Zain launches Dig­i­tal In­no­va­tion Fo­rum in Kuwait

Two-day gath­er­ing aimed at sus­tain­able and prof­itable growth

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

Zain Group, a lead­ing in­no­va­tor of mo­bile com­mu­ni­ca­tions in eight mar­kets across the Mid­dle East and Africa, an­nounces the com­mence­ment of its Dig­i­tal In­no­va­tion Fo­rum, mark­ing the first time this im­por­tant event is be­ing held in Kuwait over two days. The Fo­rum draws par­tic­i­pants from across Zain Group’s op­er­a­tional com­pa­nies, and for the first time in its four-year his­tory, draws rep­re­sen­ta­tives from INWI, Zain’s af­fil­i­ate com­pany in Morocco.

Kuwait was se­lected as the host coun­try of this year’s event not only be­cause it is the home mar­ket of Zain Group, but also be­cause of the coun­try’s ris­ing cre­den­tials in dig­i­tal in­no­va­tion, where the coun­try’s lead­er­ship has set a bold fo­cus on in­vest­ing in tech­nol­ogy for the bet­ter­ment of so­ci­ety. In ad­di­tion, highly rated dig­i­tal econ­omy events such as the MIT En­ter­prise Fo­rum Start-Up com­pe­ti­tion, Arab­net and the Tm­keen Youth Em­pow­er­ment Sym­po­sium have re­cently con­vened in Kuwait, while nu­mer­ous tech­nol­ogy star­tups in the coun­try have had out­stand­ing com­mer­cial suc­cess, gar­ner­ing in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion.

An over­rid­ing aim of the Fo­rum is for in­di­vid­ual Zain oper­at­ing com­pa­nies to be able to share their strate­gies, ex­pe­ri­ences, best prac­tices, and chal­lenges with one an­other and main­tain the cul­ture of im­prove­ment and for­ward mo­men­tum within the or­ga­ni­za­tion. Dis­cus­sions at the event re­volve around rel­e­vant in­dus­try trends in­clud­ing de­vel­op­ments with over-the-top (OTT) play­ers, e-com­merce, dig­i­tal con­tent, e-health, the need for all op­er­a­tions to mod­ify and trans­form their oper­at­ing struc­tures, and the re­quire­ment to at­tract and re­tain tal­ent who have the ca­pa­bil­ity to in­ject new ideas into the busi­ness.

The fo­rum also brought to­gether a se­lec­tion of key in­no­va­tion and strate­gic part­ners from Europe, the USA and across the Mid­dle East and Africa to ex­change views on key in­dus­try de­vel­op­ments and suc­cesses as well as to seek to forge po­ten­tial part­ner­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Zain Group CEO, Scott Ge­gen­heimer said, “We are de­lighted to have this event tak­ing place in our home mar­ket of Kuwait, given the coun­try’s en­thu­si­as­tic youth and data savvy pop­u­la­tion, many of whom are as­pir­ing dig­i­tal en­trepreneurs.

We all know how com­plex and so­phis­ti­cated the mod­ern tele­com sec­tor is to­day, and gath­er­ings such as this are in­valu­able for all our mo­bile op­er­a­tions to main­tain their com­pet­i­tive edge when it comes to tech­nol­ogy in­no­va­tion and ser­vices of­fered to cus­tomers. Con­tin­ual dig­i­tal in­no­va­tion is es­sen­tial to the sus­tain­able and prof­itable growth of Zain.”

The two-day Fo­rum will be led by Zain Group Chief Strat­egy and Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment Of­fi­cer, Emre Gurkan who com­mented, “In­no­va­tion and flex­i­bil­ity are the life-blood of mod­ern tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies with dig­i­tal dis­rup­tion of­fer­ing huge growth op­por­tu­ni­ties that will ben­e­fit many of our stake­hold­ers in­clud­ing cus­tomers. Con­tin­u­ous trans­for­ma­tion is a musthave in mod­ern busi­nesses and Zain is well on its way to trans­form­ing it­self to be­come a dig­i­tal lifestyle provider. In­puts from events such as this Fo­rum are im­per­a­tive to main­tain our course to achiev­ing this am­bi­tion.”

The Fo­rum builds on the es­tab­lish­ment of the Zain Dig­i­tal Fron­tier and In­no­va­tion (ZDFI) busi­ness unit in 2014, which is charged with launch­ing Zain into the dig­i­tal space and the view to grow­ing the com­pany through new in­no­va­tive busi­ness streams that con­trib­ute to Zain’s fi­nan­cial vi­a­bil­ity and mar­ket cap­i­tal­iza­tion. ZDFI fo­cuses on the ar­eas of in­no­va­tion; dig­i­tal ser­vices; cor­po­rate ven­tur­ing; and smart cities, with the ul­ti­mate aim of Zain be­com­ing a re­gional in­no­va­tion trend­set­ter.

The ZDFI team has been ac­tive with more than 400 new in­no­va­tive ideas be­ing ex­am­ined and the most ap­peal­ing of them ei­ther im­ple­mented by Zain across the op­er­a­tions or in the fi­nal stages of ne­go­ti­a­tion. Suc­cess­ful for­ays to date in­clude the strate­gic in­vest­ments in smart city con­sult­ing firm, neXgen and mo­bil­ity so­lu­tions de­vel­oper and con­sul­tancy firm FOO; in­vest­ments in three ven­ture cap­i­tal firms MEVP, EarlyBird and Wamda; the award-win­ning Group-wide part­ner­ship deal with Uber; the part­ner­ship with global games provider Zep­to­lab -Cut the Rope game and the part­ner­ship with Book­ The com­pany has also been a key spon­sor of the MIT Pan Arab Start Up Com­pe­ti­tion for the past two years and most re­cently spon­sored the global MIT In­no­vate for Refugees com­pe­ti­tion.

CHEN­NAI: French Min­is­ter of State for In­dus­try, Christophe Sirugue (right) views the assem­bly lines of Dat­sun Go and Re­nault Kwid dur­ing a visit to the Re­nault Nis­san Au­to­mo­tive In­dia fa­cil­ity in the south­ern city of Chen­nai yes­ter­day. — AFP

Juha Korho­nen and Emre Gurkan

A group pic­ture of Zain Dig­i­tal In­no­va­tion Fo­rum.

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