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A group of telecommunication experts have discussed the 'challenges' and 'opportunities' in a data-driven world at the world's first ever forum on Data Management. The event was a joint-collaboration between the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) which was held in Dubai, UAE.

The unique forum was held under the slogan of 'Transforming Data into value expanding the IoT potential with a special focus on 'Smart Cities'. The event provided an opportunity for industry experts, and key-decision makers from all over the world to participate in the forum - which will be the first in a series of discussions that will be held on the topic of effectively managing, exchanging and sharing data.

One of the most interesting conferences at the event was the session on 'Challenges and Opportunities in a data-driven world'. The discussion was moderated by Toni Eid, Chief Executive Officer, Trace Media and International Editor in Chief of Telecom Review. He was joined by Ghazi Atallah (NexGen) Raphael Rollier (Swisscom) Safder Nazir (Huawei) and Nicolas Andrieu (Sigfox) whilst Telecom Italia's Roberto Gavazzi joined the session courtesy of a video link.

The session aimed to identify and discuss the technical challenges and business opportunities related to data. In addition to this, it also addresses questions related to building innovation-friendly ecosystems that incentivize private as well as public business to invest in data economy both as producers of data and as providers of data-driven services.

Ghazi Atallah, CEO, NexGen claimed his organization "we're the 'smart city' experts" - and disclosed details of the close working relationship NexGen enjoys with Smart Dubai.

He said: "I want to thank the organizers of the event for giving us the opportunity to speak. NextGen group are basically the 'Smart City' experts. We've been doing this for the last ten years - and we're very proud to be partners with Smart Dubai. My colleague Younus is the Head of the Dubai Data Establishment and he presented the Dubai Data Framework for which we were the architects. So we've spent the last couple of years working with Dubai Data Establishment and Smart Dubai to put together government frameworks, policies and the technology necessary to be able to organize the data in Dubai."

According to him, one of the most important aspects of data is changing the mindset of how we use the data that is available to us. In addition to this, he suggested that there were four different phases of data.

He added: "My presentation is about 'challenges' and 'opportunities' in a data-driven world. We've talked about 'information overload' - and all the previous speakers have talked about this - but there are lots of data out there, and huge volumes of data. At NexGen we'd like to organize the challenge presented by data by breaking it into four phases of data, which are data volume, data velocity - data in real time and data variety. Another key focus area has to be on changing the process, changing the mindset, changing the thinking about how we use data. It's going from a slow processing to real time - this is very important, we need to look at actual real time data and formulate a plan to implement how we use this data to make better decisions."

Mr. Atallah said that the data now available meant that we now possessed the ability to drive 'seamless services'.

He said: "The opportunities are there using these capabilities and solutions to actually now change the way we deliver service. Drive integration with 'seamless services' - seamless is the key word here. Seamless meaning that if I'm a user, a citizen or a customer of any company, the way that I actually consume services should be seamless to me- it should be incorporated in my day-to-day life. Now that we have all sorts of data available the ability to drive seamless services is definitely there."

Raphael Rollier, a Venture Associate at Swisscom spoke of how they were utilizing data in order to combat the issue of 'urban congestion' and said they had also identified 'seven' key success factors required in order to become a 'smart city'.

Mr. Rollier said: "In Zurich we have severe mobility problems, in fact we are in the top 10 worst cities in Europe for traffic congestion. However, with the availability of data we can now try and resolve these issues. We also identified 'seven' key success factors in becoming a smart city. The key success factor without going into each one individually is clearly technology. Everybody wants to know which technology to use. In addition to this, establishing governance model is also very important in order to enable more parties to work together in order to achieve the benefits of data sharing initiatives."

Regional Vice President, Digital Industries, Safder Nazir, Huawei Technologies, spoke during his presentation about how we needed to measure and predict the impact of on-going 'Digital Transformation'.

"We need to understand, predict and measure the impact of Digital Transformation on industry. Industry Digital Transformation is happening now, it's happening all around us. Some of the drivers behind that Digital Transformation are economic development, improving employment, improving government services and within enterprises improving the way we do business. However, are we digitally ready or not? In my opinion, part of being really 'smart' is being able to understand the resources available in the city and then subsequently bringing those resources effectively into the ecosystem to provide better services."

Nicolas Andrieu, Director of Middle East and India, Sigfox said his organization provided 'trusted' data to key players in the IoT marketplace. He said: "We need trusted data that will be used by key decision makers and smart cities. We have devices in networks everywhere that collects information from sensors - and this is critically important. However, we have billions of devices available that are talking on the networks, so those devices send data. At Sigfox we've created a paradigm to address these massive IoT challenges and we provide 'trusted' data to the major market players."

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