A comprehensive approach to IT solutions TEY_post_Bashar_Atout

We think that there is nothing to stop a Kuwaiti company from being a sizeable IT player, at least in the region.


A comprehensive approach to IT solutions

November 2, 2022

Bashar Atout, CEO of Diyar United Company, talks to The Energy Year about the company’s recent strategic focus and the importance of the energy sector to the company. Diyar United Company is a solutions provider, managed services provider and systems integrator that offers technological solutions and services to upstream and downstream operations in the Middle East.

What has the company’s strategic focus been in the past three years?
During the past three years, we’ve been expanding geographically. The company has been busy going to new markets outside our typical markets. In the past two or three years, we opened an office in Oman. At the same time, we’ve been focusing on our ability to serve the market and be more relevant to the clients of the region by providing a choice of solutions, focusing on solutions and services that help customers start and implement the digital transformation journey they need in their business.
Although we are a Kuwaiti company and Kuwait is known as an importer of IT services, we’d like to be an exporter of IT services and solutions. We’ve managed to do this in the GCC region, and we are expanding even beyond the GCC region.

How important is the energy sector for Diyar United Company?
In Kuwait, we’ve been very involved with a number of energy projects. We are mainly helping customers manage their IT solution footprint efficiently and securely. We’ve also been involved in some of the initiatives of the oil companies, especially regarding the transformation to cloud computing. We’re working closely with Microsoft as their strategic partner to help Kuwaiti energy companies such as KPC, KOC and KIPIC [Kuwait Integrated Petroleum Industries Company] go to the cloud.
There are a number of projects, and for these projects, you usually provide the necessary licensing arrangement for the customer to consume the services and you help them move and transform to the cloud setup.
We are also working with downstream companies to help them with asset management systems for predictive and corrective maintenance. We also work with customers downstream in the fuel distribution area in the construction of smart stations, smart fuelling, smart retail at the convenience store and the provision of smart solutions for the enterprise.
We recently won the bid for a new project, actually the first in Qatar, for the building of the EV [electric vehicle] charging stations which was one of the use cases in TASMU, the Qatar Digital Transformation program.


What role does Diyar United Company play in advancing Kuwait’s digital transformation?
One area is cybersecurity. Our clients depend heavily on their information assets, on the knowledge that is kept and the intelligence and assets that are kept within the IT framework. We help customers have confidence in their security.
The other area is helping our clients improve their efficiency in implementing solutions. These solutions can be seen in different ways. You have two key ways of thinking: The old-school way is developing huge transformative projects. That’s one way we can help customers. The second way of thinking focuses on agile engagement and continuous updates.
Many people are preferring the latter approach nowadays, as this approach consists of small steps that create large returns and tangible investments made in a short period of time. We help customers in both areas. Our services could be on the level of organisation-specialised applications focusing on the specific need of the client industry, the ERP [enterprise resource planning] or the applications that any organisation would need for improving productivity and efficiency at levels of workers, administration and management.

How important are technology partners for growth in the sector?
We are always keen to have the right partnership. We believe we are most effective when we combine local knowledge and local technical capability, adopt quality standards and processes as part of our DNA and work ethic and couple IT solutions that come from leading international companies. That combination provides a good and dependable solution for customers. You can deliver products successfully using that combination.

What have been the challenges of expanding geographically in the region?
Expanding has been a challenge and an opportunity. Regarding the challenge, when you go outside your comfort zone, you’re not as effective as when you’re in your country, where you have all the expertise regarding the local regulations, rules and even the mindset. There is definitely a challenge, and there is a learning curve each time we go to a new market, but we are very careful. When we pursue opportunities outside Kuwait, we focus on areas where we have substantial value to add. That substantial value that we are adding compensates for our lack of knowledge of the country, of the rules of engagement, etc.
Regarding the opportunity we have by going outside Kuwait, if you become specialised in certain domains, Kuwait is a small market to sustain such investment. We had to think about doing something we can sustain. If we want to sustain our operations based on the Kuwaiti market, we would probably be unable to sell to the Kuwaiti customer with the right quality. We would probably need to be less specialised and be more cost-effective. Going abroad gives us scale and increases our growth opportunities.

What are your key priorities for 2023?
We would like to help the energy sector in the typical areas we believe we’re good in, which is helping the energy sector manage the IT environment and IT applications. We also want to help them in their digital transformation journey by introducing new applications and new solutions, by extending or integrating the existing applications and solutions or by helping the energy sector in its cloud journey.
We have built the company strategy around being relevant to the customers. We’re not selling a product as such, although many companies in the IT industry sell a lot of hardware. We provide products as part of the solution, and we would like to continue with this strategy.
We would like to become an exporter of solutions. We think that there is nothing to stop a Kuwaiti company from being a sizeable IT player, at least in the region. This can be done by providing customers in the region the choice to work with, for example, a system integrator from the region who can help them in implementing challenging solutions.

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