With DataRobot Partnership, e& Moves Forward with Its Strategy to Reform into a Tech Company

I. Patel

Summary Bullets:

• The deal with DataRobot is the first major announcement after Etisalat Digital rebranded to e& enterprise.

• The AI-as-a-Service (AIaaS) solution targets customers in a variety of verticals, which will help e& achieve organic revenue growth and refashion itself from a telco into a tech company.

e& enterprise, part of e& (previously branded Etisalat Group), entered into a three-year partnership with US AI platform provider DataRobot, to launch enterprise AlaaS. DataRobot will enable e& enterprise customers to leverage AIaaS for deploying AI and ML solutions at scale without the need for deep data science expertise. AIaaS enables organizations to build and deploy AI solutions more quickly and at a lower cost compared to initiatives that rely primarily on in-house resources, thus accelerating ‘time-to-value.’ Customers of e& enterprise will be able to adopt the AIaaS offering, powered by a locally deployed DataRobot platform.

Out of e&’s 16 markets, the group is offering DataRobot’s AI solution in three countries: its home market of the UAE, and Egypt and Morocco, both of which are ideal growth markets for next-gen enterprise services. Key vertical industries in the UAE, Egypt, and Morocco ripe for AI innovation include energy, construction, healthcare, and the public sector. DataRobot has vertical-industry specific offerings that will suit customers in these industries.

Although Etisalat Digital was launched in 2015, the deal with DataRobot – on the back of the rebrand to e& enterprise – is a statement signaling its shift to enterprise services. e& is seeking to emulate technology companies that are reaping the benefits of a digitized world. The company has identified enterprise services as a potentially lucrative area to help offset losses in its legacy telco unit. e& already has leading customer base shares in the majority of its markets, and organic revenues from legacy telco services are limited.

This partnership is a mutually beneficial arrangement. For DataRobot, this deal provides a foothold in key Middle East & Africa (MEA) markets. For e& enterprise, it makes the company a more attractive partner for organizations seeking to accelerate their digital modernization initiatives through AI adoption. The partnership with DataRobot is part of a continuing shift in its corporate strategy. e& underwent a restructuring this February, effectively splitting its enterprise tech business from its telco division. e& is ultimately seeking to rebrand itself from a telecoms service provider to a technology solutions enabler. At a time when AI is top-of-mind for many enterprise leaders, offering these tools to its MEA customers will be a crucial differentiator for e& enterprise.

e& is not the only telecom service provider looking to help customers better leverage their wealth of structured and unstructured data. Several others are also augmenting their advanced analytics portfolio with data management and AI solutions. Orange Business Services has created a data and analytics business unit dedicated to helping customers generate insights from their data. Telefonica Tech was formed to offer enterprises solutions that incorporate cloud, security, IoT, big data, and analytics. It partnered with Canada’s C2RO, a provider of computer vision solutions, to offer an AI-based customer analytics solution that uses computer vision to understand the movement of people through spaces. The initiatives make sense given telecom service providers’ roles in securely collecting and transporting data; helping customers process the data to gain business insights is a natural next step in the analytics value chain.

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