Forbes Middle East
Forbes Middle East


Bahrain Embracing Change Through Technology

Forbes Middleeast
Bahrain Embracing Change Through Technology
Abdulla Ishaq, Country General Manager for GBM Bahrain, talks about how the small country is making big strides in digital transformation and AI.


In the last five years, how do you think the market has changed and how have you adapted?

Digital transformation is spreading rapidly throughout most industries. To be successful in the technology sector, companies need to be highly adaptable due to the constantly changing industry. In Bahrain, we have continued to adapt to the needs of the industry while also helping customers prepare their businesses for tomorrow.

We are focused on helping organizations overcome their organizational and technology barriers, which are identified as “digital deadlocks”, and identify specific strategies to revitalize their digital transformation projects. We also encourage our clients to use elements like analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to transform their data into insights that provide business value.

Over the last five years, we have been helping our customers in Bahrain adapt to these changes in the ecosystem by leveraging digital technologies to create digitally-enhanced products and services and build customer-centric business models.


How have the Bahraini government and the private sector been working towards digital transformation?

Bahrain’s public and private sectors have been accelerating their digital transformation efforts, with Bahrain’s IT market expected to grow by 8% to $185.6 million by 2021, according to recent BMI Research. Bahrain has always been an early adopter in incorporating new technologies into its different sectors, and we are now working towards achieving Bahrain’s 2030 vision for digital adoption, including smart cities, analytics, AI, blockchain, IoT and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communication.

In the banking and finance sector, digital banking is being given importance and huge strides are being made to enable innovations in FinTech, with Bahrain housing one of the leading hubs in the Middle East, the Bahrain FinTech Bay. The government has also taken the decision to adopt Cloud technology in its different public sectors, paving the way towards becoming more efficient, and reducing operational costs. The Cloud-First policy has allowed more than 40 government systems and services to successfully migrate to the cloud.

Additionally, Bahrain’s continued efforts in enhancing the ecosystem for technology firms, innovations and startups will sustain the Kingdom’s position as one of the digital transformation leaders in the region.


As businesses across all industries are looking to innovate and work towards implementing AI and smart cities, how can new solutions be created to meet those needs?

We work closely together with our customers to create tailored solutions for their needs that allow them to optimize and automate their organization’s business processes for increased efficiency.

Our work is increasingly focused on designing, building and managing a secure digital infrastructure to help organizations accelerate their digital transformation. With the right infrastructure in place, we enable organizations to transform data into actionable insights and business value. We do this by focusing on hybrid data management to efficiently manage the growing volume of data from multiple sources, business analytics to integrate structured and unstructured data, and perceptive analytics to leverage AI and machine learning. Big data and AI are key in enabling efficient smart cities, and we encourage and aid our clients in implementing these emerging technologies.


Earlier in July, Bahrain announced at the World Economic Forum that it will pilot new guidelines for the procurement of AI in the public sector. How will this change for businesses and the economy?

Being a leader in embracing change brought about by technology, the kingdom has acknowledged the importance of incorporating AI in the public sector and has taken steps towards making this a reality. The guidelines will aid in empowering different sectors to ethically and sustainably utilize AI technology.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that for businesses and the economy, the immediate future of digital transformation lies in AI and it is where real business value will be generated, and numerous hours of productivity recovered. According to a recent Gartner study, AI augmentation will generate $2.9 trillion in business value in 2021, and recover 6.2 billion hours of worker productivity globally. AI will add to the economy by introducing new revenue streams, attracting investments, enhancing productivity, and customer satisfaction. It is expected to contribute 8.2% of GDP or a combined $45.9 billion in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar by 2030.

Additionally, recent studies estimate that in the next five years there will be thousands of new jobs created in the region from emerging technologies. AI will be the motivator for new job creation, and in turn will also cause changes in the economy and the education system, in order to keep up with the new occupations that will be in AI.

The possibilities for AI implementation vary by industry. In a research conducted by IDC, it was shown that the biggest opportunity for AI in the Middle East and Africa is in the financial industry, followed by the public services, including education and healthcare, and the manufacturing sector.

GBM is currently the region’s only provider of complete, guided solutions that help our customers advance their use of AI and analytics, capitalizing on recent advances in AI, high performance computing (HPC) and machine learning (ML). Our expertise has consistently helped customers by creating a trusted data foundation and revealing powerful insights on their businesses using these new technologies.


What are your key priorities and vision for business in Bahrain next year?

We are committed to supporting digital adoption in line with Bahrain’s Vision 2030, which strives towards continued development of the Kingdom’s economy and building a better life for its citizens.

As Bahrain works to prepare itself for the future, we are working with our customers to also ensure that their businesses follow suit, by supporting them with their digital transformation. With the Fourth Industrial Revolution underway, our focus for 2020 will continue to be on cybersecurity. Due to the increasing number of threats businesses are facing, cybersecurity is becoming ever more crucial in the digital transformation journey. Our comprehensive framework of services and solutions, integrating technologies from global security leaders, help organizations face security threats with confidence while protecting their customers, assets and reputation.

Bahrain is also currently in the process of adopting cloud computing solutions and migrating to cloud. We will also be seeing increased adoption of emerging technologies in the region such as AI, and hence GBM will become increasingly active on this front, supporting our customers to migrate to these new technologies.

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