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ALIBABA

SAUDI ARABIA - Telecoms & IT

Talal Albakr

CEO, SCCC Alibaba Cloud

Bio

Talal Albakr, CEO of SCCC Alibaba Cloud, has an outstanding experience in the market that exceeded 20 years in cloud, product management, ICT and sales. Talal held various leadership positions in different companies both national and international like Fujitsu, Dell EMC and solutions by stc. He previously held the roles of VP digital solutions and VP of cloud services in solutions by stc and senior B2B advisor to the Group Chief Business Officer in stc.

"We are strategically positioned to support the growth of Saudi Arabia with upcoming projects that will play pivotal roles in enabling progress, such as the Expo, World Cup, and significant gigaprojects such as NEOM and Diriyah Gate."
TBY talks to Talal Albakr, CEO of SCCC Alibaba Cloud, about gigaprojects, competition, and goals for the coming year.
How is the company positioned to capitalize on the dynamism of the Saudi economy?

We are strategically positioned to support the growth of Saudi Arabia with upcoming projects that will play pivotal roles in enabling progress, such as the Expo, World Cup, and significant gigaprojects such as NEOM and Diriyah Gate. Our involvement extends beyond being a mere cloud provider; SCCC Alibaba Cloud functions as a comprehensive service provider. Initially leveraging Alibaba Cloud’s cutting-edge technology, we have expanded our collaborations, securing agreements with SAP and other prominent global IT companies. Our primary focus is on understanding and meeting customer needs. Currently, our emphasis lies in positioning SCCC as a technology enabler, harnessing the remarkable capabilities of Alibaba Cloud. Our approach involves localizing content and development to facilitate the digital transformation of both the government, enterprise and the entire country. Recognizing the relative novelty of Chinese technology in the middle east, we prioritize fostering positive perceptions through dedicated efforts to inform and engage the market. With over 60 proof of concepts (POCs), we have demonstrated that our technology aligns, if not surpasses, global industry leaders. localization is a key element of our strategy. we are committed to ensuring data localization to harness its potential within the country, eliminating the export of data outside of the nation. This not only aligns with the concept of data sovereignty but also supports our vision of “continuous sovereignty.” It extends beyond data localization to include operations and control, ensuring a fully localized approach. This approach empowers us to exercise control over all aspects of data, processing, and management, fostering a sustainable and secure environment. Aligned with the government’s mandate to implement AI across all entities, both public and private, we actively engage with the private sector, including PIF companies, to facilitate the integration of AI. While AI is undoubtedly a trending topic, our focus is on demystifying its allure and bringing it down to practical terms. We analyze needs and wants, recognizing that many AI initiatives may lack realism due to varied data elements and execution challenges. Our role is to educate and collaborate with entities, enhancing their AI outlook. This challenging yet fascinating aspect of our work involves demonstrating how AI can transform organizations beyond the initial hype, making it an integral part of practical and achievable solutions.

How do your offerings differ from those of the competition?

We offer the conventional capabilities, including infrastructure as a service and platform as a service; however, our vision extends beyond the conventional. We aspire to introduce a software as a service approach, deviating from the norms followed by hyper-scalers. Rather than being a basic technological provider, our goal is to present customers with comprehensive solutions that address the diverse aspects of their needs. Our focus is on understanding specific software requirements, engaging with software companies, and collaborating to bring them into our ecosystem. We actively seek out technologies globally, ensuring they meet the necessary criteria, localizing them, and ultimately introducing them to the Saudi market to cater to the specific needs of entities seeking such technology.

Is there a specific sector where you see great potential for expanding your operations and cementing your presence in KSA?

We are venturing into diverse sectors, initially capitalizing on Alibaba’s prowess within financial institutions, given their ownership of Ant group (which owns Alipay) and the status of being the largest fintech fund globally. While much of their development and technology focus on fintech, we are also extending our reach into smart cities and industrialization, engaging with various partners. A notable collaboration is with SAP, a company with strengths in manufacturing and industry. Leveraging SAP’s offerings, we assess the landscape, identifying gaps, and endeavor to fill them by introducing relevant third-party products to the market.

What is your main goal for the coming year?

While we do have a financial target, it is not our primary motivation. Our driving force lies in transforming the way things are done. It is more than just using technology; it is about reengineering processes, altering perspectives, and incorporating technology in innovative ways to elevate outcomes. Our goal is no longer centered around selling products; instead, we aim to empower our customers to surpass their current offerings. We believe there is not only a financial return in this approach but also a personal reward in contributing to the advancement of the country we are dedicated to. A major challenge and our key priority involve the PR aspect, building a robust reputation in the local market. Supported by an exceptional marketing team, we have intensified our efforts, doubling down on marketing initiatives that have gained significant momentum. Notable campaigns, such as our post-launch marketing initiatives and subsequent brand dominance strategies, have significantly boosted our visibility. These efforts position us as the premier cloud provider in the kingdom, emphasizing our commitment to continuous sovereignty.. Actively participating in major events and exhibitions locally and regionally, we go beyond traditional hyper-scale approaches by fostering partnerships and adding a touch of flair. Our initial goal is to reshape perceptions. While our technology is solid, we acknowledge the influence of Americans in public relations. In contrast, the Chinese have a more reserved approach. Our strategy aims to bridge this silence and make a resounding impact, ensuring people recognize the excellence of our technology, delivering robust solutions comparable to those in the West. Our presence and operations in Saudi Arabia not only elevate the reputation of our company but also contribute to positioning the Kingdom as a noteworthy regional and international technological hub.

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