DR. MOHAMMED ALSHAIBI

Saudi Arabia 2021 | TELECOMS & IT | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Dr. Mohammed AlShaibi, CEO of Tamkeen Technologies, about competition, the Saudi Vision 2030, and expectations for 2021.

What distinguishes Tamkeen Technologies from other Information Technology (IT) companies in terms of services?


One of the key things that distinguishes us from our competitors is that we hire as many Saudi nationals, male and female, as possible and give them an environment where they can be productive and empowered. In recognition of this we are now independently classified as one of the best places to work in Saudi Arabia. We understand that our society is going through a transformation to achieve Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030, but the major part of any transformation is technology, and without it, most of these ambitious initiatives will not be possible. Our role is to help our clients achieve this goal through the use of technology. We brand ourselves as the “Trusted and Preferred Digital Technology Partner for Sustainable Growth” for our clients and Tamkeen Technologies is proud that an essential part of our mission is to be: Innovative, Committed, Passionate, Transparent and Empowering to our employees, clients and customers. We are well-known in the market for our ability to rapidly create innovative technology solutions built primarily on open-source technologies, combined with our talented workforce of Saudi IT professionals, makes Tamkeen Technologies a trusted and preferred IT partner. Since we are a government-owned company, our primary mandate is to help the public sector reach its goals, however, we also are also committed to help the local private sector grow and prosper.

What are Tamkeen's efforts in developing the young talent that are now arising in the sector?

We are committed to developing talent. We understand that exceptional talent is rarer than capital and that's one of the reasons, why we have a generous budget for training and upskilling all of our employees. Generally, employers seek people with experience, and Tamkeen is no different in this regard, however, we believe in the talents of our young Saudi fresh graduates and to this extent we have developed and launched an On The Job Training (OJT) program in the summer of 2019. This allows us to train new graduates in a manner that treats trainees are as actual employees and given real tasks and responsibilities. After three to six months, they acquire real work experience and new skills and those that perform well are offered full time contracts. As part of this program , each of the trainees receives a certificate of experience upon successful completion of the training program.

How does Tamkeen try to empower women in the sector?


We currently have a female employment rate of 37% and plan to keep or increase this rate in the coming years. We have also developed programs that allow women to work from home by using them as tele-workers, or Customer Care agents. We entered the Customer Care sector not only to provide superior service for our products and services but also to provide quality sustainable jobs in rural areas; which is one of the ways we balance business results and corporate social responsibility. We have found these women to be quite dedicated and talented. Additionally, we have participated in the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development's program to develop a new generation of women leaders in the IT field and a number of our talented female staff have participants in this great initiative.


What is Tamkeen's main focus today in accordance with the Kingdom's Vision 2030?


IT is a key element in most of the Vision 2030 programs. Without the use of the latest technologies, you will not be able to build affordable homes, provide high quality jobs, or create a striving tourism industry. IT is everywhere, and that is why Tamkeen Technologies believes it can help the sponsors of these programs to achieve their goals. We are working with all government agencies that need our IT services, especially those agencies who are interested in creating self-sustainable program which leverages our ability to build robust IT solutions at no cost to our clients in exchange for allowing us to offer commercially viable paid value-added services.


How do you keep up with innovation trends, progress, and development in the IT sector, with its growing competition?

We actively participate in local, regional and international industry events. Additionally, due to the large number of talented young employees in the company we are lucky to have a constant supply of creative new ideas, which we gladly encourage and support. Although we haven't gone into incubators officially; we do, however, try to identify problems in the sectors we target, then look for creative solutions to solve these problems by building solutions to test them within Tamkeen Technologies and at the premises of our clients to determine if they are suitable on a try before you buy basis. Using this approach, we have developed a Smart Attendance system, an Appointments System and even a Strategy monitoring tool to name a few. In addition, we try to leverage previously built solutions, systems, and components such as our marketplace solution or our licensing tool to address the needs of new clients in new sectors.


What are the sectors that Tamkeen has identified as an investment opportunity to expand?


While we currently work heavily with Labor, Human Resource Development, Health and Culture, we are also expanding our offerings in the areas of Social Development, Education, and Housing with a specific focus on developing our own products in these sectors.

What will cloud technology and AI bring to the Kingdom's productivity?


These are high potential technologies which we believe will flourish in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, hence we are working under the guidelines of the regulatory bodies such as: the Commission for Information Technology and Communication (CITC) and the Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence (SADAI) to develop solutions for our clients using these technologies and as a result have obtained a Cloud Service Provider license from CITC. 
What are Tamkeen's next strategic steps for the year ahead?
We will be introducing more Tamkeen-branded products in 2021, with a specific focus on helping our clients reduce their IT budgets by fully utilizing our self-sustainable programs, migrating to open-source technologies, and replacing inefficient internal or outsourced IT activities with our “Managed Services” offering which spans Application Development, Infrastructure Operations, and Customer Care. In 2021we plan to radically enhance how we interact with our clients and customers by making excellence and delighting our customers the core of what we do.

The pandemic has pushed the entire economy online, creating new challenges but also new opportunities. How has your business changed in the past year?

Saudi Arabia started working to build its digital economy a long time ago. Its citizens enjoy the benefits of numerous e-government services. Government agencies that have a robust and advanced online offering have been able to engage more efficiently and actively with citizens during the Covid-19 pandemic, which further exerts pressure on areas in which improvements in e-government services can be made. Having said that, citizens have become more tech-savvy and demanding in both the public and private sector and have been pushing them to provide even more of their services online in a secure and user-friendly manner. As a leading technology solutions provider in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Tamkeen Technologies has been approached by many government agencies and private sector companies to help them cater to this new demand.

What are your expectations and ambitions for 2021?

At Tamkeen Technologies we expect there are numerous opportunities ahead to further development and innovation in providing local products and services. As an IT leader we believe we have a clear responsibility to play a key role in making the Saudi Arabian society a leader in the use of information technology.