Former Director Technology Consulting Services Middle East, Africa and the Mediterranean
The world today is complex and one of its fastest-growing aspects is the volume of information. In 2001, the volume of information in the world was estimated to be about 2 zettabytes (zettabyte = one trillion gigabytes). It took humanity a few thousand years to accumulate this volume. By 2020, the total volume of information reached 79 zettabytes (40 times more) and it is estimated to double to 181 zettabytes by 2025. The information volume is doubling every three to four years. We see a massive, constant flow of new topics emerging in basically every domain of human life and activity, and an overwhelming volume of information on each of these new topics being made available. Information is presented online or in print, in different languages, at different levels of detail. The situation of most people today is an “information over-flow” rather than a lack of information. Thus, new questions become essential: how do you know if a book is worth investing in? How do you decide if the information presented is relevant to you, real and accurate?
Let me give you a few reasons why the book you hold in your hand right now, written by my former colleague Alaa Elshimy, is definitively worth reading.
First of all, the book thoroughly discusses today’s information technology, which is relevant to us all. This is technology that touches our daily lives in many ways — from placing a phone call to making a doctor’s appointment to starting your car. It is the technology that can improve our lives going forward or if misused, can alienate our lives as well. In any case, it is relevant to everyone, and the more we know about it, the better. And not only the technology itself but also how other people in the world use it to their advantage.
The second reason to study this book is the way each topic is explained. Yes, technology is complex; there are many abbreviations and technical details to be understood. Some of the books on the market today are unfortunately very difficult to follow, using various technological jargon and academic descriptions, and long convoluted sentences on hundreds of pages. My personal library contains quite a few books about technology which I never managed to read beyond the first two or three chapters, the main reason being that the text was too complex and difficult to understand. Alaa Elshimy manages to present technical complexity in a very accessible way using short sentences, clear, concise logic, and brief summaries of essential technological elements. Every hour spent digesting this book will offer you essential learnings.
Another strength of the book is the examples provided for technology deployment; case studies where technology has really made a difference, saved lives, or improved the living conditions of many people in different parts of the world. It is these examples that differentiate the book from theory published by academia or from available handbooks for technical products. With these examples, one can understand how the single technology pieces come together and how technology is being deployed to really make a difference in our lives and the world.
It’s important to note that some of Alaa’s examples come from a part of the world which, to my knowledge, has not been known as the major driver of new technology development and deployment: the Middle East and Africa. Cultural elements always play an important role in the deployment of technology. The way people communicate in day-to-day life, the way business is being conducted, what is considered “good behavior” and what is not, always plays an important role in the success or failure of technology deployment. Let me give a very simple example. There are countries where schools are strictly separate for boys and girls. Under a certain age, boys are not to send emails to girls and vice versa based on culture or tradition. Suddenly, the implementation of simple technology — email — becomes challenging. A new, surprising and scenario for a reader in the USA or Europe, where email usage does not know restrictions. The majority of avail- able technology literature on the market today details things being developed and deployed in the USA, describing systems supporting the goals of American business and society. After all, most of the technology was developed in the USA — the biggest technology corporations in the world are based there. There is some documentation about technology developed and deployed in Japan, Europe, and China. However, it is challenging to find books about technology deployment in the United Arab Emirates or Africa. And this is the gap that Alaa manages to close with his book, showing how systems work and benefit society in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, or countries in Africa like Kenia in addition to China, Europe, and the USA.
My final claim in recommending this book is that it is written by a true, hands-on technology expert and leader. In his remarkable career, Alaa has done it all: he has seen technology development with his own eyes, has worked with his hands and mind in many projects to implement technology to benefit people across numerous countries and industry sectors. From basic technology consulting to project management in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and all the way to managing a large technology business, deploying large teams of people, and essentially leading the whole technology business in the Middle East and Africa. Alaa’s skillset has also been utilised for large US-based corporations as well as China-based technology giants. There are very good reasons why Alaa was presented as one of the most successful businessmen in the Middle East by Forbes magazine a few years ago.
In short, you are looking at a book about topics relevant to you every day, one that is full of useful details and is easy to understand, with examples from parts of the world you have not yet heard about in technology books, written by a hands- on expert in the domain. What more encouragement do you need to start reading right now?
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