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Smart SMB Summit & Awards holds successful Bahrain edition


The inaugural Bahrain edition of Smart SMB Summit & Awards held on 23rd January at the Gulf Hotel, saw an impressive turnout of attendees, many among them senior decision makers at mid-market companies. The event’s outstanding success was a vindication of ‘Smart SMB Summit’ as an ideal platform, which is helping bring to the fore discussion on subjects of great relevance to the mid-market such as digital and business transformation as well as impact of VAT as in the context of Bahrain.

A stellar lineup of speakers, that included subject experts in their respective domains from tax to technology ensured, that the day’s keynotes and panel discussions provided many insights on topics from VAT readiness and impact to using right technologies for digital transformation.  

The day’s opening address was presented by the chief editor and publisher of Smart SMB, R. Narayan. He highlighted that holding the Bahrain edition of the summit following the earlier success of Smart SMB Summit in Dubai, emphasized the commitment of the organizers, Business Media International, to expand the platform across the region.

The Chief Guest for the summit was Dr. Abdulla Y. Al-Hawaj, Founder & Chairman of the Board, Ahlia University, who emphasized that the summit indeed served the need of the hour, offering a platform that disseminated information on Digital & Business transformation.

Samer Semaan, Distribution Manager, Gulf & UAE, Dell EMC presented the first keynote of the day and he spoke on ‘Realize Your Transformation; Simplify The Four Transformations’. Following him, Mansoor Sarwar, Director Technical Services & Pre-Sales, Sage Middle East presented his keynote on ‘Choosing the right software for digital transformation and VAT compliance’

A panel discussion on ‘Best strategic practices for streamlining growth in the VAT era’ saw some extensive insights shared by experts on stage including Gaurav Khurana, Executive Director, WTS Dhruva Consultants, Mubeen Khadir, Head of Tax, Senior Director, Trust Services, Keypoint, Philippe Norre, Partner and Head of Indirect Tax,  KPMG Bahrain and Mansoor Sarwar, Director Technical Services & Pre-Sales, Sage Middle East. 

Khalid Rashid Moh’d Jalal, Senior Group ICT Manager, GARMCO and the Vice President of the AI society of Bahrain, gave a brief address about the role of the AI society in driving AI awareness and initiatives to spearhead Bahrain’s growth as a hub for AI solutions development. 

Maheshkumar Narayan, CFO, Manara Development Co presented his keynote on ‘Implications of VAT for the mid-market growth story’, giving insightful details of how VAT works.

Veer Arjun Passi, CEO – Kalaam Telecom spoke about why the Cloud is a game changer for the SMB segment, mentioning the numerous advantages the transition to a cloud based IT consumption offers and he also  highlighted the evolution of Kalaam Telecom as a provider of managed IT services from traditional telecom services.

The last keynote of the day was was presented by Logan Simpson, Manager, Cyber Security Management Consulting, KPMG Fakhro who spoke on ‘Digital Security Roadmaps - Which strategic cyber investments reduce your digital risk’.

The Summit concluded with a panel discussion on how digital transformation can enable Businesses and organizations to enhance products and services. The panelists  included Dr. Jassim Haji, President, Artificial Intelligence Society, Samer Semaan, Distribution Manager, Gulf & UAE, Dell EMC, Hesham El Komy, Regional Vice President, Epic-or, Khalid Rashid Moh’d Jalal, Senior Group ICT Manager, GARMCO, Arpan Stephen, E-Learning Expert-Medical Education, Arabian Gulf University and Srinivasan Arumugam, Director of Commercial, Kalaam Telecom.

Ankit Shukla, MD of Business Media International, said, “We are quite pleased to see that the Summit has been received so well here in Bahrain. We are hopeful that the platform will continue to play a key role in driving awareness of technologies that enhance competencies of businesses to compete better.” 

Saumyadeep Halder, CEO of Business Media International said, “The Smart SMB Summit & Awards is a pioneering platform for engaging mid-market companies. We are thankful to the companies who collaborated with us in making it a reality.”

The sponsors for the event included Platinum sponsors- Dell EMC and Arrow, and Gold partner Sage. The Silver sponsors included Epicor  and Cork Information Technology. The Exhibition partners were Kalaam telecom, Urbansoft Technologies and Wannago. AI Society of Bahrain was also a partner for the event.

The Smart SMB Awards for digital transformation were presented following the Summit. Recognition for organizations across verticals was based on their digital transformation initiatives and enablement over the past year. 

  1. Al Salam Specialist Hospital - Best Digital Transformation Deployment in Healthcare
  2. Elite Hospitality Group - Best Digital Transformation Deployment in Hospitality
  3. Arabian Gulf University (AGU) - Best Digital Transformation Deployment in Education. 
  4. Garmco - Best Digital Transformation Deployment in Manufacturing
  5. UAE Exchange - Best Digital Transformation in Financial Services
  6. Havelock One Interiors - Best Digital Transformation in Turnkey Fitouts
  7. Dell EMC - Cloud Computing Solutions Vendor of the Year
  8. Urbansoft Technologies  - Innovative Software Solutions Provider of the Year
  9. SAGE - Best Accounting SaaS Vendor of the Year
  10. ARROW ECS - VAD of the Year with Best Digital Transformation Initiatives
  11. Kalaam Telecom - Telecom Solutions Provider of the Year
  12. WannaGo Cloud - Cloud Computing Solutions Provider of the Year
  14. Jawed Akhtar, CIO at  Ebrahim Khalil Kanoo - CIO of the Year
  15. Maheshkumar Narayan, CFO, Manara Development Co. - CFO of the Year
  16. Dr. Yousif Almas, Chief Digital Officer, Bank ABC Neobank - CDO of the Year
  17. Hasan Isam Naser Muhi, Unit Head, Information Security, Kuwait Finance House Bahrain - CISO of the Year
  18. Kanoo IT - Digital Innovations in Client Service
  19. Best Initiatives in AI Deployment - AI Society

The awards ceremony concluded with a gala dinner.


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