A LOCAL UNDERTAKING

Saudi Arabia 2014 | TELECOMS & IT | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Eng. Bejad Alharbi, Founder and Chairman of the Board of the Technology Control Company (TCC), on the need for local companies to tackle digital security challenges.

What efforts are you making to address the needs of local and international companies in what has become a technology-heavy economy?

Technology Control Company (TCC) is all about bringing in technologies from international companies. And, in 2008, when we the company was founded, we realized that there was a need for local critical solution ICT to be built utilizing the best technologies available. There is a distinct lack of technology transfer and a need for a local means of sourcing the latest technology for local firms. From the beginning we decided not to be box movers for international companies; we decided that we have to be a hands-on operation, keen on building our local capabilities. We are not resellers or distributors; we facilitate technology innovation for locals. There are certain niche sectors that we work in, such as security. Work in this area must be local and, therefore, our participation is key.

In terms of security, what trends are you currently observing?

Cyber security is a current trend that everyone is talking about. Business and personal consumption alike are today increasingly looking to cloud computing. Security has therefore become a crucial consideration and awareness is, in some ways, more important than the tools and techniques used to ensure it. Information is now shared and everything is mobile, which is precisely where we provide our services. We secure information from the end user to the service provider, and this instills confidence in the public when using their personal information. We are working in the areas of security and encryption; that is to say, making sure that end-user data is not in any way compromised. This is a large undertaking requiring considerable investment. We are developing a local service and participating with international partners to build and customize it. Additionally, analyzing data in Arabic also poses a challenge, and as a result of the demand our activity goes beyond simply providing technological capability.

This year has been described as the Year of Encryption. Moving forward, do you have any plans for growth regionally?

Yes, absolutely, as this is our core business. We have just launched our new secure token “Makeen." It is a national product, the first Saudi national encryption token, and the backbone for many encryption systems. The related device can encrypt and protect your data at a personal or corporate level. It was developed 100% by a local R&D team. This said, we enjoy a healthy information exchange with experts at universities all over the world that enables us to expand our capability. We are training our Saudi team, which is a long-term process, but an essential one that will provide them with the skillset needed to develop their own techniques and methodology, and tailor it for the local market. We are in a position today to release a number of our products and offer our experience abroad, especially in the GCC. Security quite simply has to be a localized leveraging technology that is native to your region that can be customized for the local market. And by providing products to clients that they can then adjust instills considerable confidence.

“Business and personal consumption alike are today increasingly looking to cloud computing."

In terms of your Saudi R&D efforts, what are you doing to ensure that local information exchange is sustainable in the future?

We have a program whereby new graduates work with us. They also participate in projects, thereby developing themselves, and work alongside our partners. We are building local capability because we believe that local knowledge is what we need to provide greater opportunities for ourselves and the wider industry.

Technology, and especially encryption, is a very fast-moving field. What trends do you see on the horizon that you'll have to respond to going forward?

Moving from a desktop network local to a wireless one, people increasingly conduct business by smartphone. They do not want to be dependent on a certain location at a certain time. We need to give them the flexibility to work from anywhere, and in order to do that we need to protect transmissions. Cyber security, in that respect, is more important than ever.

Where do you hope to see TCC in five years in terms of growth and market position?

We have a set strategy and are continuing to build our capability. We're also considering an entry into infrastructure, a new business line for us. TCC is therefore set to become a holding specialized in different critical solution systems. I hope that within five years we'll have become a regional company, with an especially strong presence in the GCC.

© The Business Year - March 2014