(MENAFN - Arab News) Harnessing a broad ecosystem of customers and partners, and developing innovative business models that can be applied across vertical markets are Cisco's strategy to offer job opportunities for Saudis and further develop the Saudi market, according to Dr. Tarig Enaya, general manager of Cisco Saudi Arabia. During an interview with Diana Al-Jassem of Arab News, he said that Cisco would operate a project in Jazan Economic City attracting global investments exceeding SR 100 billion and creating more than 500,000 new jobs in the various industries.
How does Cisco work to develop government and enterprises in order to serve the citizens?
Cisco's goal is to deliver network-based technologies to help the government and businesses throughout Saudi Arabia to drive national competitiveness and accelerate productivity by adopting innovative new business models. The aim is to accelerate growth and help organizations innovate, deliver new business models, increase productivity and create new jobs. The network is more important today than at any time in history. Our customers understand that innovation is driven by the power of the network. This network platform will be crucial for driving growth, innovation, efficiency and productivity in the public as well as private sectors in the Kingdom. However, we also realize that a strong ICT infrastructure alone cannot drive socioeconomic progress in Saudi Arabia. A holistic approach that also includes the development of word-class talent in all markets to help them use advanced Internet-based networks to their full potential is essential. In addition to platforms, encouragement of innovative replicable business models is essential by harnessing a broad ecosystem of customers and partners. We are therefore committed to working with the government and businesses in the Kingdom to support job creation by building ICT skills and talent as well as creating the opportunities to use those skills. Providing greater access to education opportunities for individuals, communities, and nations will undoubtedly positively impact the standard of living and the economic prosperity of countries.
Today we utilize public-private partnerships across a number of learning based initiatives to help cultivate ICT start-ups and entrepreneurs, which include the Cisco Networking Academy Program and Cisco Entrepreneur Institutes.
How would you describe the contribution of Cisco to boost customer service in Saudi government entities (in percentage terms)?
It is probably unrealistic to evaluate our contribution to boosting customer service in Saudi government entities in percentage terms because this is our key focus in Saudi Arabia. Cisco is focused on helping to drive sustainable growth of Saudi Arabia through delivering new ideas, perspectives and advantage. Our goal is to work with government entities to drive national competitiveness and accelerate productivity by adopting innovative new business models based on the latest technologies. Our understanding of the specific challenges that governments and businesses in the Middle East face puts us in a unique position to create new business models that can accelerate national competitiveness. Our strategy is to help transform industries by harnessing a broad ecosystem of customers and partners developing innovative business models that can be applied across vertical markets the government entities operate in.
What does Cisco present to compete in the digital economy now and in the future?
Cisco is committed to helping to increase broadband penetration in the Kingdom and be a thought leader on the "Digital agenda." The Kingdom's most significant opportunity is to catch up and overtake other countries, in the Middle East as well as globally, and leverage broadband as a platform for socioeconomic transformation using the network to improve lives, empower citizens and make businesses more competitive.
Cisco announced earlier this year the launch of a new line of Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Routers. Tell us about this service and how it could create a new experience for its users.
In April 2012 we unveiled a new line of Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Routers with app-enabled capabilities for consumers to power and enjoy their connected homes of today and tomorrow. The three new Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Routers offer exceptional wireless performance and maximum throughput, as well as support for Cisco Connect Cloud, the next generation of Cisco Connect software, which provides simple anytime, anywhere management of multiple home networks. Cisco also announced it is working with top device manufacturers to simplify their networked products, (such as TVs, entertainment devices and home appliances) enabling new consumer experiences in the future. The new Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Routers, the EA Series: EA4500, EA3500 and EA2700, deliver the latest home Wi-Fi technology and offer a range of prices and performance for active online homes - easily handling everything from streaming HD video and multiplayer gaming to downloading large files, adding storage or printers, and connecting multiple devices.
Could you describe the current state of the GCC as a pervasive computing area?
This region has a great appetite for technology adoption where it proves to deliver business value. Pervasive computing makes new business models possible and unlocks revenue potential, for any business. Companies can enter new markets, respond more quickly to changing customer needs, collaborate more effectively to drive innovation and business value, and execute on strategies that might not have been cost-effective before. Whereas in the past this region was considered to be among places with the most expensive connectivity, this is changing significantly and very rapidly.
Cisco expected the Middle East to be the region with the highest mobile data traffic growth rate from 2011 to 2016. What are the reasons for that expectation?
The following trends are driving these significant increases: 1. More Streamed Content - the consumer expectations are increasingly requiring on-demand or streamed content versus simply downloaded content. 2. More mobile connections. 3. Enhanced computing of devices - mobile devices are becoming more powerful and thus able to consume and generate more data traffic. Tablets are a prime example of this trend. 4. Faster Mobile Speeds - mobile network connection speed is a key enabler for mobile data traffic growth. More speed means more consumption (including 2G, 3G and 4G networks). 5. More mobile video - mobile users want the best experiences they can have and that generally means mobile video. Therefore, we assert that mobile data traffic will grow 34-fold from 2011 to 2016, a compound annual growth rate of 102 percent. So mobile data traffic will grow two times faster than the rest of Middle Eastern and African fixed IP traffic from 2011 to 2016. Our records confirmed that mobile data traffic would account for 19 percent of the rest of Middle Eastern and African fixed and mobile data traffic in 2016, up from 5 percent in 2011. In addition, smart phone mobile data traffic will grow 102-fold from 2011 to 2016, a compound annual growth rate of 152 percent. Smart phones will be 41 percent of total mobile data traffic in 2016, compared to 14 percent at the end of 2011. On average, the number of smart phones grew 76 percent during 2011, reaching 49 million in number. In conclusion, the number of smart phones will grow 4.3-fold between 2011 and 2016, reaching 209 million in number.
Can you tell us about the new Cisco Unified Computing System and how it helps customers to build business faster?
Cisco's evolutionary new data center architecture, innovative services and an open ecosystem of best in class partners helps its customers in the Middle East develop next-generation data centers that unleash the full power of virtualization. Cisco is delivering on the promise of virtualization through Unified Computing - an architecture that bridges the silos in the data center into one unified architecture using industry standard technologies. Key to Cisco's approach is the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) which unites computer, network, storage access, and virtualization resources in a single energy efficient system that can reduce IT infrastructure costs and complexity, help extend capital assets and improve business agility well into the future.
Earlier this year, Cisco transformed Al-Hamra Tower in Kuwait into a SmartConnected building. Is there any plan to implement such projects in the Kingdom?
Definitely. In Saudi Arabia urbanization and the growing youth population has led to the creation of 21st Century Smart Cities known as economic cities or Smart and connected communities. Therefore, Cisco Smart and connected community projects in Saudi Arabia include the following: 1. Emaar the Economic City, the biggest real estate developer in Saudi Arabia has chosen Cisco to deliver the end-to-end design of the biggest economic city in the region, King Abdullah Economic City. This opportunity positions Cisco as the front runner to build the fully integrated smart network as well as the thought leader and possible partner in creating the "4th utility," a next generation service provider that will build and operate the ICT infrastructure in the city. 2. Rakisa Economic City, the main developer for Prince AbdulAziz bin Musaed Economic City (PABMEC), chose Cisco to deliver the complete end-to-end design for PABMEC. The Cisco Advisory Services Engagement is to develop the ICT technology architecture, based on Cisco's Connected Real Estate solutions aiming at centralizing management operations and reducing the cost of day-to-day operation of the real estate. 3. Cisco was appointed to support the creation of the critical information and communications technology (ICT) master plan for the Jazan Economic City (JEC) 100-million-square-meter "smart city" project. The Cisco SmartConnected Community project at JEC will be coordinated in conjunction with JEC's master plan developers Malaysian MMC Corporation and the Saudi Binladen Group (SBG). The project aims to attract considerable global investment of more than SR 100 billion and will establish the presence of a number of major industries in the city such as local energy production, material, manpower and lifestyle. It also aims to create more than 500,000 new jobs in the various industries and service-oriented companies that will be established in JEC. 4. Cisco announced that it has been appointed by the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) to support the provision of strategic advisory services for defining the business model and assessing the feasibility of a Smart Cities Operating Company. Cisco will support the provision of advisory services, comprising technical advice and guidance, to assist SAGIA in the creation of a Smart Cities Operating Company that will facilitate building infrastructure and technology-enabled value-added services. The advisory services will encompass project management, market and service analysis, financial model definition and feasibility analysis.
What are Cisco's plans in terms of empowering students in Saudi Arabia and engage them in global dialogue?
Cisco has invested in the Kingdom in a number of ways, both directly and indirectly. Cisco has not only invested in its own business in the Kingdom, for four years, we have been working actively to make the shared vision of the Saudi government's vision for a knowledge based economy a reality. Cisco also has philanthropic activities in the Middle East region including the Cisco Network Academy program, NetVersity, and other employee-driven initiatives in collaboration with local charitable organizations. Here is an example of our programs in Middle East. The Cisco Networking Academy program aims to provide a consistently enriching learning experience by partnering with public and private institutions to develop and deliver innovative ICT courses, improve the effectiveness and accessibility of the program, and increase access to education and career opportunities. It is present in 19 countries in the ME region with 70,000 students taking classes and 168,000 students since inception. There are 1,840 active instructors and 870 active academies - active female students participation is 36 percent, while cumulative students since inception of female participation is 32 percent and female instructors' participation estimated 25 percent. The CISCO coop/internship program in Riyadh: Last year, Cisco sponsored MCY's innovation category for the 2nd year after successful conclusion of the first year. Since the youth is the main asset of any country, building the right talent has become an increasingly key strategic asset for both nations and corporations alike. Cisco's priorities include carrying the corporate social responsibility where the strategy is to align with the business and implement engagements that have real long-term impact. The Most Competitive Youth Initiative demonstrates on-going commitment to partner with organizations to encourage individual entrepreneurship.
What are Cisco's further plans in terms of Saudi health care information communication technology?
With the network as the platform, Cisco is working closely with telecommunications service providers, health care device manufactures, health care application developers and health service providers to bring innovative and cost-effective transformation to the health industry. The desire to deliver quality health services is a core mission for health care organizations, regions and countries around the world. While other markets may be looking to convert from paper patient records or images stored on film, much of the GCC has already made the change to electronic health (eHealth) systems. The focus is now on leveraging these eHealth systems as the foundation for transformative collaborative care across a city, within a given country and in collaboration with medical partners globally. The next revolution in health care is not only about medicine or treatment, rather the network, to address fair access, about using information, deliver cost-efficiency and quality patient care.