December 31, 2012
Message from the Founder - Q2 2013

Nearly halfway through 2013, the Apex Group is already witnessing the influence in the Middle East of exciting global trends redefining internet connectivity, productivity, entertainment, and economic growth.

In this issue of the Founder's Newsletter, I wanted to share a few of those trends shaping our region that I hope you too will find exciting.

The Internet of Things

Celebrating its 20th birthday this year, the internet has already experienced a number of evolutions from informative to transactional to mobile to social and now to industrial. For years, Cisco has been leading the conversation around the Internet of Things (IoT), or the Industrial Internet, with mind-bending statistics in this infographic, like cows generating 200 Mb of data per year for a startup in Holland, and that at the end of 2011, 20 typical households generated more traffic than the entire internet in 2008.

In the Middle East, we've started to see the initial signs of IoT flourishing as Smart Metering has enjoyed nearly 40% growth every year since 2009. As these construction developments are completed, the Middle East will leap frog much of the developed world for SmartHome and SmartGrid deployments.

In addition, the Middle East, is enabling device-to-device communication with the launch of carrier-neutral data centers like du's Datamena. Already, Apex has seen a wave of large global enterprises, service providers, and broadcasters expanding their footprint inside the Middle East to provide greater connectivity, disaster recovery, and localized delivery.

As Apex, we recognize the importance of reliable, diverse, and local connectivity. We've supported Level 3's efforts to expand their network footprint in Jeddah, Dubai and Doha. We believe that with the growth of IoT, internet connectivity will continue to matter and we'll see greater focus on the importance of network availability and security.

Online Video is the Mainstream

Heading into Ramadan next month, I'm always reminded of the remarkable press release from MBC in 2011 when they relaunched Shahid.net. I was impressed with MBC's commitment to online video and their pioneering efforts certainly attracted a major following with triple-digit growth rate YoY and multi-million monthly visits.

As I consider what lies ahead for the Middle East's online video industry, I see two major trends:

  1. Online video delivery companies will produce content bypassing traditional TV delivery
    • Amazon and Netflix have already produced over 10 original series that have attracted well-recognized Hollywood stars including Oscar Award Winner Kevin Spacey, Golden Globe Winner John Goodman, and the sarcastic, but beloved, Ricky Gervais.
    • In the near distant future, we expect to see regionally-based telcos, major studios, or OTT providers create the next video series that will circumvent the traditional TV broadcast entirely. Content remains king and MENA users are growing very comfortable with catch-up and OTT viewing.
  2. Fiber-based video transport services
    • As Middle East broadcasters roll-out more HD content and seek back up solutions for satellite contribution feeds, regional broadcasters have started adopting fiber-based video transmission services.
    • During Cabsat, we sponsored a Round Table discussing this trend and the Apex's initiatives in making Level 3's Vyvx services available to our Middle East broadcasters. For more information about Vyvx services click here.

Cyber Security: You've already been hacked

We've heard it many times before: "There are only two types of companies: those that have been hacked, and those that will be." Based on last-year's tumultuous cyber security breaches in the Middle East, the region has started preparing for imminent attacks. Frost & Sullivan reported, "overall IT spending was set to rise more than 10% while the Middle East network security market is expected to average 18% growth between 2012 and 2018."

This year, the Apex Group has become even more involved in providing solutions to these serious and complex threats. So far we've sponsored Roundtable security events in Beirut and Dubai, launched a security resource library to our website and sponsored the e-Crimes summit in Dubai this month.

Based on our experience and research, we believe these four trends will define the region's cyber security outlook:

  1. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Mobile & Cloud Collision
    • By 2014, 90% of enterprises will allow BYOD. Today only 20% have security policy and strategy in place
  2. State Sponsored Malware goes Commercial
    • Stuxnet, Gauss, Doqu, Flame for sale
  3. Security Overlay Teams Used
    • Internal teams lack expertise or exposure to scale and sophistication of attacks
  4. Phishing continues

For a deeper look at these trends, download the full presentation.

Entrepreneurism Celebrated

As an entrepreneurial company, the Apex Group has been remarkably well received in the Middle East. For that, we remain humbled and motivated to work harder. We also draw inspiration from the individualism, perseverance and optimism embodied in start-ups in our industry. In this newsletter, I wanted to draw attention to the remarkable story of Twitter's founder and chairman Jack Dorsey who has also founded a mobile payment system, Square. I believe you'll find this video profile of him a true testament to what can happen when you dream big, focus on very few things, and execute properly.

Over the past 7 years, I have seen the Middle East's apprehensive view of the capabilities of smaller companies shift toward a more welcoming and necessary view. Aside from the presence of incubators in Amman and VC funds in the Gulf, we also see indications of this embracing attitude from the composite of enterprises in the UAE. Statistics from the UAE's Ministry of Labor and Central Statistics Department show that 54% of the UAE's businesses have 25-100 employees and 45% have 0-25 employees.

Somewhere within these companies lies the next Twitter and Square. And at Apex, we'll be there to support these fellow entrepreneurs.

Respectfully,

Alex Giannikoulis
Founder & CEO
The Apex Group
Office: +1 773 782 6581

 
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