and business solutions. In fact, it helps SMEs achieve their growth goals at a much quicker pace. By building and enhancing the private cloud solutions of our customers and clients, SBM helps organizations transform their existing applications into this new micro-services architecture. This helps our enterprise-level clients address their business challenges and implement agile solutions. Companies like IBM have started to make strides in this area even though they are not the originators of these technologies. Oracle and Microsoft are still competitors, though there are other newcomers that we also have to deal with. SBM is both following the lead of IBM while also taking its own initiatives in these areas.



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