Dubai rapidly moving toward becoming first Blockchain powered government by 2020

Dubai rapidly moving toward becoming the world’s first blockchain powered government by 2020

Date       :   July 19th, 2017
Theme   :   The state of Blockchain in UAE

Sami Tayara, CEO, Aiqual Technology had the privilege to participate in this Blockchain event hosted by the CIOMajlis™  roundtable. Dan Frankel of Consensys was the main speaker, followed by a valuable Q&A session where the technology use cases were discussed and issues related to the technology’s maturity and resilience addressed.

It is commendable that Dubai government is leading with its vision and has set in motion concerted initiatives to make Dubai the first government to adopt Blockchain technology by 2020.

Aiqual Technology shares this vision and has launched R&D activities for VATchain™ a first VAT compliance solution that utilizes Blockchain to improve the efficiency and lower the overhead of the end-to-end VAT compliance process.

For an introduction to Blockchain technology and what it can do, we recommend watching this video by the World Economic Forum:


How to succeed in your organization’s Digital Transformation



Holistic Transformation is a Must

Success in any digital transformation journey requires adherence to a true-and-tried comprehensive methodology. As in above diagram, this topic has been widely researched and best practices abound. In a separate post, I included details of the BTM² methodology which is my preferred due to its particular applicability to digital business transformation. In this post I provide our own concise formula that represents our specialization and focus areas within the broader domain of business transformation.


AIQUAL’s Concise Digital Transformation Formula

Digital Transformation = Data Management + Smart Apps + Smart Processes™

Our mission at AIQUAL is to help organizations both public and private succeed in their digital transformation journey with our focus on data management capabilities, smart applications and smart operational processes. We believe in promoting Happiness and Sustainability: the future will be led by organizations and cities who can manage and analyze their data assets efficiently, who can build smart and trusted systems and processes for trading and transacting among their customers/citizens, ultimately resulting in happier lives and economic sustainability.

Digital transformation is not an easy feat. Recent research shows 90% of digital transformation initiatives in Europe are failing. Despite spending millions of dollars on digital transformation efforts in the past year, many organizations still think they are at significant risk of being left behind by competitors, according to a new report by independent research firm Vanson Bourne.

The study, commissioned by database platform provider Couchbase, shows that 80 percent of the 450 heads of digital transformation surveyed at enterprises in the U.S., U.K., France, and Germany in May and June 2017 think they are at risk of being left behind by digital transformation.

More than half (54 percent) think organizations that don’t keep up with digital transformation will go out of business or be absorbed by a competitor within four years. And IT leaders are also at risk, with 73 percent saying they could be fired as the result of a poorly implemented or failing digital project.

A huge majority of those surveyed (89 percent) said their industry is either being disrupted by digital technology, or such disruption is only a matter of time. The organizations have spent an average of $5.7 million on digital transformation in the past year.

Respondents overwhelmingly agree on the ultimate goal of digital transformation, with 95 percent saying it should be giving customers and end-users a truly unique experience. While 80 percent of IT leaders are under pressure to be constantly improving their organization’s customer experience through digital innovation, 90 percent of digital projects fail to meet expectations and only deliver incremental improvements.

At AIQUAL we are aware of the pitfalls and subscribe to a path that takes care of essential requirements for digital transformation success:

First requirement is to develop data management and analytics capabilities to become a data-driven organization. Why data-driven? With the increased availability of data and advanced analytics, industry leaders will be those who can improve business performance (or completely re-invent their business model) by  exploiting the latest data management technologies to gain competitive advantages. They will become masters at gathering and processing any data that impacts their operational efficiency and their ability to create high customer satisfaction.

Second requirement is to implement smart operational systems and processes that make the best use of the above analytics and insights to redesign their processes and achieve the level of performance that improves their bottom line and satisfies customers’ heightened expectations.

To learn more about how AIQUAL can empower you to succeed in your transformation journey, please contact us.

GCC Companies Advised to Prepare for VAT Compliance

CIOs’ role crucial for integration and compliance with VAT requirements

Senior tax experts have advised companies across the UAE and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to be well versed with different aspects of VAT and chalk out a clear roadmap  to ensure  timely and smooth implementation of VAT in the UAE and  across the GCC by beginning of next year.

Jeanine Daou, ME Fiscal Policies and Indirect Tax Leader and Rob Hucknall, ME Finance Consulting Partner, both from PricewaterhouseCoopers, said during a session on ‘VAT in the GCC – Recent developments’ at the recently held CIOMajlis in Dubai, that the role of technology toward ensuring a smooth implementation in the organisations is critical and hence CIOs need to be well-prepared in advance for the possible challenges ahead.

As the GCC Member states are in the process of agreeing on a common framework for the introduction of a VAT system in the GCC next year, each member state is expected to issue its own national VAT legislation based on the agreed common principles upon ratification of the GCC Treaty.

The PwC experts explained how VAT works and its impact on businesses, implementation approach and roadmap as well as VAT compliance and technology challenges.

Jeanine advised that businesses assess VAT impacts, starting by mapping  all  relevant  transactions and processes to determine VAT treatment and implications and identify changes required to cater for the new tax obligations.

Rob, in his presentation, told the CIO Majlis members that companies should design and establish an internal control system for ongoing monitoring, understand changes required to native systems such as Oracle and SAP and any separate transaction systems and assess the use of VAT determination (tax) engines.

“The IT department is the backbone of a compliant model while implementing VAT and it should consider the key areas such as tax relevant master data, tax condition rules, invoicing and documentation, intercompany transactions, reporting, maintenance of tax master data and codes,” Rob said.

For effective management of VAT and scenario planning as well as to identify capability to cater for VAT, companies need to have high level understanding of the capabilities of their existing systems such as the ERP. The process involves automated tax control framework embedded in regular business processes, and data and analytics for vendor management and fraud detection.

Abdulqader Obaid Ali, Chief Executive Officer, Smartworld, said: “Financial systems will rightfully be the focus, but getting integration right will also be important for compliance. As we understand, mapping and optimising the impacted transactions will serve as a baseline activity for every VAT implementation. It is here at the integration level that the CIOs assume importance. I therefore urge the CIOs to keep abreast of the situation for their companies to facilitate a smooth adaptation of the compliance system.”

Ahmed Al Mulla, Chairman of CIOMajlis, who is also Senior Vice President, IT, Emirates Global Aluminium, said: “There is need for accurate integration of data, audit trail information and VAT treatment between transaction systems, such as POS, procurement, and financial systems such as ERP. The role of CIOs is paramount on these fronts,” said.

The experts said PwC’s VAT implementation approach and tax and technology capabilities can help businesses reduce complexity and cost in managing VAT. Throughout the implementation, to ongoing reporting, data and analytics and compliance consultancy can support a range of client requirements, they said.



VAT Compliance in the Digital Age

The Digital Age

The global economy has entered a phase where digitalization is the new-normal and a main driver of business and GDP growth. If you are an established public or private organization in any industry, then digital is likely impacting you. Digital opens up the possibility to deliver your products and services significantly more efficiently whereby you increase citizen/customer satisfaction while reducing your operational costs.

VAT compliance – the Digital way

The introduction of VAT in the GCC means businesses have to be prepared and fully compliant, or risk revenue losses and significant penalties. Different businesses will take different approaches to compliance depending on their current digital maturity. AIQUAL sees the VAT introduction as an ideal opportunity for businesses to review their data management capabilities to:

  1. Achieve VAT compliance at the lowest cost
  2. Gain additional value through improved technical capabilities

AIQUAL will focus on innovative solutions for VAT compliance that go beyond the traditional ERP approaches. Our goal is to enable much more efficient administration of the VAT program in accordance with Smart City / Smart Nation standards, and with the use of the right mix of technologies including Big Data, AI and Blockchain. This means  benefiting both the businesses and the government by lowering costs and improving transparency and accuracy.

Are you hesitant?

Many business leaders have expressed the fear that hesitating and not leveraging digital means missing out on a big opportunity. Many also fear that a more adept digital-native new entrant may disrupt their business. VAT introduction will hasten the Sweet Spot and act as a catalyst for general digital transformation.

However, attempting to use a technology-first approach to digitalization will often lead to limited success or outright failure. Any technology transformation engagement should start with a business consultation to ensure the project is based on sound strategy and follows best practices in people, process, and technology domains. The output from such an engagement is a well defined strategic road map that takes in consideration all success factors and helps you avoid costly pitfalls.

AIQUAL provides best practices accumulated from over 20 years of experience across retail/wholesale/e-commerce and telecom industries. We invite you to engage in our forum or use our contact form to ask us any questions you have.



Smart Apps new architecture

Data management and analytics are just means to an end. The end is smart systems and processes that act on the insights the data provided to deliver your optimized products and services. This will require the use of smart applications internally to make your organization more efficient and externally at every touch-points with your customers.

New application architectures have emerged that makes it possible to build the next generation of Smart applications. On the server side, the enterprise service bus and SOA architecture have evolved into real-time big data streams, advanced analytics, micro services, and access to increasingly sophisticated APIs. So we should consider all the new possibilities as we move along the digital transformation journey.

The rewards will be many. Drastic improvements in customer satisfaction and significant reductions in costs are all achievable with a well planned and executed digital transformation program.

Importance of Data Governance

The rise in importance of data analytics as the enabler of new winning business models means we should treat data as a corporate asset. An asset that requires proper governance to both protect it and ensure its optimal utilization. In other words, data governance main mission is to ensure your data quality, security, privacy, and adequate accessibility for all business requirements. It is a fundamental cornerstone for companies that want to leverage data (the new oil) effectively and mitigate associated risks.

Several data governance frameworks are available and you will typically adopt one as your reference for best practices. External consultants such as Aiqual can play a facilitating role in putting your cross-departmental data governance plans on a fast track to success. This is achieved in 3 main ways:

  1. Leveraging best practices to produce a data governance roadmap
  2. Facilitating cross-departmental collaboration
  3. Implementing measurements then ensuring all stakeholders meet the agreed KPIs