Driving Oman’s digital transformation strategy

Maqbool Al Wahaibi, CEO of Oman Data Park, talks about the company’s performance, innovative products and services as well as the company’s role in driving Oman’s digital transformation strategy

ODP has posted impressive growth in 2018. What has enabled the company to do well?

2018 was a very successful year for us. ODP posted 18 per cent annual growth, which is quite impressive in the current market situation. This significant achievement can be attributed to the company’s successful strategy of diversification by introducing innovative products and services, catering to the new requirements of the market.

We are very customer-centric and we continue to listen to the market, in order to better understand its requirements and keep abreast of the latest trends. The more we understand the demands of the market, the better we can try to meet them through innovative products and services.

This has helped us not only to satisfy our customers but also to widen our product and service portfolios significantly. We have multiple revenue streams in place, which enable us to achieve annual growth targets.

Can you talk about some of the innovative products and services ODP introduced recently?

Recently, we introduced our latest product – Nebula, Oman’s first Virtual Data Centre. Nebula permits the full spectrum of data center facilities such as computing, storage, networking and network security services. ODP provides their data centre infrastructure and facilities for rent or lease, removing the need for any OPEX costs from the customer. Hosted locally, Nebula also comes with its own state-of-the-art security services operated over Tier III data centres that ODP is known for.

Another new service was the launch of Professional-Services-as-a-Service (PSaaS), which is aimed at helping and guiding customers through their digital transformation in perpetration for the 4th industrial revolution and Gig economy. ODP has accumulated a host of expertise both in the lines of top-notch certifications and the local know-how in managing the various ICT challenges. We also have a highly qualified team of experts who have been actively engaged in managing and rolling out various business solutions such as ERP, network or storage needs. The combination of expertise and experience will ensure that our customers are served with cost-effective and agile solutions that only ODP experts are capable of providing. We understand that businesses of today have enough challenges and are focused on their growth; we would like to address their ICT challenges through our PSaaS offering so that the businesses can focus on their core services.

For example, companies who want to develop their own internal cloud, require expertise and professionals equipped with specific skillsets to implement it, as their ICT skillsets must be focussed on operations. As a company which has heavily invested on developing cloud skillsets for years, ODP has the expertise to execute those projects. The corporates may opt to buy hardware, software or licensing from anywhere they like; but they can still approach us for the services to make sure that the project is executed and maintained professionally. We offer quality professional service at a competitive rate.

We also launched our cyber security centre in February 2019, responding to a growing demand from market, especially the finance sector which is very security-conscious. The sector attaches great importance to cyber security. We have a dedicated 24/7 cyber security department capable of handling any possible security threat.

Through these products and services, we were able to win the trust and assurance of our customers from across the key economic sectors such as finance, oil and gas, utility etc.

How is Oman Data Park’s vision aligning with the Sultanate’s digital transformation strategy?

Since 2012, when Oman Data Park was established, our strategy and business plans have been very much in sync with Oman’s digital transformation journey. We have not restricted ourselves to providing collocation and hosting services, but also started developing digital portals to support e-government services.

For example, Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OOCI)’s portal is developed and hosted by ODP. This is a comprehensive portal and is integrated with multiple government entities such as ROP, various ministries, ITA and Sanad service offices. It also offers a slew of e-government services to the corporates.

Building on this expertise, we will be developing other portals soon.

We are also proud of supporting and empowering the growing FinTech industry in Oman. We have been a key enabler for some FinTech service providers in the Sultanate. For example, we hosted Tawani and supported the development of the app on various fronts, including to facilitate banking legislation. We also supported TelPay, a FinTech startup from Oman, by treating them as an SME and giving them special offers. Even the recently launched eFuloos is hosted on ODP. Therefore, whenever there is an opportunity to do and support the digital transformation of Oman, we are very much there.

What is your future outlook?

Our future outlook is very promising. Today companies are increasingly focussed on reducing their operation costs. It’s here where our opportunities lie. This is what makes our business sustainable in the long run. In the future, we will be focussing more on expanding our regional footprint. Oman Data Park’s vision is to be among the top 10 cloud providers not only in the region but also internationally, by 2025.

Do you have plans for a physical expansion?

There will be physical expansion but mostly we will concentrate on virtual expansion. This is the beauty of internet and cloud services. We can have clients from anywhere in the world while still operating out of our facilities in Oman. We already serve some international customers from Germany, South America, and Australia in addition to a couple of regional customers. Some western companies said they opted for us because we were fast, agile and very much responsive.

We need to work more to develop our own intellectual properties and strengthen our competitive edge when it comes to cloud services. That will differentiate ODP among other global players.

You forayed into Duqm by opening a data centre there. What was the response from the market?

We set up the Data Centre in Duqm in the first quarter of 2018. That data centre is very much in action. We are helping the Special Economic Zone in Duqm (SEZAD), in addition to several manufacturing companies located in Duqm as well as some investors. We consider ourselves as an enabler of growth in this fast growing logistics and manufacturing hub in Oman’s Al Wusta region. Our state-of-the-art cloud infrastructure especially our disaster recovery and financial services products will help the companies and investors in Duqm to improve the efficiency of their operations.