Wael Abdoush, IBM Egypt general manager, explains in an interviews with Ahram Online that Egypt has a strong potential to profit from digital transformation due to the government comprehensive strategy and current investments to adopt AI technologies.
Based on a recent study, 50% of organizations’ growth in Egypt will be expected in Hybrid Cloud adoption by 2023. Mr. Abdoush stressed the importance of boosting laws and regulation regarding the use of clouds and clustering data.
AO: How did COVID-19 affect IBM’s plans and projects in Egypt? And if the lockdown continues, what will be your plan for the next few years especially in Egypt and the developing countries?
WA: There is no doubt that COVID-19 proved to be a turning point for many companies not just in Egypt but also globally, as the disruption and uncertainty caused by the crisis has accelerated the digital transformation that for many was already underway. Seemingly overnight, almost every organization around the world has been forced to shift to a near entirely remote workforce and they need to keep their businesses running smoothly. I believe that the current crisis emphasized the critical importance of technology solutions that enable organizations to change the way they work. Moving forward, our goal is to help our clients address the “new normal “and accelerate their transformation by contributing technology and expertise including comprehensive business protection and recovery programs designed to help maintain business continuity under challenging conditions.
AO: What are the Egyptian market’s opportunities in AI and hybrid cloud? Do you have any monetary estimates?
WA: We are redefining our future as a hybrid cloud platform and AI company, where we have directed our focus on the USD 1.2 trillion global hybrid cloud opportunity investing in open innovation and security. To bring an open hybrid cloud platform to our clients, we’ve acquired Red Hat for USD 34 billion to help clients avoid being locked into vendor relationships, while being able to leverage our expertise in AI to modernize and digitalize their businesses and to harness the power of their data and existing systems.
Across the Egyptian market, we’re witnessing tremendous opportunities where, according to our market study by the Institute of Business Value (IBV), 50 percent of organizations’ growth in Egypt will be expected in Hybrid Cloud adoption by 2023. Each organization will leverage 6 hybrid clouds in use per organization by 2023. It is important to mention that Egypt took important steps to enhance the ecosystem by introducing the first draft of the data protection law. To speed the momentum, it is important as well to boost for further laws and regulations for cloud use, data clustering. It is also important to raise the public and awareness and engagement in adopting new IT technologies.
AO: Can you tell us more about IBM’s collaboration with the government in digital transformation?
WA: Egypt is currently embarking into a comprehensive digital transformation strategy to improve the economy and public services for citizens. We are proud of working with the Egyptian government in several initiatives of national importance including “Egypt Digital Builders”, where we invest in skills development in technologies like Hybrid Cloud, AI, and Cybersecurity to support digital transformation and empower the Egyptian youth with new skills for today’s job markets. We have also been involved in several national projects through our history such as: Our collaboration with the Ministry of Finance for the full automation and digitization of tax administration and procedures and our project with the General Authority for Investment and Free Zone to help obtain permits and licenses on behalf of investors from a one-stop-shop from Egypt's different government bodies. We also worked on throughout major projects years ago like the national ID project, the digital documentation of the National Archives of Egypt (NAE), Al Azhar scripts and many more.
AO: Why IBM will split into two companies by end of 2021?
WA: In October 2020, IBM announced that it will accelerate its hybrid cloud growth strategy to drive digital transformations for its clients. Accordingly, IBM will separate its managed infrastructure services unit of its Global Technology Services division into a new public company that we announced as “Kyndryl.” This creates two industry-leading companies, each with strategic focus and flexibility to drive client and shareholder value.
AO: What is the impact of this decision on IBM’s local and global projects?
WA: We have positioned IBM for the new era of hybrid cloud, which we then accelerated with the acquisition of Red Hat. At the same time, our managed infrastructure services business has established itself as the industry leader, with unrivaled expertise in complex and mission-critical infrastructure work.
As two independent companies that will capitalize on their respective strengths; IBM will accelerate clients' digital transformation journeys, and Kyndryl will accelerate clients' infrastructure modernization efforts. This focus will result in greater value, increased innovation, and faster execution for our clients globally and locally.
AO: Will there be an official local or regional representation for Kyndryl?
WA: Earlier this year, IBM announced the appointment of Martin Schroeter as Chief Executive Officer for Kyndryl. Mr. Schroeter served as IBM’s Senior Vice President, Global Markets, where he was responsible for IBM’s global sales, client relationships and satisfaction, and worldwide geographic operations. All the other announcements for local and regional representations will come on time.
AO: Based on the market share of AI and clouds, what is IBM’s rank in comparison to the competitors?
WA: IBM is strongly investing in the areas where we see clients focusing their efforts – open innovation, security and high-value services delivered via the cloud – and will continue to double down on our work in these key areas.
Accordingly, today IBM is the number one hybrid cloud platform company. Our cloud business is much more comprehensive than any other cloud provider because it includes capabilities others don’t have and reflects the actual cloud buying patterns of enterprise clients. Our hybrid cloud technology and services enable enterprise clients to design, build, operate and integrate applications on private, public and hybrid clouds.
AO: What are the leading businesses that can adopt AI and hybrid clouds in Egypt?
WA: Our operations have expanded to include several sectors in Egypt. Recently we provided leading mobility solutions for the automotive industry to scale and streamline their business processes and provide new digital services to their clients. Last March, we announced a new collaboration with EgyptAir to modernize its Duty-Free back-end operations and leverage IBM Watson Assistant to create an AI virtual agent to help transform their travelers' shopping experience. Earlier this year, we also announced a new partnership with TelecomEgypt to help them develop an open, hybrid cloud strategy that will modernize their operations and accelerate their digital transformation journey. Telecom Egypt will adopt IBM Cloud Pak for Automation built on Red Hat OpenShift, to become more efficient, flexible and future-ready to support core operations and enable new digital services.
AO: How can we drive the public’s awareness on the use of AI and cloud?
WA: For the past several years, businesses around the world have been driving their digital reinventions to take advantage of data. Every enterprise client I speak to is talking about digital transformation, how to become a cognitive enterprise, an agile organization that is fueled by data, guided by AI insight, and built for change on a hybrid cloud. Based on our studies 90 percent of enterprise data goes unanalyzed, which is a huge business loss. Globally, companies spend 120 billion hours in lower value work this situation could be reclaimed through automation and adoption of IT technologies. It is expected in the near future that IT will become decentralized open and secure and 94 percent of the companies will use multiple clouds and data platforms. We work with a lot of entities whether public or private to leverage our innovative technology, industry expertise, services, and skills to support our clients’ transformation journey to grow and fuel economic prosperity.
AO: Finally, what are your thoughts on companies that are skeptical of sharing their data on the cloud?
WA: With the pandemic accelerating digital transformation initiatives, businesses increasingly have to shift mission critical data and workloads into the cloud. All sensitive, high regulated industries are under pressure to help ensure data privacy for their consumers.
That’s why we have invested heavily in security and compliance, including confidential computing, to help organizations move confidently to hybrid multi-cloud and integrate security into every phase of their cloud journeys. We also invested in industry-specific clouds –such as Financial Services and Telecommunication to ease the adoption of cloud for clients in highly regulated industries moving mission critical workloads to the cloud.