Tech@Work: “Cloud is the New Normal”

Vinod Krishnan, the Head of the Middle East and North Africa at Amazon Web Services (AWS), speaks about how technology will reshape the 2021 landscape

Which products and solutions do you offer for today’s workplace?
Organizations increasingly need options that enable employees to work from any location while remaining secure and productive. We provide a set of solutions built on top of the AWS Cloud to quickly, securely, and cost-effectively enable remote work for any general employee, as well as specialized solutions for contact center agents and creative professionals.

Amazon WorkSpaces helps organizations onboard new employees remotely by enabling secure access to their desktop from anywhere, and ensuring all company content remains securely in the cloud. Amazon WorkDocs provides tools to remotely share and collaborate on documents inside and outside the organization. Amazon Chime delivers a scalable pay as you go meetings solution that enables virtual meetings, calling, and chats from anywhere.

Amazon Connect enables organizations to have a fully operational contact center that can be operated virtually anywhere. Amazon Connect contact center or hotline can be set up in minutes to start taking high-quality audio calls. Agents can be trained in less than 20 minutes, all they need is an internet connection and a headset to provide the best possible customer service.

The AWS remote creative professional solution enables artists, animators, and editors with high-spec requirements to build your own cloud-based virtual workstations and work securely on AWS using Amazon EC2 G4 instances, streaming applications such as Teradici or DCV, and existing licensing for content creation tools such as Autodesk Maya.

How do you think tech will shape the 2021 landscape?
Cloud is the new normal. Every organization in the world has to keep transforming its business and the end-user experience to remain competitive. Customers from every sector are quickly turning to cloud technology as a catalyst for digital transformation. While having a lower-cost infrastructure is an enabler for transformation, it is typically not the main driver.

The main drivers are agility and innovation, and the cloud enables these in a very significant way. In the Middle East, we see strong demand for AWS technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning, data analytics, IoT, and much more. We are excited to continue to invest and expand in the Middle East to enable more organizations to realize the full potential of cloud computing.

We recently announced that will we launch a new AWS Middle East Region in UAE, which will launch in the first half of 2022, and will comprise of three Availability Zones (AZ). This will be our second region in the Middle East with the existing AWS Region in Bahrain, giving customers more choice, lower latency, and flexibility to leverage advanced technologies from AWS.

How do you think technology today helps businesses grow?
Cloud computing has completely democratized technology and today anyone with some basic knowledge of IT, an idea, and a credit card can access the same, world-class technology services on demand. This gives smaller companies the ability to compete in ways that were very expensive and impossible in the past. Startups today are able to quickly launch their new ideas at a cost and speed that simply would not have been possible if they had to build their own data centers.

And, it means that they’ve been able to focus all of their engineering brainpower on the things that consumers love—the app— versus the undifferentiated infrastructure it runs on. An example of this is Careem, one of the region’s great success stories. Born on the AWS Cloud, Careem has relied on AWS for all its IT infrastructure from the very beginning, allowing it to focus on geographical and new vertical expansion and to innovate new technologies and services.

For the Middle East’s young population, this access to leading technology creates limitless opportunities for innovation and the ability to build businesses that contribute to economic growth. Startups in the Middle East are already taking advantage of the cloud to deliver viable businesses that bring regional solutions, and innovating in every imaginable way – be it to deliver music streaming services like Anghami, or healthcare services like Vezeeta, or personal finance services like Sarwa.

Enterprises are turning to advanced cloud technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning to drive digital transformation. Aramex, the global provider of logistics and transportation solutions, built a data analytics and machine learning platform on AWS to solve for the lack of proper physical addresses in the region by developing intelligent address prediction models that convert descriptive addresses into geo-locations. As a result of this adoption, Aramex has increased accuracy in shipping-date predictions by 74 percent, and lowered its average processing time for a prediction from 2.5 seconds to under 200 milliseconds.

How is your company investing in the workforce of tomorrow?
As government entities in the Middle East embrace innovation and develop data-led economies, an important factor to the success of these digitization efforts is the role that governments, private enterprises, and educational and nonprofit organizations have to play in bridging the skills gap in order to reap the benefits of technology. And as the workforce keeps changing, the demand for new skills and technical abilities will only continue to grow.

Late last year, Amazon announced that it will help 29 million people around the world grow their technical skills with free cloud computing skills training by 2025. We are investing hundreds of millions of dollars to provide free cloud computing skills training to people from all walks of life and all levels of knowledge, in more than 200 countries and territories. We provide training opportunities through existing AWS-designed programs, as well as develop new courses to meet a wide variety of schedules and learning goals. The training ranges from self-paced online courses—designed to help individuals update their technical skills—to intensive upskilling programs that can lead to new jobs in the technology industry.

How is your company working towards a sustainable future?
Amazon is committed to building a sustainable business for our customers and the planet. In 2019, Amazon co-founded The Climate Pledge – a commitment to be net-zero carbon across our business by 2040 – ten years ahead of the Paris Agreement. As part of this pledge, AWS is on a path to power our operations with 100% renewable energy by 2025.

AWS has always focused on efficiency and continuous innovation in our data centers to improve operational excellence and reduce our impact on the environment. A recent study by 451 Research found that AWS’s infrastructure is 3.6 times more energy-efficient than the median of surveyed enterprise data centers, with more than two-thirds of this advantage due to a more energy-efficient server population and higher server utilization.

AWS data centers are also more energy-efficient than enterprise sites due to comprehensive efficiency programs that touch every facet of our facilities. When they factored in the carbon intensity of consumed electricity and renewable energy purchases, 451 found that AWS performs the same task with an 88% lower carbon footprint.

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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