The fight for enterprise IT sovereignty in 2019

Ahmed Adly, senior director at Oracle MENA.
Updated 21 January 2019

The fight for enterprise IT sovereignty in 2019

In 2018, emerging technologies such as AI, automation, data and blockchain have achieved much, but failed to win the big cash prize and become the overall winner. Which of these will become the overall champion in 2019? Ahmed Adly, senior director at cloud computing leader Oracle MENA, lists his predictions for 2019:

Stealth adoption of AI

Artificial intelligence will be key — but only if companies can tame this data athlete, and understand how to apply it within the confines of the business. With Ovum’s ICT Enterprise Insights Survey anticipating that 60 percent of organizations will have an enterprise-wide strategy for AI in 2019, we expect a lot more companies to look for practical ways to bring AI into the business; and a key path will be through having AI embedded into their applications. 

Increase in productivity

One of the key business drivers for AI adoption is its immense power to increase human productivity and business efficiency. A recent Oracle survey of international senior decision-makers showed 42 percent are already looking to AI technology to improve efficiency within their organization. Looking ahead, we predict that by 2025, the productivity gains delivered by AI and augmented experiences could be as high as 50 percent compared to today’s operations. 

Autonomous database

Gartner predicts that by 2022, 90 percent of corporate strategies will explicitly mention information as a critical enterprise asset, with analytics becoming an essential competency. As the levels of data currently at hand are too much for humans to handle, a new approach is needed. Oracle has already taken the next step in extreme automation with the Oracle Autonomous Database.

Trust in blockchain 

From being the new kid on the block, distrusted for its association with bitcoin, blockchain will not only start to become more commonplace in business, it will also become the king of transparency and trust in 2019. The technology is being used to certify the ethical production of extra virgin olive oil, for tracking solar energy usage and to bring a single source of truth into the documentation processes underpinning the global shipping industry. In 2019, we we will see it being used in even more broader contexts — from verifying the authenticity of precious stones and tracking the source of food contaminations to confirming the production of drugs in accordance with industry regulations. 


KAUST research to boost global date fruit production

Updated 16 October 2019

KAUST research to boost global date fruit production

Today on World Food Day, a team of plant scientists from King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST) has begun a major project to improve global date palm production and protection.

This project is the first time that the date palm genome has been studied so comprehensively. Dr. Ikram Blilou, professor of plant science at KAUST, and her research team in Saudi Arabia have collected samples from ancient date palms in the historical farm of Al-Dabeta, by the Quba Mosque in Madinah. 

“Our main goal is to improve date palm fruit production and quality in the Kingdom. With more than 2,000 existing varieties globally from which 400 grow in Saudi Arabia, we are concentrating on the ‘Ajwa’ date variety, because of its important societal and religious value for Saudi Arabia in particular,” said Dr. Blilou. 

Earlier this year, Dr. Blilou published in the scientific journal Plant Cell, findings that provide an insight into how desert plants are able to thrive in hostile habitats. The research teams within KAUST’s Center for Desert Agriculture are creating molecular and biotechnological tools to improve date palm agriculture by sequencing the genome of the Ajwa date palm.

“The date palm is one of the few fruit trees that, remarkably, can grow in the desert, a habitat with an arid climate where extreme temperature changes and drought conditions limit plant growth,” said Dr. Blilou. 

“Within KAUST’s Center for Desert Agriculture Research we are studying date palms using advanced genome sequencing techniques and have begun to develop new breeding strategies to help palms grow faster and healthier as well as making them more resistant to pathogens and pests like the red palm weevil.” 

According to the National Palms and Dates Center (NCPD), Saudi Arabia produces an estimated 1.1 million tons of dates per year, 15 percent of the world’s date production. In addition, export of dates from Saudi Arabia grew by 11.7 percent in 2018 compared to 2017.

“Despite this economic importance, basic research into the date palm, including understanding mechanisms of growth and adaptation to the desert environment, is still in its early stages mainly because of the lack of molecular tools and the challenging nature of the plant. It requires a long generation time for flowering which can be four to five years and setting fruits that take 10 to 15 years,” said Dr. Rod Wing, professor of plant science and director of the KAUST Center for Desert Agriculture.

The next step for researchers at this center is to work on generating high-quality genomes for a large number of other varieties of date palms, bringing further potential benefits for date palm agriculture around the world.