The pace and scale of change inside Saudi Arabia has seen Trend Micro announce the country as its new centre of MENA operations. Trend Micro is demonstrating its commitment to the country’s clear roadmap towards an exciting future driven by technological progress.
In April 2016, the Cabinet of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia approved the announcement of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, constituting a road map to take the country forward for the next 15 years. The National Transformation Programme, also a part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, defines the road maps for individual government entities. According to this blueprint, government ministries and institutions in Saudi Arabia, are now undergoing a restructuring process to align them to this requirement.
Other member countries in GCC have had various economic and free zone trade incentives and policies in place for some time. However, it was only after the announcement of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 in 2016, that various public and private sector institutions became galvanised by the business opportunities, that Vision 2030 offers.
Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 seeks to take the country to the next level of economic prosperity, delinking it from its dependence of an oil-led economy. Saudi Arabia based and recently appointed, Vice President and Managing Director of Trend Micro, Middle East and Africa, Dr Moataz Bin Ali, himself a Saudi citizen, explains the importance of Vision 2030, for its citizens.
“Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 is not just technology. It is a life for the entire country. It sets the pace of how this country should grow, and how it should expand in the future,” he said. “With the development of the Saudi Vision 2030 and the announcement of that, Saudi has become more of a pillar in the region than anything else.”
The Saudi government has recognised the need to transform itself along with its supporting institutions. This includes the creation of free zones, availability of work visas and progressive life styles. This progressive transformation is giving businesses the confidence to set up their central offices inside Saudi Arabia. And the pace of transformation will bring the opportunity of setting up regional business hubs inside the country at par with the rest of the countries of GCC. “All of these elements are fully recognised by the Saudi government,” said Dr Ali.
Among the technology companies that have decided to move their regional operational hubs to Saudi Arabia is security vendor, Trend Micro. With Saudi Arabia embarking on its journey of transformation, Dr Ali believes this is the right time to be investing in the country.
“Now Saudi is going through its transformation as well. So, it is the right stage to be investing in the country, right stage to be there supporting the country on its growth journey and it is the right stage to be part of this journey from the very beginning,” he said.
Another decisive factor for Dr Ali to consider in the merits of operating Trend Micro, out of Saudi Arabia, are the economies of scale available inside the country. These vastly outnumber others in GCC and the rest of the Middle East region, except for Egypt.
A key reason for the global security vendor to put its weight behind moving into the country has also been the visible commitment by the government of Saudi Arabia. “This business decision would not have been easy or would not have been something that a lot of companies in the region would actually follow through with – if they have not seen the commitment that is happening from the Saudi government,” said Dr Ali.
The release of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 has thrown into the spotlight the importance of public-private partnerships in the ICT sector. The criteria for selection of an ICT vendor supplier inside Saudi Arabia is increasingly moving away from global role play towards an in-country one. In the past, when oil prices were at historic highs, it was the technology brand and name that reigned supreme.
At that time, a price list did not even historically matter. Today, the metrics have changed. It is about what investments, what partnerships and what success story an ICT vendor is bringing into the country.
When dealing with a technology vendor, the preference is to deal with those who are interested in operating out of Saudi Arabia on a longer-term basis and not as mere suppliers. And this extends into the Saudi private sector as well.
Dr Ali said: “The government or any other organisation is not looking for a vendor. They are looking for a partner willing to work hand-in-hand and create a great success story. The government now has the option to choose vendors who are really committed to the country, versus choosing the vendor for the sake of the brand or sake of the neighbour.”
Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and UAE’s Vision 2021 are drawing attention to the increasingly important role that needs to be played by technology vendors, as well as IT security vendors such as Trend Micro.
Vision road maps, to become smart and usable by people, imply that enterprises need to transform into digital businesses. While a key part of the country’s transformation is being built on technology, it also needs robust cybersecurity.
“Digital as an enabler requires a huge security foundation to be able to deliver what it needs to deliver at the end of the day. You do not want to go through a digital transformation and forget the most important part, which is securing that digital transformation,” said Dr Ali.
As an ICT vendor setting up in Saudi Arabia, Trend Micro is taking on a dual responsibility. On one hand, it needs to play its role as IT security vendor by protecting its end-users.
It also needs to fulfill its public-private partnership role inside the country. “If you are not investing heavily in Saudi, if you are not growing Saudi talent, if you are not supporting Saudi individuals, and if you are not knowledge sharing with the Saudi economy, then the government has no use to you as a company,” said Dr Ali.
Increasingly Arabic is becoming the language of business in Saudi Arabia and this is one area that Trend Micro is investing in. Trend Micro is investing in building the base of skilled engineers using Arabic as the means of communication.
“The engineers who are actually working on the ground, a lot of them may need some sort of enablement in that area. And that is why as a security vendor we do not want to be in a situation that is lost in translation. Security is never something that you want to lose in translation,” said Dr Ali.
Other than using Arabic as a language to increase the number of skilled, security engineers in the country, Trend Micro is also looking at establishing an Arabic support centre and security operations centre inside Saudi Arabia. These investment initiatives have been prioritised on the basis of the role that Trend Micro has, as an IT security vendor stabilising IT security within the country, as well to show commitment and support to customers.
As a global Japanese company, Trend Micro uses multiple models to partner with governments and organisations. For Trend Micro and Saudi Arabia.
He said: “As a person in charge of the MENA region, I take Japan as my role model for that. The relationship between Trend Micro and the Japanese government and Japanese industries in total, is something that I would love to reach in Saudi Arabia and in the MENA region. Being like a local company with global presence, or a global company with local presence. This is the ultimate image.”