DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

Saudi Arabia 2017 | TELECOMS & IT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Yasser Alobaidan, CEO of Jawraa, on its core businesses, the attractiveness of the Saudi ICT market, and adapting to changes in the marketplace.

 Yasser Alobaidan
BIOGRAPHY
Yasser Alobaidan has over 16 years’ experience in developing ICT markets and offered recommendations for strategic business development across the Middle East. Throughout his career, he successfully led three telecom service providers and eight startup operations in the region. Currently he sets on the board of iMVNO association, WirelessArabia Forum, incubation management platform.

How was Jawraa received in the market, and what are its core businesses?

In 2005, we began as a systems integrator, and today we focus on three major areas. Today Jawraa's vision is in line with the Vision 2030. We want to be a partner in digital transformation by providing the right models and solutions for governments and corporates to make the transition. Our three operational pillars help us deliver on this vision. The first pillar is cloud solutions. In 2015 Saudi expenditure on IT was USD13.8 billion, which was the most of any country in the region. Still, despite this, there has been little focus on coordinated spending. This means that there has been a good deal of double spending and unnecessary expense, with different ministries spending money on redundant services. In 2016, there was a move to centralize these expenditures on the service systems, and this requires a local cloud, which we help provide. We deployed our cloud technology in 2015 and are now the second-largest MS cloud service provider in the country. This is an area where centralization of common services is necessary because it is much more cost efficient. The second pillar is finding the right solutions and partners. We are currently partners with some of the largest technology firms in the world, and these partnerships allow us to craft solutions and systems that better serve our customers. We can create systems that are useful across a number of different industries, ministries and entities, and to do this we need the best partners with the best technologies. We can provide our customers with high-quality solutions while giving them a service that respects and acknowledges their native traditions, norms, and ways of working. The third pillar is Professional Services. More than 50% of the federal budget goes to health and education; however, looking at the output and the results of these ministries operations, it is clear that there are still challenges. The best way to fix these issues is to convert its operations to digital platforms. This makes nearly every aspect of its operations more effective and more efficient, helping to lead to more successful outcomes. We are now working with a number of government agencies on many different levels, and we strongly believe that digital transformation will be key in the future in the success of 2030 Vision.

How are international hardware and software firms approaching Saudi Arabia?

In 2015, the ICT market in Saudi Arabia was worth USD34.7 billion, and any international firm would like to be part of that. We have seen many international firms entering the market place and aggressively pushing for greater market share. We are constantly fielding calls from international firms seeking access to the Saudi IT market in one way or another. We have partnerships with many firms and we provide a number of services that help them gain access to the Saudi market. Whether we are a distributor or end user retailer depends to large degree on the requirements of the specific market needs. In other cases, we form joint partnerships with international organizations, leveraging the synergies of each to enhance profitability. So, much depends on whether we are a systems integrator, a partner in joint venture, or a distributor.

How satisfied have you been with the reforms implemented under the Vision 2030, and have they impacted the way you position Jawraa?

Jawraa is an extremely nimble and adaptive company, and change can take place rapidly. For us, change and flexibility are paramount. We are therefore able to adapt quickly to any new trends that emerge in the market place. Last year, we played a large role as a consultancy, helping firms and ministries take general strategic suggestions from large international consultancies and translate them into actionable tasks. This year will see those tasks executed on, and we expect that major changes can be realized on a number of levels.