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David Smart from Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) on IoT and more at #BIGITSG2016

Tim Gibbon (Social Media Portal (SMP)) - 20 March 2016

Big data, IT and IoT and heaps more from SAMA’s David Smart

Saudi Arabia Monetary Agency (SAMA) logoSocial Media Portal (SMP): What is your full name, job title and role (what do you do there) for Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA)?

David Smart (DS): I am the programme director for facilities & support infrastructure projects. I’m tasked with providing new office and Data Centre facilities for staff and IT systems supporting the Saudi Arabian Banking (MADA) and payments (SADAD) services for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

SMP: Briefly, tell us about SAMA
DS: SAMA, the central bank of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, was established in 1372H (1952). Please refer to the SAMA website for further information.

SMP: Who are your target audience and why?

DS: My presentation is directed to those attendees that are interested in deploying a large number of IoT devices into an office environment. This is a case study based on real world project experience.

SMP: Why are you attending BIGIT Technology Singapore 2016 and what is your session entitled?

DS: I am interested in how IoT data may be secured to enable effective collaboration in a business environment. The case study is entitled “IoT as a necessary enabler of secure digital collaboration in the Real World” that will be presented on Day 2 – Stream 2 (Smart Cities) 09:10am. The presentation will follow the development process of an IoT office solution from concept, through design of the facility and the planned IoT devices, the application of security techniques to minimise external cyber threats and on to the project implementation.

Photograph of David Smart, programme director for facilities & support infrastructure projects at Saudi Arabia Monetary Agency (SAMA)SMP: What do you expect attendees/delegates will take away from your session?

DS: IoT is not yet mature in terms of dealing with cyber threats. Anyone interested in undertaking an IoT device implementation endeavour in a commercial environment will understand an approach that can be used for project implementation, one that works.

SMP: Why is, big data, IoT and smart cities such an important issue at SAMA and for this market/region?

DS: Cyber threats are all over the news. New devices for a young and tech aware Saudi population pose a significant threat to the safety, security and privacy of information held by most companies and public sector entities. Saudi Arabia is going through a rapid growth phase, and along with that comes the technology to support that growth. It needs to be properly and securely managed.

SMP: What sort of cultural and change management issues did you encounter at SAMA and how are you addressing them?

DS: In developing the new facilities, there were two significant areas that needed to be addressed. The first is the notable differences between public and semi-private sector approaches to business development. The second is having to provide separate facilities for men and women, while maximising the benefits of collaboration for all staff.

SMP: What are the challenges that you’ve encountered regarding big data at SAMA and how are you overcoming?

DS: I have only been indirectly exposed to big data through data warehouse and analytics tools.  I have observed challenges in selecting the right tools and the slow adoption in the effective use of these tools to provide meaningful report outputs for strategic decision making.

SMP: What are the high moments of what you have been doing so far at SAMA?

DS: I have been fortunate to have been able to experience a number of exceptional periods at SAMA that include the implementation project for the SADAD EBPP (electronic bill presentment and payment) service, managing a programme of work that has led to a technology refresh of all core systems in the central bank, establishing a large Transformation Programme for staff and systems, establishing a secondary Data Centre site, managing a new Uptime Institute certified Tier IV Data Centre build, and managing the design and build projects related to our new office facilities for staff.

SMP: What impact is IoT and smart devices having SAMA and how the organisation works?

DS: The IoT implementation will transform the way that we work. From an existing regular office environment that has severe collaboration challenges, we are implementing a “Google” type office space and Innovation Centre that will positively challenge staff creativity and innovation.

SMP: What do you think is going to be the most interesting aspect regarding big data, IoT and smart cities for the next 12 to 18-months and why?

DS: Smart Cities are the embodiment of energy efficiency, and it has been proven that we need IoT devices to enforce routine to manage consumption that would otherwise be wasteful.  Big data will need to be sifted in order to find the “pearls” and to keep focus on what is really important. A recent US traffic department news report suggested that they needed more staff to enforce all of the detailed violations reported by its systems. Big data can keep us very busy if we so wish, but excellent analytics will be our saviour in delivering business focus.

Saudi Arabia Monetary Agency (SAMA) website image

SMP: What are your top five predictions for big data and business intelligence for the next 12 to 18-months and why?
DS replies with:

  • Re-evaluation of source data to provide high quality, vendor verified data – companies are merging their data with externally provided warehouse data that may be inconsistent.
  • IoT autonomy to feed data virtualisation in secure environments – work is being done to standardise the IoT environment within a secure framework.
  • Visual analytics development and products will outstrip pure printed reporting as a means for users to “read” the data – a picture is worth a thousand words.
  • The staff shortage for big data and analytics will grow – institutions will struggle to provide suitable training solutions to get the numbers up for employment in the industry.
  • Big data usurps the positions of smaller and more fundamental databases that have brought us to this point – there will be a merging into a single environment of information management, data analysis and data search capabilities in order to view the whole data rather than only working on individual and isolated data sets.

SMP: What are your top overall five big data, IoT and smart cities tips and why?

DS replies with:  
  • Choose an end-to-end IoT solution that works – experience shows that this is the right choice.
  • Apply architected solutions with security as a priority – experience shows that this is the right choice.
  • Train, train, train your staff on how to use products, services and tools – and hire people who can be trained or who already know what they are doing from the start.
  • Leave professionals to make professional decisions – everyone has an opinion, it may not necessarily be a professional one.
  • Get focus at a strategic level first – otherwise details will make your strategy whatever you want it to be.

SMP: Is there anything else we should know, or is there anything that you’d like to share?

DS: It has long been my contention that IT is, and should be, a support service for business. Sometimes business decisions can be overshadowed by IT demands that may go unchecked due to a lack of expertise in the business decision makers’ hands.

SMP: Best way to contact you and SAMA?

DS: You can contact me either via my e-Mail (, Skype (david_consult), WhatsApp (+966 56 987 5516 or +66 88 214 6274), my office number (+966 11 463 3000 Ext. 5644) or via my mobile (+966 56 987 5516). SAMA is on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter @SAMA_GOV and YouTube.

Now some questions for fun

SMP: What did you have for breakfast / lunch?

DS: Muesli with almonds, cashews, walnuts, cranberries and blueberries is an everyday joy, delicious.

SMP: What’s the last good thing that you did for someone?

DS: My wife and I took care of our friends’ 9 month-old baby while the mother was in hospital and her husband was caring for her. Baby teething at that age can be a challenge as any parent will know, my wife actually did most of the baby caring, thank you.

SMP: If you weren’t working at the SAMA what would you be doing?

DS: Writing a book (or two), building a new home, visiting with family, contemplating the universe.

SMP: When / where did you go on your last holiday and why?

At the end of January 2016, my wife and I visited the Garden Route in South Africa, with a road trip and several stopovers on the way from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town. We stayed in a place called Sedgefield, visited St Francis Bay, Tsitsikamma Forest (highest commercial bridge bungi in the world at Bloukrans River), Knysna, George, Swellendam and some gorgeous wine farms while in Cape Town. Why, because this is food for the soul, fantastic!

SMP: What’s the first thing you do when you get into the office of a morning?

DS: Clear any outstanding emails, plan the day then read up on one new idea everyday – Harvard Business Review, New York Times, TED Talks and online forums help a lot.

SMP: If you had a superpower what would it be and why?

DS: Stop dust, it seems to get in everywhere when the wind blows here in Riyadh.

BIGIT Technology Singapore 2016 #BIGITSG2016, is to be held from 22-23 March 2016 at the Marriot Singapore Tang Plaza, Singapore.

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