Saudi’s Digital Future Shines Through Its Youth

Saudi’s Digital Future Shines Through Its Youth

December 05, 2017 at 01:12pm

There’s been a tremendous amount of buzz in the days following the Misk Global Forum last week, and it’s no wonder. When you combine experienced global innovators with the passion and energy of today’s Saudi youth, the results are electrifying.

I had the opportunity to see this up close, as I led a ‘Skills Garage’ workshop at the forum where we focused on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). During the interactive, hands-on session, young Saudi men and women demonstrated their curiosity and creativity as we discussed the ways IIoT is transforming the world of work in the industrial space.

We also spoke about what skills are required in this new digital industrial space and even offered an introduction to coding. It was only two hours, but the energy the participants created lasted far longer.

The event was the first activity as part of a memorandum of understanding that we recently signed with Saudi Arabia’s National Digitization Unit (NDU). Under the agreement, we will work with NDU to drive digital industrial diversification, foster the application of innovative business models, and support Saudi youth in becoming key partners in progressing the digital transformation of the Kingdom.

By the time the workshop started, I was already energized, having participated in a panel earlier in the day called “Fast, Fun and Funky: Collaboration for Innovation.” On that panel, we discussed many types of collaboration,  inclusiveness of Saudi youth in the process, and the importance of building the ecosystem by investing in capabilities and skills- training, like our GE Garages program which today has trained over 500 people. These new ways of working together fit right in with the mindset of today’s Millennials, particularly the extremely tech-savvy and digitally connected Saudi youth.

That’s why the Kingdom’s national digital vision is such a visionary and pioneering step toward accelerating Saudi Arabia’s economic diversification.

For GE, an industrial technology company that now draws on digitization to support our partners in the Kingdom, we are excited to be working with NDU in this area.

Our collaboration with NDU builds on an agreement we signed with Misk in August 2016 to share leadership training resources and to help Misk establish a Saudi Leadership Academy in the Kingdom.

With the NDU partnership, we have created a strong platform to share GE learnings and resources and to work with NDU to create a thriving digital ecosystem. That, in turn, will help create high-quality jobs for youth, and support the development of a high-value supply chain led by young Saudi entrepreneurs.

During the Forum, I had a chance to speak with a number of these aspiring Saudi entrepreneurs, engineers and others, so have heard in their own words their dreams for the future and how we’ll be able to help.

With NDU, we’ll collaborate directly with companies to support digitization in critical areas identified for transformation as part of Saudi Vision 2030, such as healthcare, water and mining. We’ll conduct assessments that define areas for improvement, then define specific digital solutions to move transformation forward.

Some of those solutions may leverage GE’s Asset Performance Management (APM) solution, which tracks and optimizes assets, and ServiceMax which better allocates field service engineers’ time.

Working with NDU, we’ll also host workshops on industrial interconnectivity and the Future of Work. The workshop I led at the Forum was part of the Future of Work track that is designed to give young Saudis insights into advanced manufacturing, the Industrial Internet of Things and open innovation, so they can make informed choices about their careers and professional goals.

As a partner to Saudi Arabia’s growth for more than 80 years, and as a company that has recently gone through its own digital transformation, GE is well positioned to being a partner in the exciting project to transform Saudi Arabia into a diversified, digital economy.

I was honored to participate in this important event, where my conversations with Saudi attendees made clear that with so much people-powered enthusiasm, Saudi Arabia is on its way to creating a new future for itself and its people.

For more stories on GE’s history in Saudi Arabia, click here. For more on GE’s work in the digital and IIoT sectors across the Middle East, North Africa, Turkey and Pakistan, click here.

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