GM discusses Microsoft Kuwait’s participation in EGOV3
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