What does a Mobile-first, Cloud-first world look like? Highlights from GITEX 2014 in Dubai

Posted by: Samer Ramez Abu-Ltaif, General Manager of Microsoft Gulf

Let me ask you a question. How many times, in the past year, have you heard or read the following terms: Big Data, Business Solutions, Cloud and Mobility?

Your answer is likely ‘to be a lot’. These are all terms that are being used in the technology space right now. But what exactly do they mean?

For companies, they essentially mean that the way we do business is becoming faster. Not just faster, but more productive, more efficient and more easily done from anywhere in the world.

We experience an overload of information every day. In fact, according to the IDC, in 2012 we generated over 2.8 zettabytes (ZB) of information. That’s 2.8 trillion gigabytes! This figure is expected to hit 40ZB by 2020. It has become essential – now more than ever – for companies to access, process and analyse the right information quickly, easily and affordably so that they can stay ahead of their game. Mobile, Cloud and Big Data Processing technology help them to do exactly this.

But the world isn’t just filled with entrepreneurs and CEOs. It’s filled with consumers too who are constantly connected to the internet via smartphones and mobile devices. What does Mobile and Cloud technology mean for them?

Microsoft recently attended the 34th annual GITEX Technology Week in Dubai. This year, the conference, which is attended by over 142, 000 visitors every year, focused on mobile broadband, connected living, and the economic and social benefit of mobile. Microsoft unveiled a new range of Mobile- and Cloud-based applications developed to enable our customers to do more and be more, which show you exactly how companies, governments and consumers can benefit from a Mobile- And Cloud-first world.


The Dubai Next app

Dubai has a goal to become a smart city. They want to create a place where people and smart devices come together to bring change. In line with this vision, Microsoft is creating ‘Dubai Next’, a ground-breaking app that puts the city’s people first. It harnesses their ideas, energy and expertise to create a more sustainable place to live. Through the app, users are able to report incidents and accidents, receive live traffic and emergency notifications, and have access to general first-aid and emergency information. The app will also assist with utility monitoring, project coordinating, task assignment, CCTV monitoring and the execution of re-route plans.

The Smart Drone

The Smart Drone, built by Imagine Cup participants from the University of Ajman in the UAE, is powered by Microsoft technology including Surface and Kinect. It was created as a potential tool to assist governments with rapid response situations, with features including heartbeat sensor, night vision, real-time recording and 20 minutes flying time ranging up to 18 kilometers.

We believe both the drone and the technology is in line with Dubai’s Smart City aspirations to provide enhanced services for citizens through applications. Microsoft is committed to serving this vision and we believe that through our partnerships with governments globally, we are uniquely positioned to add value and insights.   


Employee Services Machine – Emirates Airlines

Microsoft has partnered with Emirates Airlines to create a Windows 8 based Employee Service Machine (ESM) – the first of its kind in the Middle East. The ESM will make it easier for both the administrative back-office staff and frontline employees to access services, without having to queue for long hours at the Employee Service Counters. Staff will be able to access holiday requests, confirmation of employment status or letters requesting services within the company or from government departments.

Check-in app – Rotana Hotels Group

Microsoft also unveiled the Neorcha Check-in application, a new Windows based app that simplifies the guest check-in and check-out processes across all Rotana hotels.

The app eliminates the time-consuming paper registration of new guests. Instead, all new guest registration details are managed through a tablet device, allowing for a personalised welcome and check-in experience.


The Careem app for disabled users

Careem, a company that allows users to book private cars, will be working with Microsoft to add a new feature to their mobile phone application. The app, which currently runs on the Windows 8 platform, allows users to book cars on demand across ten cities in the Middle East. The new feature will now enable passengers with hearing disabilities to effectively communicate with Careem drivers using text-to-speech technology. Users type their text into the app and their Windows phone then reads the text out to the driver.

mPay app with Dubai Smart Government   

The mPay app will make it possible for the public to conveniently make online inquiries and payments for government bills and services. Using their mobile phone, users will be able to pay for DEWA bills, RTA Salik and Nol cards, Dubai Police fines, Etisalat bills and more. This app is a result of a partnership between Microsoft and Dubai Smart Government (DSG) and operates on the Windows 8 platform, making it easier to access and operate on any Windows phone.

Personal Therapist (PeThe) with Dubai Healthcare Authority

The PeThe project allows clinicians to track a patient’s range of movements and other clinical information using Kinect sensors. Clinicians can also connect with patients and provide them with real-time feedback as they perform exercises at their own pace, eliminating the need for patients to visit a physical rehabilitation center on a daily basis at a healthcare setting.    

This system benefits stable patients, travelling patients, and chronic care patients to perform their physical rehabilitation programs from the venue they choose.  The UAE is the first country to apply Microsoft’s motion-sensing technology to healthcare.

So, what does a Mobile- and Cloud-first world look like? It is a world where we use technology to simplify processes, solve problems and work more productively from anywhere and at any time. There will be no more time-consuming paper-based operations, unanalysed data and large, costly servers. Instead, there will be more efficient service delivery, more accountable organisations and more local innovators and entrepreneurs developing solutions to challenges in their communities. Everything will be optimised, enhanced and accessible through mobile applications and cloud-based solutions. It’s an exciting future! And now that you know what it looks like, the only question left is: How will you use Mobile and Cloud technology to improve your life?

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