Web Summit Qatar Unpacked: Insights from our CCO

Web Summit Qatar Unpacked: Insights from our CCO

March 6, 2024
Time to read: 8 minutes
Haavard Oestensen

Web Summit Qatar was the first Web Summit event in the Middle East, connecting more than 15,000 people to discuss ideas that can change the world. Featuring incredible speakers from all walks of industry, the event was a lively platform to discuss trending topics including AI-infused digital twins, energy transition and innovation.

Dive into the key takeaways from the perspective of our Chief Commercial Officer Haavard Oestensen and see how events like these are bringing industries together, encouraging investment and spreading the adoption of prime technologies like Artificial Intelligence.

As a leading technology provider to oil and gas, maritime and utilities industries, Web Summit allows us to explore exciting topics alongside our customers and key ecosystem collaborators. From topics on utilizing AI in fin-tech and retail to analyzing the spread of AI and resulting digital investments across the MENA region and beyond, it’s clear that Artificial Intelligence is now meaningfully penetrating the corporate landscape.

What’s really exciting about this is that discussions are going beyond the buzz, focusing on actual adoption and the untapped potential of this technology for industry- and even vertical-specific use cases.

At the event, I was struck by three notable observations emphasizing the rise of digital and AI as real measures to change how industries work:

1. Industries are coming together to adopt higher performance standards through AI

The AI buzz is not limited to a single industry. From an AI-powered public reporter dedicated to addressing deforestation to exploring the role AI plays in fin-tech by detecting fraud and enhancing data governance (referencing the session featuring Qatar National Bank and other major institutions), there were countless sessions focused on the power of Artificial Intelligence to scale and expand existing business and operations, as well as explore brand new applications within education, logistics, investment, cybersecurity, art, energy… the opportunities are endless.

Across these sessions, there was a red thread around the role of digital ecosystems acting as a cornerstone that sustains the growing AI trend. With co-innovative solutions that can integrate and share data flows, we have a way to leverage the true power of AI for long-term productivity gains, next-level innovation and hyperscale growth.

In a discussion ‘Navigating Large-Scale Digitisation’, Shell’s Executive Vice President Information and Digital Technology and CIO Robbert Van Rutten discussed the opportunities for optimized energy efficiency that digital transformation brings to the energy transition. Two quotes from the session that resonated deeply with me:
“To enable digital transformation at scale within Shell, we found that senior leadership commitment, strong partnerships, and a digital-first culture are key enablers.”
“Open digital eco systems, and open source are also critical as they allow for collaboration and integration across value chains supporting rapid innovation.”

2. Investor sentiment is recognizing technology - in particular, AI – as a performance booster

Web Summit Qatar saw an impressive presence from both local and international investment initiatives, with the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) alone pledging to invest more than USD 1 billion in regional and international venture capital funds. QIA has already invested in Databricks, a data and AI company unifying data, Machine Learning and analytics to help customers manage enterprise data, leveraging an ecosystem of partners that can build on the data intelligence platform with data-driven applications and use cases. Databricks is now at a USD 43 billion post-money valuation.

As AI-focused co-innovation and ecosystem collaboration at an industry level grow, we must continue to emphasize the importance of building digital ecosystems where start-ups, scale-ups and businesses with a rich history alike can survive. Agnostic software solutions that build on open standards and industry initiatives like Databricks are laying the groundwork for an inclusive, scalable future of work. We are proud to be part of the Open AI Energy Initiative alongside Databricks, C3 AI, Microsoft and Shell, developing integrated industry-specific SaaS applications to unlock the potential of data and workflows across the energy value chain.

3. As technology reaches its prime, first-mover companies are focusing on proven use cases, scaling requirements and human-centric ways of working

Application, scale and keeping the human at the center of work are the three pillars of digital transformation that put adopting companies ahead. There is a growing sentiment that in order to connect with our audience and customers, a focus on authenticity alongside automation is imperative. Businesses need to find the right use cases for AI and define the new paradigm of interaction between human and machine to build trust in digital asset ecosystems.

New ways of working with technology need to be dynamic, personalized and effective. With the right use cases in place, it becomes possible to remove the buzz and scale meaningful AI across a business, across an industry, and beyond just one industry to entire sectors that outline how our society, businesses and people will live in the future.

Shell’s session ‘Technologies to decarbonize the energy system’ showcased how the adoption of digital twin technologies in recent years has helped them gain a competitive edge, leveraging proven workflows and scaling these across a portfolio of assets while transforming the way people plan, manage and close out their daily work. Learn more about Shell’s success with digital twins

May the energetic atmosphere and encouraging stories shared at Web Summit Qatar inspire us to continue connecting, collaborating and co-innovating at an industry level to drive energy transition at scale and transform how industries work.

About the author

Web Summit Qatar Unpacked: Insights from our CCO

Haavard Oestensen

EVP & Chief Commercial Officer, Kongsberg Digital

As EVP and Chief Commercial Officer at Kongsberg Digital, Haavard Oestensen is responsible for global sales, marketing, partnerships and alliances. This includes definition and execution of the company's global commercial and go-to-market strategy. With more than 18 years of experience in the integrated gas, LNG and upstream industry, Haavard applies his industry, software and management consulting experience at the core of the energy industry to help companies activate a digital operating model and achieve a higher order of performance across their business operations.

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