In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), we have reimagined what our future will be with our Vision 2030. This vision is driving rapid advancement across all sectors in the Kingdom, diversifying our economy and digitalizing all aspects of life. And it’s this vision that I now spend my days trying to help realize as CEO of CNTXT.
In my former role at Saudi Aramco, I was part of the company’s transformation work to digitalize every part of our operation. Aramco was a frontrunner when it came to seeing the potential of digitalization, and now, in CNTXT, we are obsessed with bringing that same digital, transformational power to the entire spectrum of industries across KSA and beyond. CNTXT is a joint venture between Aramco, Cognite and Google. It’s founded on the idea that data drives change for the better.
In this digitalization trio, Aramco brings industrial knowledge and local presence; Cognite delivers a best-in-breed data platform; and Google, as a strategic partner to CNTXT, marks the first ‘hyperscaler’ to enter the Kingdom.
Achieving hyperscale is essential to Vision 2030
Hyperscale is a term we will come to hear much more about in KSA. It’s all about reaching a massive scale in computing, typically through cloud services or other networking and internet solutions. We are now on the way to digitalizing the Kingdom, but hyperscale with Google Cloud means that we can advance ten times faster than we do now.
I believe that our Vision 2030 is only possible with a hyperscaler like Google in the mix. It’s a bit like setting the foundation before you build, everything that comes after is dependent on it. Once the foundation is laid, an ecosystem can grow. But building an ecosystem is not the job of CNTXT alone. It takes a Kingdom-wide effort, with public and private sectors working together, to inject the digital possibilities and ignite innovation opportunities.
We’re taking a enabling role in our future
I see our role at CNTXT as that of an enabler. From healthcare, to education, to banking – cloud services are at the core of the inevitable transformation of every industry. It’s what will spark new solutions, innovative applications and better insights that lead to even smarter decisions for the customers.
I have witnessed this firsthand as part of the digital transformation team at Aramco. We knew early on that digitalization was essential to our global competitiveness, our efficiency, and our long-term sustainability. That’s why we began working with Cognite, using their software to extract efficiencies and uncover sustainability solutions to meet constantly rising targets for both production and climate. The combination of moving to the cloud and Cognite’s data platform was a game-changer for Aramco, which is exactly the kind of digital ‘win’ we want to spread across the Kingdom.
Digitalization isn’t a ‘big bang’
For companies that have not entered the digital realm, it can seem overwhelming. But true to KSA’s Vision 2030, we cannot do things like we’ve always done them. To modernize and become a truly digital global player, companies must be proactive, open-minded, and ready to embrace change. First, it’s a mindset shift, and then comes the shift in the way of work. There is no ‘big bang’ when it comes to digitalization. Rather, it’s a constant and steady evolution, one that requires leaders at the top to sponsor the change and drive its momentum.
For companies in KSA that are on the brink of transformation, with leaders who see the potential and are willing to invest in a long-term, digital future, I have three pieces of advice for you. This advice stems from my decades in Aramco, and our work to bring the cloud and transform this massive company into the digital energy giant it is today.
1. Embrace the Cloud
If your IT team is tasked with maintaining your traditional infrastructure, they will lose focus on what matters for true, long-term success. As a company, you’re spending effort, time, and money on something that can now be done in a better, more efficient way. By moving your operations to the cloud, you redirect your focus to what matters most for the future of your company.
2. Embrace technology to drive new solutions
There is no shortage of new technology and a plethora of partners who are ready and willing to help you develop solutions that transform your business. From banking apps to digital healthcare solutions, technology can help hone your focus on serving your customers in better and more innovative ways. Partnership is essential to move in this direction, blending your industry-expertise with their technology prowess can be a perfect match.
3. Get more value out of your data
With a fully digital operation, suddenly you can see the bigger picture. The historical silos of information are erased, and now the data is connecting the dots. This can help you understand where there are inefficiencies, opportunities for collaboration, or even insights into who you can serve your customers in new and better ways.
Transformation is a journey, not a destination
I have seen transformation efforts succeed and I have seen some fail. And the ones that failed did not know where they were headed in the first place. Success requires clear objectives and goals, knowing where you are going and accepting that the journey will not be a short one. Digital transformation is not a project. It never stops. It’s a journey of constant improvement and innovation. After 2030, I believe that KSA will be a different place – a truly digital and modern Kingdom that knows how to use data and technology to continuously shape a better future.