Cisco Study Says Internet of Everything (IoE) Could Generate SAR 59.1 Billion in Value for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Public Sector

4253At a press conference held today, during Cisco Connect KSA 2014, Cisco’s Managing Director for Saudi Arabia Dr Tarig Enaya outlined that according to a Cisco study released recently, the Internet of Everything (IoE) could generate SAR 59.1 Billion ($14.3 Billion) in value for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s public sector over the next decade. The IoE can help the Saudi government create value by saving money, improving employee productivity, generating new revenue and enhancing citizen benefits. Cisco defines the IoE as the networked connection of people, process, data and things, and the increased value that occurs as “everything” is connected to the network.

In the study, Cisco projects that the value for the Kingdom’s public sector can be realised on two levels – city and citizen. At city level the value over the next decade is projected at SAR 51.1 Billion ($12.3 Billion). The company identified the top five avenues through which government can deliver on this value which include strategies around the following areas: smart grid, cyber security, travel, mobile collaboration and chronic disease management.

At a citizen level the value at stake is projected at SAR 7 Billion ($1.9 Billion) for the country. Cisco identifies the following as the top five avenues through which government can tap into the IoE value on a citizen level: payments, counterfeit drug programmes, chronic disease management, telework and smart street lighting.

ICT Skills Gap needs to be addressed in order to Embrace IoE Strategy

Cisco Executives also outlined the findings of Cisco sponsored research conducted by IDC in seven MENA countries. Saudi Arabia, with the largest population in the Gulf (approximately 28 million), faces the most severe skills challenge, with a total networking skills gap of 73% in 2012 and growing. The reasons for this gap is largely due to a lack of technically qualified Saudi nationals, resulting in Saudi organizations having to rely on an expatriate and often temporary (fly-in) IT workforce.

The key findings of the research into the networking skills gap in Saudi Arabia include the following:

A very high value is placed on the importance of the network in Saudi Arabia, with 96% of respondents believing the network will become more important to them in the future.

Almost 40% of Saudi organizations found it difficult to find networking professionals with the right kinds of skill.

Communication skills were rated as the most important non-technical skill needed in Saudi Arabia (66%) with English cited as the most significant challenge facing those who found hiring networking professionals a challenge.

Professional certifications are given high importance in Saudi Arabia, with 90% of respondents believing these to be important when hiring networking professionals.

The Saudi government acknowledges these challenges, and significant amounts of investment and effort have gone into not only improving IT literacy in the country but also encouraging investment in ICT and development of skills. Cisco is committed to working with the government and organizations in the Kingdom to support job creation by building ICT skills and talent as well as creating the opportunities to use those skills.

As a result, the Cisco Networking Academy programme, is partnering with educational institutions, government administrations and community based organizations to deliver information and communications technology (ICT) education through effective in-classroom learning combined with innovative cloud-based curricula and tools to prepare students for careers in the 21st-century global economy. For example, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has had a Cisco Networking Academy since 2013, with successful CCNA graduates. Likewise Cisco has partnered with the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC) and Networking Academy courses have been embedded into Diplomas their training units.

Today Saudi Arabia boasts 83 Networking Academies with 16,000+ active students (35% female); 54,000+ cumulative students since launch (31% female) and 300 instructors (21% female) representing a $20M Cisco in-kind contribution to date. Saudi Arabia is also leading the female participation amongst Cisco’s top 20 countries worldwide.

Technology Trends Driven by the IoE Strategy:

Company executives highlighted several trends – Machine-to-Machine Connections, Building the Next Internet with new Architectures and Security, Mobile Video Mega Trends– that are combining to enable IoE in Saudi Arabia.

Unsurprisingly, security will be critical for business growth and adaption to the new Internet, with companies likely to ramp up the deployment of scalable, cloud-based mobile device management solutions to protect personal and corporate information.

By2022, Cisco predicts that person-to-machine and person-to-person combined connections will constitute 55 per cent of the total IoE value at stake, whereas machine-to-machine connections make up the remaining 45 per cent.

One major benefit of new Internet architectures is browser-based video and collaboration, which can enhance employee productivity by integrating audio-visual conferences, text notepads, and whiteboards into a real-time Web-based multimedia space. Video Mega Trends will similarly transform digital imaging, with ultra HD video enhancing the viewing experience on televisions, smartphones, augmented reality glasses, tablets, and camera-equipped devices.

“With more than two thirds of Saudi citizens living in urban centres and more migrating into these areas daily, our cities must become more flexible and responsive to citizen needs, while making the most of public resources. The Internet of Everything is transforming how cities deliver services and how citizens interact with government,” says Tarig Enaya.

“Public-sector leaders in the Kingdom are also under tremendous pressure to bridge the gap between rising citizen expectations and shrinking resources and they should act now to identify major IoE opportunities and begin by reimagining what is possible in an IoE world,” Enaya concluded.

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