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Why should we embrace a new age of computing power in the Middle East

Why should we embrace a new age of computing power in the Middle East

Computing and connectivity are advancing by leaps and bounds, and will soon pave the way to a digital world in which all things are connected

In today’s digitally-connected world, humans use computing as an extension of our own capabilities. Computing power is a means to further explore our environment, to expand our abilities, and to create wondrous new inventions across every sector of society. From the convenience of smartphones and wearables to laptops and super-computers, computing is becoming ubiquitous in our lives.

Yet the way we look at computing continues to evolve. Computing and connectivity are advancing by leaps and bounds, and will soon pave the way to a digital world in which all things are connected, and all things are intelligent.

We anticipate that in five years from now, artificial intelligence (AI) applications will account for more than 80 per cent of all computing power used around the world. As the world continues to face challenges, particularly in combating the Covid-19 pandemic, we also see a greater reliance on computing—bolstered by 5G connectivity—to support applications like virtual collaboration, data collection and analytics, and disaster response command centers.

In the Middle East specifically, computing represents the cornerstone of tomorrow’s intelligent economy. All across the region, governments have reinforced investments in computing technology as part of their national visions. A new breed of incubators, labs, and academic institutions are being established to propel that technology forward on the local level.

It’s perhaps no surprise that IDC recently noted that investments in digital transformation and innovation will account for 30 per cent of all IT spending in the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa by 2024, up from 18 per cent just two years ago .

It is our responsibility now to ensure that everyone has access to this computing power. If we are to truly achieve ubiquitous computing, we need to work together to develop a common understanding of three key concepts: necessity, diversification, and investment.

Regarding necessity, we believe that ubiquitous computing will truly be the cornerstone of tomorrow’s intelligent society. Just as per capita GDP has traditionally been used to measure a country’s economic productivity, per capita computing power will be used to measure the stages of development in “smart” countries across the Middle East. This can actually be measured in something called gigaflops per second (GFLOPS).

Currently, per capita computing power in major countries ranges from 100 to 2,500 GFLOPS. Even places with high per capita computing power are just in the early stages of their development journey. In the next stage of growth, those nations will see per capita computing power surpass 10,000 GFLOPS. It’s an enormous leap by any measure. In many ways, it is equivalent to how electricity formed the foundation for an industrial society – with computing power forming the cornerstone of an intelligent society.

The second concept that needs contemplation is that of diversification. Specifically, we must build a diversified power ecosystem that can support the development of the Middle East’s computing industry. This will be essential to meet the needs of different application scenarios and data types – which will be far more than what we currently have today.

To do this, we need to innovate within the underlying computing architecture. This will fundamentally require greater collaboration between technology developers, industry regulators, academia, and others to evolve the ecosystem at the speed required. An example of this is the Green Computing Consortium. This is a joint effort between global providers of servers and cloud computing solutions as well as universities and research institutions. This Consortium has brought together a remarkable number of industry resources and experts to help promote the development of a diversified computing power ecosystem.

The third concept we must consider is that of investment. Investment is needed to promote the kind of innovation that boosts economic growth and improves peoples’ lives. Enhanced computing power is ultimately done by promoting a country’s information and communications technology (ICT) sector, which thereby contributes to innovation in all other sectors. Higher computing power in industries such as education, healthcare, manufacturing, and energy will lead to the improved welfare of nations across the Middle East. For example, it has been estimated that every dollar invested to make manufacturing plants more digital and intelligent can stimulate 10 dollars’ worth of growth. It therefore makes sense that in the region’s many visionary plans for national development, governments have identified investing in ICT infrastructure as essential.

Underpinning all three of these concepts is the theme of cooperation. Cooperation is essential to achieve a world that is enhanced by ubiquitous computing.
This knowledge sharing is particularly critical when nurturing a local talent ecosystem in the Middle East, whereby a new generation of aspiring minds can harness the value of this technology pivot.

By strengthening our common understanding of computing necessity, diversification, and investment strategies, we will be better able to contribute to the Middle East governments’ ambitious visions and national strategies to embrace the bright future of an intelligent society.

Charles Yang is the president of Huawei Middle East

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