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In an exclusive interview, Telecom Review spoke to Mr. Rida Mamlouk, business development consultant, Olocip to understand how his company is leveraging the power of artificial intelligence to capture new markets.

What was the company's motivation to choose AI among other emerging technologies for your line of business?

Depending on our ability to produce knowledge, the answers to current questions today alter. Because          of its speed, memory, and objectivity, artificial intelligence is accelerating this ability dramatically. We can create insights on any situation or activity relatively instantly thanks to technology.

Digitalization and digital transformation are currently fundamental processes for any organization that looks to increase its competitiveness and productivity.

However, it will be thanks to artificial intelligence that organizations of all sizes and sectors will be able to acquire current underlying information and gain unique competitive advantages for growth. Artificial intelligence is an extremely versatile technology that may be used to improve or optimize virtually any operation while also decreasing uncertainty.

How does predictive data analytics help in sports or other business areas?

Artificial intelligence is the only technology that can anticipate the circumstances to the facts themselves. At the present time, the possibility of accessing large and different sources of data, answering about the past is no longer enough.

The needs of both sport and industry lie in reducing uncertainty about future circumstances and events in order to optimise and maximise assets.

In sporting terms, AI can be implemented both in the performance or corporate area. In relation to the signing of players for example, the real needs and questions are focused on estimating the future performance of players in new and future contexts. In that way, we use AI, trained with tons of historical    data to predict the future performance of players in any context, considering new team, coach, teammates, opponents, style of play, competition, position, etc. There is a big difference between knowing the past performance of players in their previous context and getting closer to how that player will perform in his future team next season.

In terms of industry, being able to estimate the future behavior of tourists in a city, or sales forecast in a traditional bakery at a very granular level of detail allows us to optimize resources, stock and satisfy demand. These two clear examples show how predictive and prescriptive AI capacity provide unique knowledge to optimize our organization or company.

What sets Olocip apart from other players in the field of AI-enabled data analytics?

Olocip was founded with the collaboration between Esteban Granero, ex-professional football player with more  than a decade of experience in the first division, Premier League and more than 450 official match, and      Pedro Larrañaga and Choncha Bielza (both AI professors at the Polytechnical University of Madrid with more than 30 years of scientific experience) with the aim of uniting two very different worlds – football and  science.

When scaling AI projects in 2021-2022, organizations should not attempt to predict the future, but rather build for resilience. It’s impossible to predict what the future of technology will look like as it is ever evolving, so organizations need to be able to keep pace with the changes and swap in the most innovative solutions possible. This isn’t to say that organizations should drop their existing technologies whenever a new product comes to market, but rather align themselves with the products that will help them most accurately solve their bespoke business challenges and set them up for success during future periods of uncertainty.

Today, Olocip, is formed by an artificial intelligence department of international prestige with unique knowledge and capabilities in the scientific field, being able to provide new methodologies and solutions adapted to the different sectors and needs.

So, the main differential value proposal is based on the scientific knowledge and the expertise in sports and industry provided by the leading and technical team.

Please tell us about some of the current projects that you are involved in?

Currently, the transversality of the technology and the success cases allow us to expand different lines of business in different verticals and sectors. At this way, in the sports sector, we are focused on solutions and platforms in sports areas such as sports performance or injury prevention, and in corporate areas such as digital assets, sponsorship, fan engagement or ecommerce.

In the industry, this highlights our position in the implementation of AI in the tourism sector, in forecasting needs (retail, fashion, ...) or in the acceleration of startups through the implementation of AI   for the efficiency of their internal processes.

Who are your target customers and how are you catering to their requirements?

Essentially looking for sporting organizations that invest in digital transformation within their internal process is our target when looking at AI-powered sporting solutions. In most cases, we have seen a lack of understanding in the artificial intelligence range for reliability in making decisions based on objective scientific models. Many academies and professional clubs in the GCC region have a keen interest in new  technologies that can assist in scouting, performance monitoring and contextualization of various avenues, reducing uncertainty and measuring monetary value within their teams.

In addition to various sectors like tourism, financial institutions, F&B, and e-commerce, organizations that focus on enhancing their existing processes using predictive models and reliable applications can use Olocip’s AI platform to allow a transition into more efficient solutions for their business operations.

How do you acquire and retain talent in this relatively new field of technology?

Proximity to universities and exclusive agreements allow us to access talent that provides the most advanced capabilities in the field of artificial intelligence. On the other hand, the attractiveness of new emerging technologies allows us to learn about proposals for incorporation and collaboration on an ongoing basis.

What is your long-term growth outlook for AI-related activities?

With new advancements being made in the technology sector, and more specifically sophisticated applications that help many areas of business processes, the GCC have the sought-after infrastructure to support funding, development, and growth of the “4th Industrial Revolution”. Realizing the geographical reach of services correlated to B2B and B2C businesses, we can knock down boarders and  utilize the advancements. The region's yearly increase in AI contribution is projected to range between 20 and 34% each year, with the UAE leading the way, followed by Saudi Arabia.

2020 and 2021 was a year defined by uncertainty. But, as we dive into 2022, we look to gather our learnings from last year and the growing glimpses of optimism and preparedness for the future, particularly when we observe the changes 2020 ignited. When we look back on modern history, we can note a few commonalities that have activated due to Global Economic Recessions.

The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, notably, have shown a great participation in the development and deployment of AI technology. Companies in different provinces of the region have made significant investments in new technology, which has been aided by governments acting as early  adopters of the technology. Conversely, acceptance has been slower outside of the gulf economies.

Variations in implementation levels are caused by differences in infrastructure and access to skilled labor, both of which are significant motivating elements for AI development.

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, the majority of organizations have been maintaining or even increasing their investments in artificial intelligence. AI has the ability to profoundly disrupt Middle Eastern markets by enabling the development of creative new services and totally new business models. The initial wave of digitization has already had an impact. With the rise of artificial intelligence, some of the industry leaders in 10, or even five years' time, may be firms you've never heard of.

According to the recently released ‘The State of AI in the Middle East’ report, 60% of C-Suite executives in the Middle East believe that AI will be critical to the success of their business, with 55 % reporting that they have already begun AI pilot projects and 26% having AI solutions running in some parts of their business.

To put it into a monetary scale, the UAE has invested $2.15 billion in AI, while Saudi Arabia has invested $241 million. Egypt and Kuwait round out the top five nations, investing $585 million and $241 million, correspondingly.

Whether accessing the various data sources or the computational capabilities, doing so in a remote setting can be challenging. One way I look at the challenge is finding ways organizations can adapt during and after a crisis. Establishing a thoughtful approach to people, process, technology alignment and, namely, investing time in those initiatives via a collaborative data science tool (Olocip). Businesses need to be able to pivot in future times of volatility, so they’ll need to be equipped with the skills and AI systems to adapt over time.

Scaling data science and machine learning at the enterprise level should be done in a way that doesn’t put the business at risk. These practices, which Olocip provides, help organizations bridge the gap between the technical and business teams, creating transparency among both parties with regard to what models are deployed in production and what their impacts are on the business.

Change won’t happen overnight, but with the right tools, teams, and tactics, organizations will be better equipped to harness those opportunities and translate them into valuable business advantages (i.e., lower costs, increased revenue, more automated processes). It is my hope that the AI trends outlined will spur organizations into action, catalyzing enterprise-wide change and a renewed focus on collaboration, agility, and efficiency.

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