Dubai offers a glimpse of the future

Brid-Aine Parnell

Tuesday 12 April 2016

Future Technology Week could become the enterprise tech event to watch in the Middle East.

Dubai’s inaugural Future Technology Week saw experts and attendees talking about all things technology, from the security challenges of the bring your own everything (BYOx) trend  to a modular, AI-driven smart recorder.

Four events in one

Spanning cybersecurity, mobility, big data and the Internet of Things, the event included four specialised industry trade platforms: Gulf Information Security Expo & Conference (GISEC); Gulf Enterprise Mobility Exhibition & Conference (GEMEC); the Internet of Things Expo (IoTx); and The Big Data Show.

GISEC covered all angles of cybersecurity, a sector which, according to a Cybersecurity Ventures report , will be worth US$13.43 billion in the Middle East and Africa by the year 2019.

“Cyberthreats are a serious issue to many organisations worldwide as hackers are creating new sophisticated attacks to crack into companies’ data and individuals’ personal records. This information is often sold on the black market in a matter of days. This year’s GISEC will welcome top cybersecurity professionals from around the globe to discuss innovative strategies to fight cybercrime including corporate and individual data breaches,”  Trixie LohMirmand, senior VP of exhibitions & events at organiser Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), said ahead of the event.

Companies from global networking firm Cisco to local partner DarkMatter took part in the event, and spoke about the current threats facing businesses.

“Attackers today are so resilient and are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Since we know that breaches are now the new normal, the good news is that all businesses have started to think: how do we do security differently?” said Adam Philpott, director of cybersecurity at Cisco EMEA, who delivered a keynote at the event.

“Technologies must provide market-leading levels of security effectiveness to detect and block threats and this begins with visibility. We also have to acknowledge that security by design has got to be part of everything that is being built, so that customers can ultimately trust it.”

Security was also a talking point at the one-day GEMEC conference, where speakers discussed the need to balance security with usability in the enterprise mobility world. User interfaces, mobile adoption and hyperconnectivity were also on the agenda.

The opportunities presented by tomorrow

The mood at the IoT and big data events was very optimistic, with business leaders earmarking IoT as a massive opportunity for firms.

IoT is a great blue ocean of opportunity and we’re only just starting to explore it. We expect global IoT spend to reach $2 trillion by 2020,” said Anastasia Ribbing Kristoffers, a senior managing consultant for Huawei Technologies.

Irfan Khan, chief technology officer at SAP Global Customer Operations, who spoke at the event, pointed out that Dubai was already a Smart City leader and these kinds of public/private partnerships would help drive the Internet of Things.

Event organisers DWTC said the IoT market would build to US$10.9 billion in 2019, from US$5.1 billion in 2015.

“More data has been created in the past two years than in the entire history of the human race; the growth in IoT products and resulting surge in big data are transforming traditional business models,” said Trixie LohMirmand.

Meanwhile, Dubai-based Mosaikx beat five other regional startup companies to win The Hive, an accompanying Future Technology Week event.

Mosaikx product was Hipo, the world’s first modular and wearable smart recorder, which took the AED50,000 top prize.

Hipo allows users to store and organise their verbal recordings using an artificial intelligence algorithm. And the device is fashionable, too – it can be customised into a necklace, wristband or clip.

“We’re one of the very few IoT companies based in Dubai that is building a smart product from scratch. Our technology doesn’t exist anywhere in the world and The Hive has provided a platform for us to share our technology with a community that understands exactly what our product is all about,”  said Sina Torabi, CEO and co-founder of Mosaikx.

The Internet of Things, big data and mobility are all still growth sectors for technology, and tied up with all of them is the need to balance usability with security. By bringing all of these threads under one umbrella, Future Technology Week has found a niche that attracted top speakers and attendees to Dubai.

GITEX (Gulf Information Technology Exhibition) has long been the top tech event in the Middle East, but its focus is on consumer technology. Future Technology Week could well be the event that enterprise tech executives in the region put into their calendar each year.