Outlook 2022: “Exploring and Harnessing Latest Tech to Drive Innovation”

Fahad Al Hassawi, the CEO of du, says challenges have accompanied opportunities in 2021

How was 2021 for the industry and your company?
In 2021, exploring and harnessing the latest technologies to drive innovation, accelerating digital transformation, and delivering a digitally inclusive future through customer and society-centric benefits were among our topmost priorities at du. As industry leaders, we utilised our resources to pursue the possibilities and potential that accompany the new digital era and facilitate sustained development. Ensuring technology is seamless, accessible, and democratised for every UAE community aligns with the UAE National Agenda, and we are committed to making an invaluable contribution to transformation and sustainability.

What sort of opportunities did 2021 bring along?
In 2021, many opportunities surfaced in telecommunications that individually and collectively emphasise the sustained growth the industry continues experiencing. Mobile connectivity demands, digital services, and applications consumption, and the digital transformation undertaken by operator’s customers are areas where significant growth has transpired this year. In turn, this level of vibrancy has compelled service providers to explore new ways to improve digital engagement with customers and further enhance the quality of services, both areas where opportunities have been capitalized on.

Did you face any challenges in 2021?
Like always, challenges have accompanied opportunities in 2021, and this is something we were fully prepared for considering the enormous scale at which the industry continues evolving. Looking back at the last 12 months, shifting consumer demands has presented challenges. Consumers have continued embracing emerging and cloud-based technologies with the specific communication capabilities they desire. As a result, operators – du included – have had to identify the best ways to enhance customer offerings and pursue these avenues without affecting service reliability and quality.

Furthermore, security is an industry-wide issue that has continued to represent a challenge. For instance, telecom operators have been implementing new and emerging technologies, which has opened up additional avenues for new and evolving security threats. Moreover, network virtualization vulnerabilities have also presented themselves as telco companies transitioned from hardware to software-based infrastructure.

What were your key achievements in 2021?
Our 5G rollout and related milestones were discussed previously, and these collectively represent a key achievement for du in 2021. The telco recorded notable 5G rollout achievements, with du’s 5G network providing industry-leading speeds, enhanced performance, and the very best connectivity experiences for a large segment of the nation’s population.

Population coverage and network capabilities aside, this project has driven several other accomplishments over the past year. One pertains to collaboration, and we have partnered with key organisations with a view to introducing influential 5G use cases.. At the same time, we have continued supporting widespread digital transformation across the UAE, ensuring the seamless provision of essential telco products and services that have driven digital migration for enterprises in line with the National Agenda.

du also acted as a disruptive force humanizing 5G technology to empower the UAE public sector through a simplified approach to digital transformation. The telco signed multiple MoUs with government entities in 2021. du is utilizing innovative technologies such as AI and multi-access edge and cloud computing to transform the service provision of public services.

In partnership with Wipro, we unveiled a new Cyber Defence Center to support public and private organizations across the UAE. The Center provides 24/7/365 detection and response capability, designed to predict and mitigate cyber threats that put businesses at risk.

In addition, du Blockchain Edge provides seamless digital experiences and solutions, guaranteeing scalability and empowering individuals, enterprises, and government entities to contribute to the UAE’s knowledge-based journey which supports the UAE Blockchain Strategy 2021, as well as the Dubai Paperless Strategy.

What promises does 2022 bring along?
du has adopted a multifaceted, sequential approach to reach service and operational excellence, which is one of our prominent strategic pillars. Driven by strong human capital and advanced network capabilities, 2022 will further support our goals of becoming a leading ICT provider and transforming the UAE into a premium digital hub as we continue to direct our investments towards new technologies to serve the growing appetite for data.

According to you, which technologies will be in demand in 2022?
Several emerging technologies have significantly impacted telecommunications this past year alone. Given the extent of their transformative potential and the beneficial outcomes they have delivered operators and customers to date, demands for these same technologies will scale even greater heights in 2022. Not surprisingly, 5G is one such technology, and 5G rollout across the UAE will continue into 2022.

Additionally, demands for the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud platforms, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will continue rising. Related solutions will enable operators to expand their market presence with new innovative offerings in terms of IoT. Regarding cloud-based platforms, these will enable operators to continue supporting clients in their digital migration journeys, while AI will follow suit having been proven as an enabler for achieving strategic growth through essential processes self-optimization and automation.

What will be your key focus areas for 2022?
For du, there are several key focus areas over the next year. We plan to delve deeper into industry verticals that are prominent in the region and offer clear opportunities for 5G use cases. We will continue to provide a seamless and omnichannel experience, personalized content, and performant customer service to both consumers and enterprise customers whilst supporting the UAE’s long-term government vision to accelerate digital transformation.

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