SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Liz McMillan, Carmen Gonzalez, Zakia Bouachraoui, Roger Strukhoff, David Linthicum

Related Topics: @CloudExpo

@CloudExpo: Blog Post

G20: Saudi Arabia Needs More Cloud | @CloudEXPO

The Country Could Rank Much Higher, But Faces Societal Challenges

November 21, 2014

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia needs more cloud computing, more Big Data, and more IoT. This is according to our research at the Tau Institute. The nation does not finish well in our research, yet has a great chance to improve things right at the present moment. Can it? Will it?

Saudi Arabia was represented at the recent G20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia, presenting a plan with a call to "deepen and accelerate the pace of economic diversification" while enrolling some 450,000 students in technical and vocation centers by the year 2020.

The country's rulers plan a "renewed focus on quality" (rather than quantity) and technological development when it comes to its non-oil exports, and seeks more outside investments through the creation of numerous new "free zones."

The House of Saud also wishes to reduce its own consumption of oil and natural gas, according to the Comprehensive Strategy it presented in Brisbane.

Setting the Scene
There have been many years since the first oil shock of 1973 when Saudi Arabia's leaders would have been considered the most important at any global gathering. This was not one of those years, as recent drops in oil prices, brought on partially by increased oil production in the US and Canada, have made Saudi Arabia less of a top-level global mover and shaker.

Indeed, the Brisbane meeting was dominated by explicit Western criticism of Russia's Vladimir Putin. The presence of Saudi Arabia may have seemed like a footnote.

But Saudi Arabia is a legitimate member of the G20, with the world's 19th largest economy. Its per-capita income does not rank among the world leaders, though, as it wrestles with a situation in which new-found oil wealth since the 1970s has created a society of about 30% immigrant labor among a total population that's approaching 30 million people.

Does Not Rank Well
Our research at the Tau Institute examines the relative ICT development and dynamics of 103 nations of the world. Saudi Arabia ranks 84th overall, slightly higher than its impoverished neighbor Yemen. Within its region, Saudi Arabia trails Jordan and the UAE, although to be fair, it does lead neighboring oil-centric nations Oman, Kuwait, and Iran.

Within its income tier (with per-person incomes between $13,000 an $25,000), Saudi Arabia ranks 17th of 18 nations surveyed. This is the toughest class in our research, with global leaders such as South Korea, Taiwan, Estonia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Chile and Uruguay all going gangbusters as they develop their ICT environments and overall economies.

Given its relatively small population, the overall challenge in improving Saudi Arabia's ICT infrastructure is middling, similar to that of Turkey, Jordan, and Mexico.

The Challenge Ahead
We believe in the fundamental theorem that aggressive ICT development acts as a trigger to economic growth and societal development. So naturally, we recommend that the Kingdom make ICT development as an explicit goal.

Technology can also act as a driver of government transparency and be quite disruptive, something that Saudi Arabia's leaders will not want to hear. The society faces great stresses, along religious lines as well as the publicly stated problem of reducing the amount of immigrant labor within its population. Both of these issues - religious and demographic - are potential tinderboxes.

Saudi Arabia announced its Tenth Development Plan, covering the years 2015-2019, prior to the Brisbane Summit. The plan calls for infrastructure development of about $100 billion, up 76% from the previous five-year plan. In the end, the Kingdom says it wishes to develop "a national strategy and action plan for a gradual shift to a knowledge-based economy," creating 1.3 million new jobs for Saudi citizens.

Yet only 3.4% of its planned infrastructure development is earmarked for "transportation and communications," with nothing explicitly devoted to ICT or, say, the way the Internet of Things could be used to develop its transportation vision. There are modern trains in this vision, though, and we'd expect the IoT to play a role here. Implied here is the notion that the Kingdom should commit itself to cloud computing and all that goes with it to create an ICT infrastructure suitable for the 21st century.

Saudi Arabia has a high level of wealth and relatively low population level that, in theory, gives it a better chance than most countries to develop economically and societally over the next few decades. The country's leaders seem to be clear-eyed about the need to diversify its economy as the glory days of oil start to fade in the rear-view mirror. Looking ahead, it's also clear the nation's leaders face a tremendous societal challenge as they work to develop the nation's economy.

Contact Me on Twitter

Follow Cloud Expo on Twitter

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

Latest Stories
The platform combines the strengths of Singtel's extensive, intelligent network capabilities with Microsoft's cloud expertise to create a unique solution that sets new standards for IoT applications," said Mr Diomedes Kastanis, Head of IoT at Singtel. "Our solution provides speed, transparency and flexibility, paving the way for a more pervasive use of IoT to accelerate enterprises' digitalisation efforts. AI-powered intelligent connectivity over Microsoft Azure will be the fastest connected pat...
There are many examples of disruption in consumer space – Uber disrupting the cab industry, Airbnb disrupting the hospitality industry and so on; but have you wondered who is disrupting support and operations? AISERA helps make businesses and customers successful by offering consumer-like user experience for support and operations. We have built the world’s first AI-driven IT / HR / Cloud / Customer Support and Operations solution.
ScaleMP is presenting at CloudEXPO 2019, held June 24-26 in Santa Clara, and we’d love to see you there. At the conference, we’ll demonstrate how ScaleMP is solving one of the most vexing challenges for cloud — memory cost and limit of scale — and how our innovative vSMP MemoryONE solution provides affordable larger server memory for the private and public cloud. Please visit us at Booth No. 519 to connect with our experts and learn more about vSMP MemoryONE and how it is already serving some of...
Darktrace is the world's leading AI company for cyber security. Created by mathematicians from the University of Cambridge, Darktrace's Enterprise Immune System is the first non-consumer application of machine learning to work at scale, across all network types, from physical, virtualized, and cloud, through to IoT and industrial control systems. Installed as a self-configuring cyber defense platform, Darktrace continuously learns what is ‘normal' for all devices and users, updating its understa...
Codete accelerates their clients growth through technological expertise and experience. Codite team works with organizations to meet the challenges that digitalization presents. Their clients include digital start-ups as well as established enterprises in the IT industry. To stay competitive in a highly innovative IT industry, strong R&D departments and bold spin-off initiatives is a must. Codete Data Science and Software Architects teams help corporate clients to stay up to date with the mod...
As you know, enterprise IT conversation over the past year have often centered upon the open-source Kubernetes container orchestration system. In fact, Kubernetes has emerged as the key technology -- and even primary platform -- of cloud migrations for a wide variety of organizations. Kubernetes is critical to forward-looking enterprises that continue to push their IT infrastructures toward maximum functionality, scalability, and flexibility. As they do so, IT professionals are also embr...
Platform9, the leader in SaaS-managed hybrid cloud, has announced it will present five sessions at four upcoming industry conferences in June: BCS in London, DevOpsCon in Berlin, HPE Discover and Cloud Computing Expo 2019.
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...
When you're operating multiple services in production, building out forensics tools such as monitoring and observability becomes essential. Unfortunately, it is a real challenge balancing priorities between building new features and tools to help pinpoint root causes. Linkerd provides many of the tools you need to tame the chaos of operating microservices in a cloud native world. Because Linkerd is a transparent proxy that runs alongside your application, there are no code changes required. I...
In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Dumas, Calligo’s Vice President and G.M. of US operations, discussed the new Global Data Protection Regulation and how Calligo can help business stay compliant in digitally globalized world. Greg Dumas is Calligo's Vice President and G.M. of US operations. Calligo is an established service provider that provides an innovative platform for trusted cloud solutions. Calligo’s customers are typically most concerned about GDPR compliance, application p...
Modern software design has fundamentally changed how we manage applications, causing many to turn to containers as the new virtual machine for resource management. As container adoption grows beyond stateless applications to stateful workloads, the need for persistent storage is foundational - something customers routinely cite as a top pain point. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Bill Borsari, Head of Systems Engineering at Datera, explored how organizations can reap the bene...
"NetApp's vision is how we help organizations manage data - delivering the right data in the right place, in the right time, to the people who need it, and doing it agnostic to what the platform is," explained Josh Atwell, Developer Advocate for NetApp, in this interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Druva is the global leader in Cloud Data Protection and Management, delivering the industry's first data management-as-a-service solution that aggregates data from endpoints, servers and cloud applications and leverages the public cloud to offer a single pane of glass to enable data protection, governance and intelligence-dramatically increasing the availability and visibility of business critical information, while reducing the risk, cost and complexity of managing and protecting it. Druva's...
Kubernetes as a Container Platform is becoming a de facto for every enterprise. In my interactions with enterprises adopting container platform, I come across common questions: - How does application security work on this platform? What all do I need to secure? - How do I implement security in pipelines? - What about vulnerabilities discovered at a later point in time? - What are newer technologies like Istio Service Mesh bring to table?In this session, I will be addressing these commonly asked ...
BMC has unmatched experience in IT management, supporting 92 of the Forbes Global 100, and earning recognition as an ITSM Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader for five years running. Our solutions offer speed, agility, and efficiency to tackle business challenges in the areas of service management, automation, operations, and the mainframe.