GM dis­cusses Mi­crosoft Kuwait’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in EGOV3

Kuwait Times - - LOCAL - By Ben Gar­cia

KUWAIT: Mi­crosoft was one of sev­eral par­tic­i­pants in the E-Gov­ern­ment Fo­rum (EGOV3) held in Kuwait from Novem­ber 15-17, 2015 at Ar­raya Ball­room at Court­yard Mar­riott in Kuwait City. Mi­crosoft helps clients plan, en­dorse and ben­e­fit from the trends ben­e­fi­cial to cus­tomers and the gov­ern­ment, es­pe­cially in their trans­for­ma­tion plan to the dig­i­tal era.

Kuwait Times spoke to Charles Na­has, Gen­eral Man­ager, Mi­crosoft Kuwait, on the side­lines of EGOV3 fo­rum.

Kuwait Times: What is your par­tic­i­pa­tion in the E-Gov­ern­ment Fo­rum about?

Charles Na­has: We are very ex­cited to be in this e-gov­ern­ment fo­rum. We are par­tic­i­pat­ing for the third con­sec­u­tive time. It is a great op­por­tu­nity for com­pa­nies like us and the gov­ern­ment to share in­for­ma­tion, tech­nolo­gies and so­lu­tions that ev­ery­one can bring. A pri­vate com­pany like us aligns plans to suit the needs of the present time. Mi­crosoft can do many things - we have been work­ing with a num­ber of gov­ern­ment agen­cies like the min­istries of health and fi­nance in terms of de­vel­op­ing ser­vices. We are work­ing to share our ex­per­tise with them to al­low min­istries to com­mu­ni­cate with each other and share ser­vices.

We have lots of projects and are work­ing with dif­fer­ent en­ti­ties to sup­port e-gov­ern­ment projects and this is very ex­cit­ing to us all. We can share the ex­pe­ri­ences that Mi­crosoft has learned through­out the world in the Mid­dle East and Europe, North Amer­ica and Asia, and all the ser­vices that we have pro­vided, and take th­ese ex­pe­ri­ences and so­lu­tions that we have de­vel­oped for gov­ern­ments across the world and share them with the Kuwaiti gov­ern­ment to help them launch new ser­vices for their cit­i­zens and res­i­dents. Our com­mit­ment to egovern­ment stems from our com­mit­ment to Kuwait; and the fact that we see our­selves as busi­ness en­ablers for the gov­ern­ment, busi­nesses and in­di­vid­u­als in the na­tion.

KT: The Kuwaiti gov­ern­ment is as­pir­ing hard to build the best pos­si­ble e-gov­ern­ment sys­tem - can we really trust ev­ery­thing to Mi­crosoft in terms of se­cu­rity?

Na­has: Se­cu­rity is at the heart of Mi­crosoft but this is not just about se­cu­rity. It also in­cludes pri­vacy - we build our prod­ucts with all this in mind. We have en­gi­neers and sci­en­tists who are really look­ing at th­ese is­sues; the good thing about Mi­crosoft is that we have a very strong re­search and de­vel­op­ment team look­ing at the chal­lenges ahead in­clud­ing se­cu­rity. Win­dows 10 is one sam­ple prod­uct that was built with great se­cu­rity and pri­vacy fea­tures - we can as­sure you that we have the best tech­nol­ogy in the world. We have our own cybersecurity cen­ter that helps com­pa­nies if they have is­sues, and we sup­port our cus­tomers be­yond our prod­ucts. We also sup­port them if there are prob­lems like cy­ber­at­tacks or any­thing sim­i­lar. We are help­ing the gov­ern­ment and pri­vate sec­tors in making sure we have an ex­cel­lent en­vi­ron­ment.

KT: You have men­tioned some threats like cy­ber­at­tacks and the likes - does the threat dif­fer from one coun­try to an­other? Say, if you are in the Arab world, do you need more se­cu­rity mea­sures than the rest of the world? Should you con­sider mod­i­fy­ing your fea­tures to suit Mid­dle East’s need?

Na­has: No, ab­so­lutely not. We have the same tech­nol­ogy in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Mid­dle East. We have one sin­gle plat­form for our cus­tomers.

KT: Can you re­veal some­thing about the e-gov­ern­ment 2035 plan? How big is the plan?

Na­has: The gov­ern­ment of Kuwait laid down the plan, we did not, but the 2035 vi­sion is some­thing that we look for­ward to and are aligned to it. Be­tween the vi­sion and ex­e­cu­tion, there are lots of things to be taken care of. Out of the plan, there are so­lu­tions and ca­pa­bil­i­ties that have to be de­vel­oped. This is where the Mi­crosoft is head­ing - we teamed with the gov­ern­ment and we look at the vi­sion they have. Then we come up with our knowl­edge and ca­pa­bil­ity. We have so­lu­tions that we of­fer not just for the Kuwaiti gov­ern­ment, but to coun­tries around the world. If they want ser­vices and ca­pa­bil­i­ties to build for their cit­i­zens, we help them. We help them in terms of plan­ning and ex­e­cu­tion - we have a whole set of peo­ple at Mi­crosoft; we have con­sult­ing ser­vices and about 200 part­ners in Kuwait. Th­ese part­ners are help­ing drive our cus­tomers and pro­vide many things. We train peo­ple to im­prove ca­pa­bil­ity and ul­ti­mately trans­fer tech­nol­ogy.

KT: How is Mi­crosoft help­ing clients ben­e­fit from cloud com­put­ing?

Na­has: Cloud com­put­ing is a very pow­er­ful tool and re­source, and it’s ac­tu­ally some­thing that we need to lever­age when we pro­vide so­lu­tions to cus­tomers. For ex­am­ple, you have a smart­phone, and the phone pro­vides you with lots of ser­vices - it pro­vides you with Face­book, email, con­tacts, weather, news, stock up­dates; you can chat with friends and ac­cess the data of com­pa­nies - all this ac­cess is en­abled be­cause of cloud com­put­ing. At the back­end of the phone, they are there be­cause of the cloud; you have ac­cess to that in­for­ma­tion be­cause of the cloud. If you don’t have cloud com­put­ing, your phone will not be able to re­ceive and send mes­sages, etc. Cloud com­put­ing is a very pow­er­ful ca­pa­bil­ity and we need to pro­vide so­lu­tions to cus­tomers.

KT: A num­ber of gov­ern­ment agen­cies in Kuwait al­ready use Mi­crosoft Azure-based of­fice plat­forms. Can you elab­o­rate on this?

Na­has: Azure is used un­der cloud offering - the ca­pa­bil­ity to have stor­age and com­puter ca­pa­bil­ity in the cloud. For ex­am­ple if you want to de­velop a new ap­pli­ca­tion for your phone, with Azure, you de­velop it on the com­puter, and cloud com­put­ing will give you a chance to con­trol your com­puter in the cloud. So, in­stead of hav­ing to buy lots of com­put­ers, if you need it, you can just use Azure; and if you are not us­ing it, you can al­low oth­ers to use it.

Azure helps you in many things - in­stead of oc­cu­py­ing ca­pac­ity in your com­puter, you can have them stored in the cloud, and give ac­cess to your employees at any place, home, mo­bile phones and in the of­fice. In Kuwait, a num­ber of gov­ern­ment agen­cies al­ready use Mi­crosoft Cloud Azure and Of­fice365 plat­forms as their of­fice col­lab­o­ra­tion and mes­sag­ing sys­tem. This step is aligned with fu­ture tech­nol­ogy trends. It came af­ter rig­or­ous due dili­gence through which the gov­ern­ment de­part­ments could as­cer­tain the ro­bust­ness and rel­e­vance of Mi­crosoft cloud offering.

KT: In gen­eral, what is the fu­ture of Mi­crosoft in the Mid­dle East and Kuwait in par­tic­u­lar?

Na­has: Mi­crosoft has gone through a lot of changes. We em­braced the cloud from day one and we are the pi­o­neers in cloud tech­nol­ogy; Mi­crosoft has be­come a place for busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties and we see where the com­pany is head­ing day by day, as what we want is to pro­vide the best ex­pe­ri­ence ever for our cus­tomers, lev­er­ag­ing the tech­nol­ogy avail­able for ev­ery­one.

Charles Na­has, Gen­eral Man­ager, Mi­crosoft Kuwait

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