‘Saudis are the future exporter of technology’

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Saudi Gazette

RIYADH
— The steps that have been taken by the Kingdom to further digital transformation are fast-paced and crucial. Recently, there has been strong participation from the private sector as well, which has seen major players launch initiatives in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. One example of this is the partnership General Electric has signed with Obeikan Investment Group that aims at enhancing the digital transformation of the Kingdom and encourages Saudis to become future technology exporters.

To shed some light on this, Saudi Gazette met with William Ruh, CEO for GE Digital as well as Senior Vice President and Chief Digital Officer (CDO) for GE, and Eng. Abdallah Obeikan, CEO of the Obeikan Investment Group (OIG), to talk more on the partnership and potential outcomes.

Ruh began by saying “our partnership with Obeikan is unique. We both share a vision about the next generation of manufacturing which is based on the use of digital technology that connects machines, analyzes data from the machines to contribute to artificial intelligence and advanced analytics, and allows organizations to deeply shift and improve the efficiency of their teams. The world is changing from one where people manage machines to one where machines, data, and analytics are helping people do better in their manufacturing processes. As a result, you are seeing productivity gains of from 10-20% which is huge for any manufacturer.”

He added “the agreement has a number of very important aspects. First, Obeikan is a customer of GE technology in their own manufacturing applications so they are using it themselves, just like GE uses it for ourselves. Second, we both share the idea that we can take this technology to other manufacturers in the region and globally, together exporting digital solutions out of the Kingdom. Finally, we are working with Obeikan to establish Obeikan Digital Solutions, which is a practice within the Group that is creating technology that we plan to use together as a further extension. We want create a solid market that is able to advance manufacturing, especially in the food and beverage industry, on a global basis.”

GE and Obeikan started their partnership more than eight months ago. Obeikan said “we have already started to implement digitization, getting connected and optimized, and training our staff on digital solutions and using the data. Today we have more than 200 great opportunities for data scientists and analysts to improve productivity within operations. It is a journey of continuous improvement and optimization. We are happy as Saudis to share our experience and plans. We have digitalized two of our plants, and the plan is to have all 20 of our plants digitized in the very near future. The objectives of our journey are numerous – most importantly, digitization will improve competitiveness for exports from the Kingdom, and will create new added-value jobs like data scientists and data analysts for young Saudis.”

This strategy is in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Plan 2020. “We need to contribute to the GDP of the economy by being competitive in the region and creating jobs for Saudis. We also want to enhance both the employee and the customer experience. This is the heart of the country’s and the economy’s transformation,” Obeikan said.

Ruh remarked: “We’re bringing our application platform for the Industrial Internet of Things, Predix to the market together. One thing about Predix is that it is extendable. Obeikan is a visionary company, and has programmers and data scientists who are building applications on Predix, which can be extended to their customers in the region and globally.”

He noted that it’s important for GE to be a partner in Saudi Arabia’s digital transformation story. He added, “We are committed to the Kingdom, from our all-female Business Processing Center, where we have more than 30 female developers who are building applications on Predix, to our work with various private and government entities. In the coming weeks, we will host a hackathon focused on the Industrial Internet of Things in partnership with Obeikan, challenging local developers to create applications for industry. These new talents will help to create application ecosystems from Saudis to Saudis, and then from Saudis to the world.”


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