In an exclusive conversation with The Titans magazine, Ahmed Al Ahmed, CIO, Nakheel talks about the organizations digitization strategy, major projects and partnerships and how they are looking having direct relationships with the technology providers.

What has been Nakheel’s digitization strategy so far and what is your roadmap for 2018?

Nakheel IT strategy was built with a deep focus on the digitization and went through multiple stages starting from 2012. It started with a full renovation of the processes and infrastructure in order to be agile ready. Virtualization was the first step towards moving to the cloud. The strategy also focused on the customer engagement through digital channels and established multiple systems that converted many processes into a digital format. The workflow system was one of the in-house implementations that converted millions of transactions into electronic format and eliminated thousands of papers. The 2018 onwards strategy is another stage of our digitization. There are multiple initiatives are planned for 2018, and some of them are executed already. The focus goes not only for the cloud services but also around multiple vertical markets technologies like business intelligence, leasing business, self-service and advance call center to serve our vertical business.

What are the top projects of Nakheel for the next 6 months that we can witness?

Two of the major projects that are currently under implementation are related to the retail leasing. The solutions will enhance the leasing processes and will also get integrated with the tenants for the real time revenue recognition. Another major system is currently is under development which is going to serve the Development Control and Urban Planning unit. This system will be integrated with several backbone systems to provide a centralized interface for the team with all related information. Not only that but it will also automate several processes that currently done in traditional manual efforts and will facilitate an automatic submissions of the customer requirements over a new portal. In the cloud initiatives, one of the major vertical systems that is responsible for the Facility Management will be fully transferred to the cloud as a SaaS model with additional features and better ROI.

Tell us about your major partnerships of 2017.

The partnership concept is divided into two parts as per our understanding and depends on the location of the entity in our supply chain. The vendors from one side and the end users in the other side. In the internal side, we have built an excellent relationship with the business units members so we can convert their needs into technological actions. In the other side, Nakheel IT did major partnerships with key vendors in 2017 and accomplished major projects. Our partnerships strategy focus not only on the major and solid integrators but also extended to the technology providers like Microsoft, Oracle, Lenovo, Avaya, HP, InforEAM and few others. We see the maintenance of these relationships as a mandatory strategy to stay up-to-date with the technologies in order to bridge the gap between the technology and the provided services to our customers.

What are the key technologies challenges faced by the Real Estate and Construction sector?

The technology challenges in the real estate market relies on the time to market. The construction of a large public buildings like malls for example requires lot of technology preparations during the design phase in order to provide a competitive customer experience in the future and once the building is ready and opened. However, technologies are developed these days might end up with a kind of obsolete technology by the time the building is opened. This requires a lot of search to make sure that the used technologies are agile and can be adapted and upgraded at any point of time. In the other side, this vertical market is growing very fast in UAE and very dynamic. This adds another challenge on the companies that are using legacy systems.

What kind of vendor/solution provider engagement do you look forward to in 2018?

Our 2018 IT strategy is looking at cloud-based services that serves all our vertical business units. Hence, we give higher priority to the vendors that provide cloud services with their systems. It should increase our ROI and free our time to focus on our service delivery rather than look at the infrastructure issues. We also prefer to have direct relationships with parent companies. This would enhance the response time and the quality of services and at the same time will make sure that IT would stay aligned with the agile service delivery.

Being a CIO, what are your top 3 priorities for 2018?

  • Improve Customer Engagement through Agile Digital Channels and mobile services
  • Big Data with Business Analytics
  • Explore new technologies like Blockchain, AI and robotics.