BASEM BIN ABDULLAH ALSALLOM

Saudi Arabia 2021 | TELECOMS & IT | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Basem bin Abdullah AlSallom, MD & CEO of Sure Global Tech, about the company's strategy, digital transformation, and areas of growth in the Saudi Arabian economy.

What is your strategy behind Sure Global Tech?

Sure is a 15-year-old company, and as part of our ambitious plan to expand our business and diversify our revenue, we started a new strategy that consists of several main elements. One is continuing to do what we are good at, which is being a business partner for the government. Our business strategy's central component is to continue with our main pillar, which we have renamed "business solutions" because it falls under the business and technology section. We have also launched a new pillar, investment, and recently invested in and incubated start-ups as part of the Sure strategy to grow the start-up market. There are three main stand-alone companies currently in our portfolio: Haseel, an online platform for groceries; Fandaqah, a platform for hospitality, hotels, and chalets in Saudi linked with AirBnB and other platforms; and Majlestech, a board management system on the cloud that supports government and non-government companies to be more governed and systematic. We regard this as a solution that targets publicly-listed companies and start-ups to ensure the board management tasks and voting are secure and systematic. The third pillar of Sure's strategy is fintech. In 2019, we launched the SurePay initiative focused on fintech. We provide our entire portfolio with payment solutions. We want to expand to target and support the Saudi economy in transitioning toward a cashless society. The fourth pillar is expanding globally, which is why we call ourselves Sure Global Technology. We have opened an office in Egypt, where we have 80 employees. We want to target Egypt and Africa as part of our strategy, as we have the capability and knowledge to support the region toward the move to a digital society. This is part of our know-how that we want to expand and capitalize on from other markets. We have rebranded our strategy to accommodate these four pillars.

How are you collaborating on government projects?

We have an excellent reputation working with many government agencies. Most of the vital ministries are currently working with us, including finance, tourism, health, defense, commerce, and investment. The Tayseer program is overseen by the Ministry of Commerce. It is part of the National Competitiveness Program to track all reports globally through the World Economic Forum and World Bank to make it easier to do business in Saudi. They wanted an aggregated system that could gather feedback from the private sector, whether local or international, and escalate the relevant issues to the National Competitiveness Program sub-committees. This is a massive project, as everything is now automated with SLAs and dashboards that go to minister-level so they can see every task and the performance of each ministry.

How does Sure position itself within the Kingdom's digital transformation process?

We understand the importance of digital transformation. With the new leadership standards of the government, there is always demand for new technologies and changing the status quo. It is a big challenge for us internally to ensure we maintain clients' expectations and global technology standards. We always challenge ourselves before going to the clients to determine if moving to a different technology is the right thing to do. We are not partial toward any technology or specific industry; we are only partial to our partners and clients, as we are an end user of that service that the customer is using. We are proud to have within our team subject matter experts in certain technologies, and this makes us unique from the other players in the market as we are staying here and investing for the future.

How are you positioning yourself in financial inclusion, and what gap do you hope to bridge?

The government is pushing for a cashless society, and when we started our strategy, we looked at the verticals and technologies where we could add value and find synergies between our portfolio and our services as a second focus. One of the areas that we considered investing in was fintech, as we can add a great deal of value. We have developed many solutions for our government partners or clients that sometimes contain payment and online transaction support. We can add value to a cashless society by using technology that we built and have certified from SAMA such that we are now able to sell in the market. The second thing we are growing is the online retail business. We also look at the small and micro businesses that will grow in Saudi. Tourism, events, entertainment, and sports are growing, and all are in need of payment solutions and cashless solutions that can add value. We want to be the partners in adding value to integrating solutions beyond payment acceptance such as integration with their cash registers and online platforms.


What other areas will see significant growth soon in Saudi Arabia?

We have identified two main areas in which we have not seen major growth in to date but in which there is great potential. These are logistics, where we should develop in terms of technology side since tech companies could add value, and the industrial sector, as we want to look at how Industry 4.0 and technology could also add value to the industry. Many things could be replaced with robotics, data analysis, and linking the logistics chains and suppliers with manufacturers to create local demand and international exports.