PwC and Commercial Bank of Dubai sign digital innovation deal

27 September 2018

The Middle East branch of PwC has signed an agreement with the Commercial Bank of Dubai to foster greater digital innovation at the financial services and banking provider.

With over 100 branches spread across the Emirates, and almost $20 billion is assets with a net profit of $270 million in 2017, the Commercial Bank of Dubai (CBD) is one of ten largest banks in the Emirates – and listed by industry sources as the 35th largest bank in the Persian Gulf. In addition to commercial and personal banking, CBD offers services in financing and capital solutions advisory among a range of other provisions.

Founded in 1969, and with growth last year closing in on double-digits, CBD has now tapped PwC to help carry the bank into the modern era, with the two parties signing an agreement on an innovation programme which aims to make CBD ‘default digital’. A further objective of the year-long project, along with the goal to improve efficiencies and resolve other key business issues, is to assess potential collaboration opportunities with the fintech start-up sector.

PwC Middle East Partner and Financial Services Practice Leader Mehryar Ghazali said, “Technology has become an integral part of our daily lives and our agreement with CBD comes at the perfect time when we look to foster cultural innovation and embrace technology at its best. Achieving a unique banking experience is at the core of this initiative and we at PwC are proud to be part of it; and transform the way CBD's people and its customers embrace technology.”

PwC and Commercial Bank of Dubai sign digital innovation deal

In an effort to ensure ‘exceptional customer experience’, and with a mandate to identify new opportunity areas across all areas of business, the PwC project team will evaluate start-ups in specific business areas on the basis of ‘demos’, before then moving on to develop proof of concepts for implementation. PwC will also support CBD with building, designing and operating CBD Labs – a “corporate workspace focused on building a culture of innovation, collaboration and disruption,” with their launch set for late next month.

CBD’ CEO Bernd van Linder said: “We are delighted to have PwC Middle East as our advisors to help redefine our banking processes and enhance the customer journey. Digital transformation is a strategic priority for CBD as part of its vision to be default digital. This arrangement will enable us to drive innovation and leverage cutting-edge technologies to deliver a world class customer experience across all segments including personal, corporate and commercial businesses.”

In a recent report study on the digital maturity and evolution of the banking sector in Europe and the Middle East, which examined 248 financial institutions across 38 countries, fellow Big Four firm Deloitte classified the UAE as a ‘digital latecomer’ in line with the majority of the Middle East, with Turkey the region’s only ‘digital champion’. Meanwhile, Oliver Wyman recently argued for Dubai to be established as a banking innovation hub to aid regional financial inclusion.

Construction consultancy Drees & Sommer launches innovation hub in Dubai

18 April 2019

The Middle East branch of international construction and real estate consultancy Drees & Sommer has launched a new innovation hub in Dubai

Following the appointment of ex-Ramboll exec Abdulmajid Karanouhas as its Head of Interdisciplinary Design & Innovation earlier this year to spearhead the firm’s R&D drive in the Middle East, the local branch of German-origin construction and real estate consultancy Drees & Sommer has now launched a new innovation hub in Dubai – designed as a collaborative environment to serve both external start-ups and its own employees.

“It has always been part of our corporate culture to promote our own ideas and initiatives,” said Drees & Sommer executive board member Steffen Szeidl. “Increasingly, digital transformation and our clients are calling for completely new and disruptive business models. The Innovation Centre is one of our responses to these challenges. All 3,200 staff members can upload their ideas virtually.”

According to Szeidl, from there, promising concepts and solutions addressing identified market gaps in areas such as planning, construction and operations will be developed, funded and localised for any market which sees the potential. He continues: “Adding the Dubai innovation hub emphasises our status as a global innovation company by being one of the few companies doing R&D in this region.”Construction consultancy Drees & Sommer launches innovation hub in DubaiLocally established in 2003, Drees & Sommer was founded close to 50 years ago in Stuttgart, since growing to include some 40 offices worldwide, with its global headcount of 3,200 professionals generating revenues upwards of $430 million in 2017. The firm’s offerings span the gamut of real estate and infrastructure requirements, delivered according to its ‘blue way’, which takes into account economic, functionality, and ecological aspects together.

This, for Drees & Sommer, is an important point in the regional context.  “There is a huge demand in this market for contextual solutions as most models and systems are imported from abroad with little to no adaptation to the local culture, economy, and environment,” explains Karanouh. “As a consequence of this approach, we are facing major challenges related to user-comfort, efficiency, manageability, durability, and overall sustainability and feasibility of the built environment in the region.”

Accordingly, the firm has tailored each of its innovation hubs rolled out so far across the world to drive specific initiatives. In Aachen, Germany’s ‘Silicon Valley’, for example, there is a focus on customised smart buildings, IoT product testing and cyber-security, while the firm’s Stuttgart hub focuses on start-ups and processes and its Berlin one on smart cities and smart quarters. The Netherlands hub meanwhile focuses on wellbeing and sustainable innovation.

Karanouh: “The innovation hub brings together specialists of various disciplines from across the industry as a single interdisciplinary team that advises clients from early feasibility studies all the way to operation and revitalisation of buildings to maximise comfort, efficiency, sustainability, return of investment and overall value. The platform allows for brainstorming ideas, identifying market gaps and needs, adapting existing solutions or/and developing new solutions tailored to the local market and environment.”