30 May Interview with Safa Al Salmi, General Manager, MADA
What kind of potential does quantum computing have to revolutionize global industries and what role could Oman play in building this segment?
Various quantum computing technologies are being pursued, including superconducting qubits, trapped ions and topological qubits. Each of these approaches has its advantages and challenges. Superconducting qubits have been the focus of companies such as IBM and Google and have shown promising results in terms of qubit stability and error rates. Quantum computing has the potential to revolutionize several industries, including cryptography, optimization, material science, drug discovery and artificial intelligence. For example, quantum computers could break current cryptographic methods, prompting the need for quantum-resistant cryptography. They could also greatly accelerate complex simulations and optimizations, which have applications in finance, logistics and beyond.
However, quantum computing is still in its early stages and is not widely available. Several companies and research institutions have made progress in developing quantum computers and exploring their potential applications. Some of the notable names include IBM, Rigetti Computing, IonQ, Honeywell and D-Wave Quantum Systems. The market value of the quantum computing sector is a challenging thing to pinpoint due to it being in its incipient stage. However, there are estimations that the quantum computing market could be worth several billion dollars in the coming years as it becomes more commercially viable.
Desktop quantum computing refers to the concept of having smaller and more accessible quantum computers that researchers, developers and even businesses could use without the need for highly specialized infrastructure. While this is an exciting idea, quantum computers are still complex and delicate machines that require extremely low temperatures and controlled environments to operate effectively. Achieving desktop quantum computing requires significant advancements in qubit stability, error correction and miniaturization.
The potential of Oman’s quantum computing market depends on several factors, including the country’s investments in research and development, its collaboration with international institutions and its ability to attract skilled researchers and professionals in the field. If Oman were to invest in quantum research and infrastructure, it could potentially position itself as a hub for quantum technologies in the region. Quantum computing’s applications in areas such as energy optimization, logistics and finance would greatly benefit Oman’s economy. However, building a quantum ecosystem requires substantial resources, expertise and time.
What kind of services does MADA provide for its clients?
As we navigate this journey at MADA, we are committed to pioneering solutions that empower businesses and individuals alike. Our target audience is both small and medium-sized enterprises and individuals. MADA’s mission is to transform businesses by providing innovative solutions that enhance efficiency, reduce costs and drive growth. In the rapidly evolving world of technology and innovation, the future is full of endless possibilities. Our company offers a range of services and products centered around enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. ERP systems are modular solutions designed to integrate and streamline various business processes within an organization. MADA’s ERP system is powered by Google Workspace and includes applications for human resources, accounting, production, performance management, vendor management, sales management and inventory management. These solutions help optimize resource management across departments, from raw materials for manufacturing to hiring. The company aims to revolutionize the way businesses compete and grow by providing faster, simpler and more flexible financial, supply chain and production management solutions on a global scale. MADA’s ERP systems are designed to be cost-effective and less complex compared to traditional ERP systems, allowing businesses to run more agile operations and fostering growth. MADA develops custom apps that can be tailored to specific needs.
In addition to our ERP vertical, we also offer domain management services and domain sales through a pricing agreement with GoDaddy. MADA both helps businesses establish and maintain an online presence and provides web designing, development and maintenance services. Additionally, the company sells MADA-branded computers and smart gadgets. The sale of MADA quantic computers complements our software offerings. MADA has a partnership with SpinQ that involves the purchase of the Gemini-Mini portable nuclear magnetic resonance quantum computer 2-qubit desktop. The partnership emphasizes MADA’s interest in quantum computing technology and its potential applications for enhancing business solutions.
MADA’s progress in delivering ERP solutions, expanding our business streams and partnering with SpinQ for quantum computing highlights our growth and focus on innovation. A potential hurdle for our growth could be the competitive landscape in the ERP market; there are various players offering similar solutions. Additionally, raising awareness about the benefits of our lean-based ERP system and other business streams requires strategic marketing efforts. The adoption of quantum computing technology through the partnership with SpinQ presents both opportunities and challenges in terms of market perception and integration with the company’s existing offerings.
What more needs to be done to unlock the potential of Oman’s entrepreneurs?
Oman has made large efforts to support its local small and medium-sized enterprises and entrepreneurs, including various policies and initiatives introduced by the government to facilitate their growth. These include access to funding, simplified business registration processes and incentives for local businesses. The Public Authority for SME Development (Riyada) plays a key role in coordinating these efforts. Additionally, various financial institutions and organizations provide funding opportunities and advisory services to help SMEs flourish.
There are also multiple enterprises and programs in Oman running to finance and incubate SMEs and entrepreneurs. However, such programs require seasonal assessments or pre-defined sectors of interest. Those funds-based investments such as the Oman Technology Fund and Riyada funds are unsecured loans given to SMEs. These setups create a better environment for entrepreneurs but are run differently than other players such as Abdulwahab’s Office, which approaches the market as a venture builder. Abdulwahab’s Office invests to empower entrepreneurs and ensures its companies are developed correctly with the highest possible returns on investment.
To unlock the full potential of Oman’s entrepreneurs, several steps can be considered. The first is enhanced access to funding. Providing easier access to funding, especially for early-stage startups can help entrepreneurs turn their ideas into reality. This could be done through the creation of government-backed funds, venture capital networks and angel investor communities. We also need to continue building a supportive regulatory environment. Continuously refining and simplifying business registration processes, reducing bureaucratic hurdles and ensuring a favorable regulatory environment encourages entrepreneurs to start and scale their businesses. Additionally, investing in entrepreneurship education and training programs is critical in equipping aspiring entrepreneurs with the necessary skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the competitive market. Another helpful vehicle would be the establishment of mentorship programs where experienced entrepreneurs guide and advise new startups. This will also foster networking opportunities and allow entrepreneurs to connect with potential partners, customers and investors. Oman needs to build up its infrastructure and technology and provide better access to modern infrastructure, co-working spaces and advanced technologies. Lastly, we need to increase internationalization to assist SMEs in accessing larger markets beyond Oman’s borders. It is important to note that specific needs and challenges of Oman’s entrepreneurs evolve over time; a continuous dialogue between the government, private sector and entrepreneurs is crucial to adapting and improving the ecosystem.
How would you assess the level of talent in Oman, and what efforts is the country making to upskill and educate its workforce?
Oman has made substantial investments in education and training over the years that have resulted in a reasonably educated local workforce. The country has produced professionals in various fields, including engineering, medicine, business and technology. However, like all countries there are variations in the quality and specializations across different sectors and regions. Specific gaps in Oman’s workforce vary by industry but could include areas such as advanced technical skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, specific vocational skills, soft skills such as communication and leadership and adapting to rapidly changing technologies.
Several entities play a role in building up skills across different fields in Oman, including institutions like Sultan Qaboos University, Higher College of Technology and various vocational colleges. Additionally, public sector organizations such as the Ministry of Manpower and the Public Authority for Craft Industries are actively working to improve vocational training and employability. Many private sector companies in Oman invest in training programs to upskill their employees and ensure their workforce meets the demands of their particular industry. Additionally, collaboration with international educational institutions and partnerships with foreign companies are helping bridge local gaps in skills.
How beneficial could enhanced collaboration with the US market be for Oman’s industrial ecosystem?
Collaboration between Oman and the US has been growing steadily, particularly in the technology segment. The free trade agreement signed in 2009 has facilitated trade and investment between the two countries. Oman could benefit from various areas of expertise offered by the USA. For example, the USA has a strong foundation in advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics. US expertise in cybersecurity could also help Oman enhance its digital security measures and protect critical infrastructure. Additionally, US experience in e-government services and digital transformation could help Oman modernize its public services and administrative processes. New collaborations may involve joint research projects, technology transfer and partnerships between universities, research institutions and businesses. The extent of collaboration will likely depend on the specific initiatives undertaken and the evolving needs of both markets.
There are also significant opportunities in developing Oman’s tech and quantum computing sector. Potential opportunities include investing in or partnering with quantum research centers to advance research and applications of the technology; investing in the development of quantum hardware components and devices; collaborating in developing quantum algorithms for specific applications such as optimization and cryptography; and supporting tech startups in Oman, particularly those focused on emerging technologies such as quantum computing.
What kind of priorities are required to grow technology-based SMEs such as MADA?
Forward growth requires careful planning, adaptability and a deep understanding of the market. Creating a robust growth strategy requires market analysis, a customer-centric approach and a focus on innovation, alliances, corporate social responsibility and sustainability. It is important to define a clear and compelling vision for the project’s goals, outcomes and impact and develop a roadmap that outlines the project’s milestones and key deliverables. This requires identifying potential challenges that could impact the project’s success and developing risk mitigation strategies and contingency plans. The roadmap must also include proper resource allocation to achieve project milestones within established timelines, including budget, manpower and technology. Identifying and communicating your unique value proposition is critical in setting your technology company apart from competitors.
It is also critical to stay updated with the latest technological trends and advancements relevant to one’s project. Identifying opportunities to incorporate emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, the Internet of Things and quantum computing will enhance a project’s outcome. Another critical element is building a high-performance team with diverse skills and expertise and fostering a collaborative and innovative work culture. It is important to provide leadership, mentorship and adequate resources to support the development of team members. Alternatively, it is important to develop strong relationships with all project stakeholders — including clients, partners, investors and regulatory bodies — and communicate project progress, address concerns and manage expectations. Collaboration is vital. Identifying opportunities with external partners, research institutions and technology providers can leverage expertise and resources and enhance a project’s outcomes. Additionally, evaluating opportunities for mergers or acquisitions that align with your growth strategy can be helpful; acquiring complementary businesses provides immediate market access and synergies.
Any successful project must be designed with scalability and future proofing in mind to ensure it can adapt to changing requirements and accommodate future growth. It is crucial to establish quality standards and ensure that the project’s output meets or exceeds these standards. This involves implementing rigorous testing and quality control processes to deliver a reliable and high-quality product. All projects should also align with ethical and legal standards and address concerns related to data privacy, security and social implications. This includes considering the project’s environmental impact and exploring ways to minimize its carbon footprint.