Over the past 32 years, GITEX Technology Week has consistently ramped up its scale and influence and is set to have an even greater international impact this year, further boosting the brand as one of the world’s largest and most influential Information and Communication Technology (ICT) events. Under the theme Where Technology Means Business, GITEX Technology Week 2012 runs from 14th to 18th October, 2012 at Dubai World Trade Centre.
GITEX connects more than 138,000 industry professionals and over 3,500 suppliers from 144 countries across five continents, making it one of the world’s top three ICT exhibitions. And its reputation is set to grow further still as the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region continues to use cutting-edge technology as the catalyst for increasingly rapid, era-defining developments. This year, over 80% of leading ICT brands will be present at GITEX, with C-level executives in attendance representing ICT budgets of over USD 50 billion.
“The Middle East and Africa region is evolving with breath-taking pace, and so too is GITEX Technology Week 2012. As the organisers of the region’s premier ICT event, it is our job to stay ahead of the curve and provide the right platform for the latest innovations to flourish and take root,” said Trixee Loh, Senior Vice President at Dubai World Trade Centre, which organises GITEX.
“GITEX is proud to operate as a leader for exciting change, and this year we are once again enhancing our scope, including putting the most powerful spotlight yet on SMEs and on emerging markets such as Africa, as well as refining our ability to not only showcase technology trends, but also to help lead its influential integration across crucial vertical sectors,” said Loh.
Sam Alkharrat, Managing Director of SAP Middle East & North Africa, a subsidiary of German SAP AG, a market leader in enterprise application software, said: “SAP is investing an additional spend of USD450 million over the next four years into the Middle East and North Africa region to expand our regional presence, build value-based customer relationships, enhance our eco-system channel capacity, up-skill local talent and strengthen the localisation of our solutions. GITEX is a timely and powerful showcase for us elaborate on these plans and vividly demonstrate how we can help businesses and organisations run better through transformational innovations in fields such as analytics, in-memory technology, the cloud and mobility.”
Aymen Smaoui, General Manager for the Dubai-based UAE branch of Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE Corporation, said: “As a leading global provider of telecommunications equipment and network solutions, ZTE is delighted to be making its GITEX debut. The Middle East and Africa region is a key part of our business ambitions moving forward, and we are looking forward to highlighting our extensive portfolio of innovative products and business solutions, as well learning about pertinent local trends and connecting with key players and decision-makers.”
New at GITEX
Among the new additions set to make a mark this year is the SME Zone, which underscores the importance of small and medium-sized businesses and startups in shaping the MEA’s technology industry – from innovations to job creation. Tailored to maximise return on investment, GITEX’s SME Zone is a lucrative conduit for SME ICT businesses from the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, to engage with a high concentration of influential investors.
Further indicative of GITEX’s vast global reach, is the introduction of an International Zone, a brand new platform dedicated to giving more than 40 specific country groups the chance to present their most innovative technology products and seek profitable cross-border sales and collaboration.
Africa in Focus is one of the most prominent new highlights at this year’s GITEX, serving to amplify the importance of the continent’s burgeoning economic potential. GITEX 2011 saw a 20% increase in visitors from Africa, and there is a growing interest among technology companies in the continent to expand business across the borders and utilise GITEX as their platform for growth. The World Economic Forum notes that Africa is home to six of the world’s ten fastest growing economies over the past decade, which increases the potential for businesses in the Middle East to play important roles in shaping its digital future.
Excitement is also building around the Middle East co-location of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Telecom World 2012, a leading platform for high-level networking, strategic debate and knowledge-sharing for the global ICT community, which will take place for the first time in Dubai alongside GITEX. ITU Telecom World 2012 is organised by ITU, the United Nations specialised agency for ICTs.
ICT expertise expands
Taking its cue from IT technology’s rapid shift from utilitarian tool to vital lifestyle accessory, GITEX Consumer Tech will reprise its strong line-up of entertainment and leisure hardware, software and accessories to a receptive Middle East audience. Participants will be exposed to the latest technologies in consumer electronics from consumer software to gaming accessories, headphones, MP3 and MP4 players, streaming video, video management solutions and online gaming. The UAE’s consumer electronics devices market is estimated to reach a value of USD3.8 billion in 2012 and this figure is expected to increase to USD4.8 billion by 2016, according to Business Monitor International’s UAE Consumer Electronics Industry Report.
Also set to draw crowds is GITEX Mobile Apps & Content World. According to a recent report by Juniper Research, the mobile app market is expected to exceed USD 67 billion in four years, more than double 2011’s USD31 billion total. The MEA region is set to play an increasingly starring role in this boom, with GITEX’s Mobile, Apps and Content sector forecast to grow by 40% this year.
The smart card revolution, which has impacted ATM cards, public transport payment cards and mobile phone SIMs, will be the focus at the GITEX Card Technology segment where solutions, new technologies and business opportunities will be discussed. The segment aims to build on last year’s noteworthy 66% rise in visitors from the banking and finance sector. With widespread use of Near Field Communication (NFC) imminent across the world, GITEX is set to provide the perfect platform to catalyse innovations in this fast changing, increasingly prevalent sector.
Further telecommunications insights will be shared at GulfComms, which continues to reign as the most established and influential industry symposium of its kind. Featuring representatives and thought leaders ranging from product infrastructure manufacturers and call centres to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) systems, systems integrators and beyond, no other MEA event does a better job of shaping and defining the region’s ICT future.
Meanwhile, Government @ GITEX continues to go from strength to strength, drawing the region’s largest gathering of government bodies dealing with ICT issues. Global market research and consulting company International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts IT spending by the government sector in MEA will increase by 15.1% year on year in 2012 to reach USD7.41 billion. Devised to provide government decision-makers with the technological wherewithal to improve day-to-day life, Government @ GITEX will provide a unique insight into the digital central nervous system demanded by 21st century knowledge-based economies.
Another tried-and-tested segment back by popular demand is the GITEX Digital Marketing offering, where leading marketers, media and creative agencies are given the opportunity to connect with top regional and international web, email and mobile solution providers. According to market researchers Econsultancy, 58% of MENA marketers are increasing their digital marketing budget in 2012 (52% of companies are intent on doing so by 20%), while 81% are planning to increase investment in social media.
Also returning to GITEX this year is the Business Solutions segment where exhibitors focused on network and security, hardware and software will offer their products and services. Hot topics at the Mobile Apps Seminars and Cyber Security Seminars will again add to the stature and scope of GITEX. As cyber security threats to corporates and individuals escalate, it is essential that these parties understand and act swiftly to address the challenges by learning about the latest technologies and measures they can implement.
Co-located at GITEX is InfoComm MEA 2012, which assembles the widest range of audio visual (AV) systems and technologies found in hospitality, retail, architecture, entertainment, broadcast, corporate IT, or government sectors like transportation, education, healthcare and defence. More than 80 exhibiting companies will offer their latest products and expertise for diverse applications and participants will observe the newest AV and information communication equipment being demonstrated, learn new ways of using AV and IT technologies in their businesses as well as consult with specialists and experts.
All the aforementioned sectors will be powerfully complemented by an integrated GITEX Conference agenda, with new highlights including a Consumerisation of IT Forum, Digital Strategies Forum and industry briefings, while Cloud Confex returns as an even bigger event this year.
Over at the Consumerisation of IT Forum, insightful discussions will be held on the security and logistical implications of the rise of BYOD (bring your own device), which entails people using personal electronic devices such as tablets and SmartPhones for work purposes. The BYOD trend is said to be one of the most significant developments in the IT landscape in years, and GITEX’s forum will allow delegates to understand, manage and embrace the changes.
The digital revolution is also changing the way businesses market and sell their products and services, yet few have taken steps to excel in this rapidly changing environment. The Digital Strategies Forum is an event that will impart valuable insights on monetising opportunities in digital marketing, mobility, social media and the internet.
Cloud Confex, now well-established as the largest and most influential platform in the Middle East, is on course to grow 25% this year. Heavily influenced by the challenges and possibilities of managing Big Data, the exclusive platform is set to consolidate its reputation as the premier route to market via two days of intense conferencing and a five-day exhibition graced by leading international players (last year 80% of the top global cloud computing brands were present).
Bolstering the conferences line-up is a series of industry briefings specifically aimed at connecting high-powered IT decision makers – particularly CIOs – in the oil and gas, education, healthcare, banking and finance and government sectors.
Enhanced networking platform
This year, all GITEX attendees will benefit from an enhanced version of ConneXions, an event-specific virtual community inspired by the interface of social media applications. Users can browse profiles of visitors and exhibitors online, set appointments, manage personal diaries and create matches with the best potential clients, all before arriving at the show. On-site, ConneXions kiosks and staff will assist visitors to find the right products, services and exhibitors for their business needs.
Before joining SME Advisor, I worked as a producer/reporter for Forbes Media in New York. I obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and International Studies at the University of South Florida in the US. I am currently in Dubai working as Sub-Editor for SME Advisor Middle East, which is a business magazine published by CPI. You can follow me on Twitter: @joumanasaad or @SMEadvisorME and (Joumana Saad) or (SME Advisor) on LinkedIn.