The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has featured a show-stopping performance by contemporary artist Neil Harbisson, the world’s first officially recognized human cyborg.
This came during the IDC Saudi Arabia CIO Summit 2022 in Riyadh, which was hosted by International Data Corporation (IDC). The event took place on September 19-20 at the Fairmont Riyadh under the theme ‘Accelerating the Journey to a Digital-First World’, and witnessed the participation of more than 400 of the Kingdom’s most influential business and technology leaders.
Harbisson is a British artist and campaigner who was born with the inability to see color. Rather than being colorblind, he perceives everything in black and white – suffering from a condition diagnosed as achromatopsia when he was a pre-teen. Growing up, he looked for different ways of relating to and ‘understanding’ color: yet it was not until Neil met cybernetics expert Adam Montandon that the possibility of ‘hearing color’ became an option. Together, the two developed what they call an ‘eyeborg’ – a device made up of a small camera and a chip on the back of his head. This device uses digital inputs to enhance his senses and allows Harbisson to ‘hear’ light waves.
Harbisson, who can see in UV thanks to an antenna-like implant in his head that boosts his perception of light and gives him super-senses, thrilled the audience with a demonstration of how he is able to “hear” color through audible vibrations in his skull.
Combining expert-led presentations, interactive panel discussions, and individual technology tracks, the IDC Saudi Arabia CIO Summit provided an unrivaled platform for thought-provoking, in-depth discussions about cutting-edge tech solutions, emerging use cases, and proven strategies for driving success in the Kingdom’s rapidly developing digital economy.
“For 12 years, the IDC Saudi Arabia CIO Summit has served as a trusted platform that connects leading ICT executives from both the private and public sectors to exchange ideas that contribute towards the growth of the Kingdom’s technology sector,” said Hamza Naqshbandi, IDC’s Associate Vice President for Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. “This year, we were especially delighted to welcome the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development as our Government Partner to highlight the ministry’s role in driving the Kingdom’s rapid transformation towards a digital economy in alignment with the goals of Vision 2030.”
The summit was opened by Steven Frantzen, IDC’s senior vice president and regional managing director for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Presenting the event’s keynote, ‘Reimagining Tech Strategies for a Digital-First World’, he urged organizations to respond to the unprecedented uncertainty of the last few years by embracing a digital-first approach to building resilience into their operations.
“The journey to the future of enterprise has accelerated, driven by significant investments in new customer experiences, evolving digital ecosystem business models, updated supply chains, and Future of Work initiatives,” said Frantzen. “All of this must be supported by resilient cloud-enabled digital applications, rapid app development, cloud platforms, data-driven and AI-enabled intelligence, and security and trust. Strong leadership, an appetite for innovation, and a sound strategy for addressing regulations will all be key to advancing the future ditechnologygenda.”
The IDC Saudi Arabia CIO Summit 2022 featured a series of expert-led panel discussions that presented first-hand guidance on how to optimally structure teams to maximize talent development, ensure best practices around vendor selection and management, and enable alignment, collaboration, and co-innovation with the digital ecosystem. Jyoti Lalchandani, IDC’s group vice president and regional managing director for the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa, also hosted a session that explored the dynamics of Saudi Arabia’s digital future, with executive insights from:
Eng. Naif Sheshah, Assistant Deputy Governor for Planning & Development and Chief Digital Officer, CITC
Yousef Alsuhaibani, CIO, Mobily
Jason Roos, CIO, King Abdullah University of Science & Technology
Ayman Alharbi, Senior Information Technology Director, The Red Sea Development Company & Amaala
This year’s installment of the IDC Saudi Arabia CIO Summit concluded on September 20 with the IDC Excellence Awards 2022, which recognized the efforts of Saudi Arabia’s leading technology executives across three categories, with the finalists and winners as follows:
CISO of the Year
Winner: Ayad (Ed) Sleiman (KAUST)
Finalists: Tom Gamali (ALJ) and Arwa Alhamad (Sanabil Investments)
CIO of the Year
Winner: Yousef A. Alsuhaibani (Mobily)
Finalists: Mohammed Saleh Alsaqer (King Khalid University) and Devender Manral (Al Othman Holding Group)
Women in Technology and Business
Winner: Maha Ibrahim Al-Qernas (Zain KSA)
Finalists: Dr. Layla Bint Hamad Abdulrahman Al-Qasem (Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah & Guidance) and Maha bint Abdullah Al Meqreni (Ministry of Human Resources & Social Development)
Aside from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, IDC’s partners for the IDC Saudi Arabia CIO Summit 2022 included: IBM as Host Partner; SITE as Game Changer Partner; Unifonic as Innovation Partner; Tech Mahindra as DX Partner; Red Hat as Smart ICT Partner; Cisco as Strategic Partner; AWS, Cloud4C, Google Cloud, Riverbed / Starlink, UiPath, Software AG, CEQUENS, and Microsoft as Summit Partners; Micro Focus, SS&C Blue Prism, Fortinet, VMware, Mendix, SBM, and AMD as Platinum Partners; Kofax, Udacity, Nexthink, Crayon, Cloudera, Snowflake, Nahil Computers / HPE, and Symphony Summit as Technology Focus Group Partners.