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Amir Fahim

President, Ipsos Kuwait

Mazen A. Ishbib

CEO, Hasibat Information Technologies Co.

The rapid development of technology necessitates targeted IT services for specific functions.

How have your operations advanced in recent years?

Amir Fahim Ipsos has been in Kuwait since 1997, as our second office in the MENA and GCC region, only after Lebanon. Things started to move rapidly in this region, and Ipsos made sure to be present early enough. Ipsos globally is in 88 countries with 177 offices and 16,500 employees. Our largest clients are in the banking sector, and we deal with almost all the banks in Kuwait, so we have a big market share in the financial services sector. Kuwait is considered a great place for banking research, and we do communicate our best practices to other Ipsos teams in the region. Kuwait banks are increasingly operating in the region, and have ambitions to become more international. The leap from regional to international is much larger than from local to regional, and we have the expertise to provide support for that through our global network and expertise. Kuwait’s largest banks are now investing in Turkey, Malaysia, and Egypt, and smaller banks are in Lebanon and Jordan. Secondly, we work with telecommunications companies, the obvious clients, as well as with FMCG and hospitality chains. Currently it is becoming more challenging to measure and to predict consumer behavior, which is why Ipsos continually invests in R&D to find new tools and methodologies for this. To better develop specialized research tools and methodologies that cater for different client needs, Ipsos has established six business lines specializing in specific research types.

Mazen A. Ishbib Data is everywhere now but data protection has only become more urgent with cloud technologies. Although it is a wonderful product, people do not trust their data on the cloud fully. Our task is to manage the security of data. Around 60% of our business is with the government. Kuwait has been the leader in IT in the GCC region, and the country has the ability to be frontrunner again. From Kuwait we currently serve international customers in the GCC as well as India, the US, and the UK. Due to the internationalization of business and the rapid spread of information, our customers know what is available on the market, so we need to be at the top of our game to meet demands. We differentiate from other IT companies that are box movers, primarily involved in trading hardware and software. With our outsourcing activities, we provide end-to-end IT services as system integrators, so after delivering the package, we do the implementation and offer continuous support, including a 24/7 helpdesk. Since we are strategic partners with major leading technology vendors and consultants, we can offer solutions that not only offer their current needs, but also make their investments get better ROI and make them future proof. Amongst others, we currently work with Oracle, HP, Microsoft, Dell, Fortinet, F5, Barracuda, and Nutanix. In Kuwait, we were the first large company to start complete outsourcing for IT infrastructure, and our first big project was Kuwait Airways in 2005. We recently signed a new contract; we were awarded a large infrastructure-leasing project, worth nearly USD40 million for five years, for a major oil sector company.

What services are in great demand in Kuwait?

AF The greatest demand is for pure market research and the loyalty-centric types of studies that we conduct: customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, and mystery shopping. This is the backbone of what we do in Kuwait. Occasionally, we receive requests for brand strategy and marketing reputation; however, we work on these projects usually in collaboration with well-established international firms. Our primary task is to provide market insights, and that is where our expertise lies. There is a difference between data/information and insights, and we provide the latter; the story behind the information and the figures.

MAI E-government has been the initiative of the Kuwaiti government for the past few years, but to date it has been limited to online payments and some other services. There are many opportunities for the Kuwaiti authorities to connect with its citizens through online portals, and we do not envisage any major challenges given the fact that technology is widely available and adopted amongst the GCC countries and with a generally tech-savvy Kuwaiti population. The government is definitely stepping up faster than we expected and the current administration seems to be providing enough resources financially to the ministries to solicit offers to bring the service level one or two steps higher. There is a sense of urgency there now, and it used to be more relaxed. If the ambitious plans are implemented, online services would be extended to both industries and residents.



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