Transforming business in the UAE

Keith Fenner, Dynamics 365 business group director, Microsoft Middle East and Africa, discusses the importance of digital transformation to the manufacturing sector and other key industries

What are the benefits of digital transformation to the manufacturing sector of the UAE?

“The industrial sector is now Dubai’s third largest, with government forecasts suggesting around $190m will be spent on R&D by manufacturing companies as the sector expands to a value of almost $16bn by 2030, creating more than 27,000 specialised jobs.

“Dubai’s Industrial Strategy 2030 aims to make the emirate a global hub for knowledge-based innovation and sustainable industrial activity, and benefits will come to those who take advantage of the opportunities while recognising the challenges ahead.

“As manufacturers look to do more with less, they can turn to the Internet of Things to automate the collection of data on production efficiency, warehousing, logistics and more. Tied to core business applications like Dynamics 365, AI-driven applications in the intelligent cloud can guide decision makers towards deep insights concerning all aspects of the business.”

What are the current challenges being faced by organisations to achieve digital transformation?

“A manufacturing company may face the challenge of a more efficient competitor, or one with better after-sales support. They may look to optimise operations through IoT-driven monitoring of the production process or improve support services through predictive maintenance at a customer’s site.

“For retailers trying to keep up with the expectations of digital natives, the all-purpose commerce platform of Dynamics 365 allows the merging of CRM and ERP, which delivers the capability to understand every customer and empower employees to give personalised service.

“One big challenge that applies to almost everybody is that of data. Whatever your industry, data is your most prized asset when morphing into a digital business, and siloed information can be one of your biggest stumbling blocks. Dynamics 365’s Common Data Model allows the warehousing and homogenisation of data, so organisations can form visual, company-wide, 360-views of the business.”

What technologies can they leverage that will ease the process?

“A manufacturing firm may prioritise the optimisation of operations, by using Dynamics 365’s Connected Field Service to implement an IoT solution that monitors the entire production process. Sensors will gather data, feed that data to the intelligent cloud and then AI-driven applications will identify deep insights. Such solutions can discover efficiency bottlenecks, deliver predictive maintenance, monitor the progress of deliveries and proactively inform customers of delays, and more.

“Retailers can use Dynamics 365 for Retail to merge finance, operations, retail, supply chain, HR, sales and many other areas, while hoteliers can use the intelligent edge to keep in touch with the needs of guests in real time. From a single device, a guest can not only control the environment of their room but also order hotel services. The hotel can use the data gathered from this activity to gauge future staffing and energy requirements.”

How does Microsoft Dynamics 365 help in the process to accelerate digital transformation and meet the changing needs of customers?

“Keeping up with customer expectations can be a daunting prospect, as the advent of social networks means a negative comment can act as an unwelcome contagion for your brand. By integrating Microsoft Social Engagement with Dynamics 365 or Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, businesses can trawl social media data to discover positive, negative, or neutral comments that aggregate to actionable information. You can discover what your customers think of you – what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong – and address potential issues before bigger problems arise.

“Engaging customers and surpassing their expectations also becomes easier and more effective for marketing teams. Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts exploited data from its customer loyalty programme using Microsoft Dynamics 365 and changed its entire campaign process as a result. The rich insights it gained enabled the company to craft marketing messages uniquely suited to each of its customers, increasing the effectiveness of its campaigns.”

How does Dynamics 365 helps turn data into insights and enable smart decision making?

“Humanity currently generates 2.5 billion gigabytes of data every day – 30,000 GB per second –and as much as 90 per cent of all accumulated data is estimated to have been created in the past two years. If you are lucky to have a large store of transactional data, you are sitting on a potential gold mine of actionable information, but you still face the challenge of converting this data into tangible value.

“Dynamics 365 for Customer Insights helps with this conversion. It has a simple, effective, metadata-driven model, consisting of profiles – where information about customers, accounts, products, staff and other business assets is aggregated – and interactions such as activities, communication, support services, weather, Wi-Fi access and surveys.

“The results are empowered employees who go on to serve engaged customers.”