Technology investment and partnerships: Driving 21st century growth

The UK Minister for Investment, Alphabet's CFO and an UAE Minister of State discuss how technology investment and partnerships are crucial in driving 21st century growth.

To maintain the acceleration of digitalisation in the 21st century, public and private sectors must invest in innovative technologies and collaborative partnerships, while developing talent and putting meaningful data regulations in place.

The UAE’s digital drive

The UAE is prioritising this type of investment, according to H.E. Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, the country’s Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications.

In order to stay relevant in a rapidly changing global ecosystem and compete on a global scale, he explained that the UAE had to invest in digital infrastructure and create access to digital technology to attract tech talent. “Build it and they will come,” he said.

The country did this with the launch of Dubai Internet City and its more recent investment in high performance supercomputing, with NVIDIA, to support artificial intelligence and machine learning to accelerate the growth of start-ups and scale-ups in the region.

In terms of tech talent, the need to nurture this internally is also important and H.E. Omar bin Sultan Al Olama said the country wants to do this by significantly increasing the number women in tech over the next few years.

Uniquely positioned with over 200 nationalities living in the UAE, the country’s ultimate aim is to responsibly utilise this wide variety of data, focusing on quality, volume and velocity, and work with external partners, to become a “scale-up nation”.

“Here, any algorithm can become globally relevant, and we want businesses to bring solutions to scale in the UAE,” he added.

Data is key to establishing new partnerships

Joining H.E. Omar bin Sultan Al Olama at GMIS, Lord Gerry Grimstone, the UK Minister for Investment, emphasised the importance of sharing data when establishing new partnerships.

He said: “The world has never been so connected through data, but also is at a risk of drifting apart.

“Policy makers have to revaluate how they approach partnerships and trade deals – digital trades are now outstripping goods traded – and negotiations [like between the UK and Gulf Corporation Council] have to focus on this when considering trade agreements between countries.

“The worst thing to do is make data sticky, it has to be able to flow, safely with data protection and cyber security, within the digital, global economy.”

Ruth Porat, CFO at Google’s parent company, Alphabet, also emphasised the importance of data and analytics in helping mitigate risk.

She said: “Data analytics creates intelligent risk [for organisations], data velocity, agility, transparency and visibility.”

Without these data tools at work in a cloud environment, organisations will be unable to navigate the digital landscape and are at risk of “driving with mud on the windshield,” Porat continued.

Keeping pace

Lord Grimstone added that international institutions must keep pace with changing times driven by technology and have a similar attitude to governments like the UAE, or Singapore, who have a start-up mentality.

“They have to move very quickly and it requires different people and different languages.

“It’s an empowering time for youth and diversity, as age and experience can be a disadvantage in this new age,” he said.

Porat added that governments and international institutions must “develop public policy to correspond with movements by bringing together data with an underlying governance framework. Responsible data use is imperative for companies to move forward.”

And regarding investment, she explained these organisations should prioritise, compute capacity, AI, analytics and talent.

Investing in the digital future

Investment used to be about money, but now it’s a mutual activity, according to Lord Grimstone. “Investment is becoming sustainable and driven by digital innovation [money and expertise],” he said.

Discussing what Alphabet looks for when investing in the public sector, Porat commented: “[we look for] government’s commitment to digital infrastructure, investment in people – the acceleration of efforts for digital training – a tech forward, consistent regulatory environment and the government’s posture regarding technology – are they migrating to the cloud and using digital tools? Are they walking the walk?”

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...