Covid-19 Archives — Carrington Malin

January 14, 2021
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It’s been a bumpy ride for GCC technology ecosystems, with plenty of budget cuts, job losses and, due to the onset of Covid-19, slowing venture capital activity. However, some of the region’s most ambitious government initiatives to-date have been put in place to accelerate innovation, talent and growth in the tech sector. Uptake of some technologies also seems to have spiked since the pandemic.

So, is the region’s tech sector growing or cooling off? It’s an interesting question and, as with many questions like this about industries, there’s no simple answer. WIRED Middle East asked me whether I was optimistic about the future of tech in the region. The short answer is that I am very optimistic, although the tech sector is not without its challenges.

It is true that much of the technology sector has been hit hard by the knock-on effect of lower oil prices on GCC IT spending, increase price competition and the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on decision making, new projects and project spending. Multinationals and regional technology firms have cut budgets, including staffing and other expenses as a result. However, one really has to drill down to specific technologies, solutions and the current technology needs of customers in the region to fully understand what’s going on. All types of technology business are not contracting. In fact, far from it, some tech firms are growing fast and many of those are working with new emerging technologies for automation, data analytics, AI-powered digital services and other disruptive services and solutions.

There are also contradictory trends when looking at the impact of 2020’s turmoil on jobs and the region’s need to compete for the right tech talent. There are three key driving forces here shaping the region’s tech talent pool: 1) global trends creating new tech jobs and decreasing demand for tech jobs that are being obsoleted and/or impacted by automation, 2) the GCC’s belt-tightening of the past few years due to lower oil prices, forcing public and private sectors to be more cost-effective and 3) the unexpected consequences of Covid-19, which include the accelerated demand for some emerging technologies.

Along side the economic ups and downs, and the surprises brought about by the pandemic, there are the heavily funded innovation and technology initiatives that have been put in place by Saudi Arabia and the UAE. For example, the massive open data projects in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the recently announced $20 billion Saudi National Strategy for Data & AI (NSDAI), Abu Dhabi’s increasing investment in R&D, and numerous smart city and smart city services projects. We’ve also seen an upswing in the numbers of tech startups outside of the popular ecommerce, delivery, travel and transport segments.

However, the one change that I’ve noticed over the past few years, may be the crucial one for the GCC technology ecosystems. I believe that there has been a clear attitudinal change among GCC citizens themselves, that has helped to make technology a more attractive sector for jobs, entrepreneurship and investment. In years past, a traditional career in technology has been a safe government IT job, whereas today locals are joining the tech sector in larger numbers, there is a new generation of tech startups founded by GCC citizens and we’re starting to see more interest in startup venture capital investments from Gulf investors.

Huge, well thought through government tech initiatives, the recent acceleration of demand for emerging technologies and the increasing engagement of GCC nationals in the tech sector are the three top reasons why I believe there has never been a more exciting time for the region’s tech industry.

Read Ashleigh Stewart’s full article on WIRED Middle East.


March 31, 2020
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CIO Middle East recently asked me about recent moved by the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulation Authority (TRA) to unblock certain VoIP and video call apps. In March 2020, the TRA lifted a long-held ban on a few popular apps such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom as it announced measures to promote remote working.

It’s an interesting subject since, although the UAE is one of the most technologically advanced nations on the planet, pressure from telecom service providers has effectively blocked the usage of most of the world’s most popular voice and video call apps, such as Facetime, Skype and Whatsapp. So, now having allowed access to a number of video call apps, what will happen when the coronavirus emergency ends? Will the TRA block those apps again or does this mark the beginning of a new era of policy?

Read the full article here.

 


March 16, 2020
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These days, it doesn’t matter where you work or what you do for a living, marketing has changed as a result of Covid-19 and some may feel that their business has been turned upside down. Here are five ways to review and refocus your marketing effort.

While you naturally put the health and safety of your customers, employees and other stakeholders first, you’ll also be mindful that every business needs to take measures to ensure productivity, revenue and profit. However, the reality is that your customers are probably grappling with changes to their own lives at the moment. So, simply calling them up to find out if they would like to buy more of your new product or service could prove to be highly counterproductive.

Continue reading this story on SME10x.com.


March 13, 2020
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E-commerce companies and other technology firms have been talking about the future of drone delivery for some years now, where commercial drones can deliver prepared food, groceries, medicine and other online purchases directly to the consumer in a matter of minutes.

In reality, while the technology is largely ready, commercial drone delivery – a new market that, according to Markets and Markets, could be worth more than $27 billion by 2030 — has long been held up by lack of government policy and regulation. Could the demands of fighting Covid-19 actually fast-track the introduction of drones to the masses?

Continue reading this story in The National.


March 6, 2020
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If there isn’t now an element of uncertainty in your business, then you are either the exception to the rule, or you’re simply in denial. Against the backdrop of economic instability, daily coronavirus news coverage and public fears over safety, many businesses are trying to figure out how the global crisis affects them and what, if anything, they can do about it.

Here are six communications tips for the coronavirus crisis to help you ensure that your business doesn’t say all the wrong things to the people that it cares the most about.

Continue reading this story on SME10x.com