As Saudi Arabia is undergoing a digital transformation strategy based on a new customer-centric approach, its National Digitization Unit (NDU) is eyeing smart cities solutions that will realize Vision 2030’s goal of building the new hub for the Arab World.
A digital disruption is on its way as the Kingdom aims to focus on the customer satisfaction of citizens’ services, according to Deema Alyahya, CEO of the NDU, a recently created independent entity to take up the ambitious task of digitizing citizens’ services while working with the private sector.
“Whereas government entities were used to working in silos and had their own strategies, now we need to unify all these efforts as it would reduce cost and increase efficiency and customer satisfaction,” she told journalists on the sidelines of GITEX Technology Week.
A highly consuming population made up of a majority of youth, the government considers the potential to transform them into producers rather than consumers.
Its plan to digitizing sectors, including healthcare, education, smart city, e-commerce would create around 200,000 jobs by 2025.
“We need to create a mindset of a job creator rather than a job seeker,” she said. “Entrepreneurship is a big player where we want to focus on the innovative spirit and the generation to start create jobs and export Saudi talents and software.”
One program that recently launched is Fekratech, a competition inviting citizens to share their solutions for problems faced by the public sector.
Asked about the challenges, Alyahya told Saudi Gazette: “In any digital disruption, there will be resistance by various parties because of the legacy way of doing work.”
It’s a gradual process and plans could change along the way, she further said, adding that the economic and social impact it will bring will eventually attract more people.
As part of the digital transformation strategy, several elements are being developed including its infrastructure, connectivity, digital identity, and shared data.
German software company SAP has chosen Saudi Arabia as their hub for their commercial cloud in the region with an investment of SR285 million.
SAP executives further revealed it is one of the early adopters of dedicating an entity to cater to the Kingdom’s NDU.
The company’s latest system of innovations, SAP Leonardo, centers around machine learning, artificial intelligence, big data and block chain to drive digital transformation projects.
The NDU is considering such solutions for smart cities that can enhance ports capacity, parking space allocation, and measurement of soil potential in harvesting crops.
For pilgrims and visitors, SAP’s Smart Haj solution offers government entities to gather and analyze data, using sensors for pilgrims and real-time analytics.
“This would enhance pilgrims’ experience as it manages crowds and improves traffic flow,” says Taha Almadani, SAP’s presales director.
Further, the Live Hospitality solutions deliver seamless end-to-end visitor experience for travelers. Solutions include targeted marketing campaigns, virtual tours, personalized room settings, and business apps with KPIs to measure hotel performance.
“Saudi Vision 2030 can lead to exciting innovations such as personalized and incentivized citizen services, integrating wearables on government workers, and using artificial intelligence for predictive citizen services,” said Ahmed Al-Faifi, managing director of SAP.
Data centers have been established in Dammam and Riyadh. A localization center has also been built to ensure that all the solutions are aligned with the government's regulations, Al-Faifi added.