Gitex 2020 in Dubai: From flying cars to robot dog, here’s what’s new

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, today officially inaugurated the 40th Gitex Technology Week at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

Abu Dhabi Police stand at the Gitex Technology Week

Sheikh Hamdan at Gitex Technology Week

At Gitex, a brave new tech world

To say 2020 has been a challenging year is an understatement, with Covid-19 changing the world and life as we know it. But with every challenge comes an opportunity and as the 40th Gitex Technology Week begins on Sunday in Dubai, leading global organisations have come together to demonstrate how technology will provide the foundation on which a more productive, highly efficient and secure future will be built.

Of all sectors in the GCC, education was among the least prepared and most affected for a disruption like Covid-19. With virtually no advance notice, a well-established model of in-person learning was forced to shift entirely online, sending 2.75 million children home. As a result, there is a risk of a decline in long-term learning levels, along with a potential increase in the gap in digital literacy among children. Governments must take short- and long-term measures to prevent such negative outcomes.

However, the education system quickly evolved, and a hybrid learning method that prioritised at-home-learning was quickly introduced via a number of popular applications. Enabling educational institutions both in the region and across the world to adapt to new ways to educate and engage students “ensured that students kept learning and curriculums remained on track”, Nidal Abou-Ltaif, president of Avaya International, told media.

And although the education system has got to a point where its hybrid learn-from-home model benefits all parties involved, Covid-19 also saw the accelerated rise of ‘everything customer’ that is continuing to put immense stress on the retail sector.

According to data published by Google earlier during the pandemic, the most substantial effects were recorded in the retail segment, with average reductions of -53.2 per cent, due to a series of protective measures against Covid-19 put in place across the GCC. Furthermore, a McKinsey report found that more than 75 per cent of consumers have tried new brands, places to shop or methods of shopping so far during the pandemic.

Product availability was the No.1 reason consumers sought out new retailers or products in the past couple months, followed by better prices and promotions.

‘Everything customer’ takes the consumerisation of digital to the next level of expectation. The theory around satisfying this is that technology has to focus on bringing customers closer together and meet their needs in as convenient way as possible.

The customer is no longer loyal, but their needs have to be satisfied with immediate and rewarding experiences otherwise they will opt for the next best alternative.

Convenience at your fingertips

Organisations have already begun to evolve their services to offer customers a more seamless and convenient way to find exactly what they are looking for. Chemicals and paint firm Jotun Middle East and North Africa, for example, recently launched a platform designed to educate and provide customers with one-stop shop for all their requirements.

Like Jotun, organisations want new solutions that combine customer and employee communication and collaboration apps to address the evolving needs of ‘everything customer’ and the experience economy.

Engaging with customers across multiple touch points in a meaningful and highly-efficient manner will surely be beneficial to meeting customer expectations. One platform that has been generating significant interest and traction in the region and will prove to be quite beneficial to the business continuity is live streaming.

At the beginning of 2020, before most parts of the world were compelled to shelter in place, live streaming was on a growth path and projected to account for 82 per cent of all Internet traffic by the end of the year. The lockdown period further contributed to significant growth in usage statistics.

Twitch, a platform used by video gamers to live-stream gaming sessions, reported that hours watched on the platform grew 50 per cent between March and April this year. In Mena, Singapore-based Bigo Live has reported that it now has around five million monthly active users just in Mena alone.

“The applications of live streaming are abundant and infinite,” a Bigo Live spokesperson told Khaleej Times.

“Organisations have already started to use this technology as a means to communicate with each other internally as well as in a way in which customers can visit stores, venues and engage with staff and employees in a more immersive manner. Soon, live streaming will become a norm and we will start to see people spend more time online and develop meaningful connections with each other both professionally as well as personally.”

Cybercrime alert

And although the ability to do so much online is incredible, the reality is, where people go, cybercriminals follow. If an opportunity exists to exploit a situation and lure people into disclosing personal data or relinquishing their money, you can guarantee that cybercriminals will be working on it.

Consumers and businesses in the UAE suffered more than 600,000 phishing attacks at the peak of the Covid-19 movement restrictions, according to findings by Kaspersky. Furthermore, from April to the end of June, more than 2.57 million phishing attacks were detected across the Middle East.

“Looking ahead at the future at a post-pandemic world, we hope to see that people are much better equipped to protect themselves online,” Amir Kanaan, managing director for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa at Kaspersky media.

“As we see working from home becoming more prominent, organisations need to ensure that their employees are equipped with the necessary cyber-education and the skills needed to protect themselves and their organisations from cyber threats. It is important for employees to stay vigilant when working remotely,” he added.

“Cybercriminals are always finding new ways to exploit people, which is why it is important for users to remain vigilant about evolving cyberthreats. We strongly believe that cyber-education and training will help us take one step closer to achieve a secure world in the new normal.”

“While looking ahead at the far future the only way forward is to look into achieving a cyber-immune world. The concept of cybersecurity will soon be replaced by cyber-immunity — which is how we envision a safer future.”

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