Abacus Consulting runs APIthon II in Pakistan with focus on AI and API

15 May 2018 Consultancy.asia

Abacus Consulting in conjunction with its business partners has recently held Pakistan’s second APIthon event in Islamabad. The focus of the event was on enabling technology innovation in Pakistan’s telecom and financial sectors as well as in ticketing and ride-sharing.

According to Abacus Consulting, Pakistan is on the verge of a major disruption with the introduction of Industry 4.0 technologies. In Pakistan, automation is mainly associated within heavy-duty industries. However with the recent developments made in artificial intelligence (AI) and automated programming interface (API) technologies, companies who introduce new software can streamline their effectiveness and optimise productivity.

Abacus Consulting is the largest independent Pakistani consulting, technology and outsourcing firm, both in terms of revenue and staff numbers. The ex-PwC firm went out on its own in 2003 and sees itself as the leader in Pakistan’s transition to a digital economy. The firm organised the first APIthon, which was run in Lahore in January, and the second event has been held at the National Incubation Centre in Islamabad.

The winner’s title of the second chapter of APIthon was awarded to Host Inn, a hostel search and payment platform, while the runner-up prizes went to Mad Hunt, an app aimed at helping those with anxiety and depression better interact with their surrounding and social group through augmented reality, and Mera Paisa, a mobile payment platform supporting the unbanked population of Pakistan.Abacus Consulting hosts second APIthon event in Islamabad"Abacus sees its role as an enabler of the digital economy in Pakistan. We are currently working with over 600 different companies and helping them with modern technologies including AI and RPA," said Shoaib Khan, the digital transformation solutions vice-president at Abacus Consulting.

The event is an attempt to solidify robotic process automation (RPA) culture amongst the country’s businesses and to help expose businesses to industry disrupting technology. APIthon II aimed to attract start-ups and entrepreneurs with a number of incentives including mentoring both participants and competition winners.

"Among so many prizes, one is this opportunity to book a berth in the Draper University, Silicon Valley in California where the winners of the APIthon will hone their skills under the mentorship of international application developers and business leaders," said Abbas Ali Khan, Managing Director of the Abacus Consulting.

By facilitating such an event, Shoaib Khan hoped to create an environment which will facilitate digital opportunity in the country. "Let’s make sure that newcomers, who are looking to take part in the ongoing digital revolution, feel encouraged to bring their innovative ideas to the table," he said.

Pakistan’s profitably ability to adapt to rapidly changing market trends will be determined by the private sectors willingness to innovate and invest early. “We’re living in exciting times, where the Artificial Intelligence has taken over the stage and is drastically changing the way we live and work," Khan added.

Beijing and Tokyo emerge as serious tech hub rivals to Silicon Valley

12 April 2019 Consultancy.asia

As Silicon Valley struggles with a number of institutional issues, the location of the world’s top tech-hub may ultimately change – with Beijing and Tokyo emerging as serious contenders according to a survey conducted by KPMG.

Now into its seventh edition, KPMG’s Technology Industry Innovation Survey quizzed over 700 global tech executives on their thoughts on the future industry landscape – revealing that for the first time more than half of the respondents (58 percent) believe Silicon Valley will no longer be the technology innovation center of the world in just four years from now, with Beijing and Tokyo seen as two possible usurpers.

“Many factors affect a city’s perception as an innovation hub, including favorable government policies and incentives, accelerators, tech parks, corporate investment, state-of-the-art infrastructure and, in all cases, at least a few highly successful and wildly popular success stories,” said Peter Laco, an Executive Director at KPMG in Slovakia, of the previous survey.Top contenders for the next world-leading technology innovation hubWhile New York remains the most touted hot-spot among respondents, Beijing and Tokyo landed in the second and third spots as likely contenders for the global tech-hub crown, with seven Asian cities featuring among the top dozen; Shanghai (in equal 5th, but overtaken by Beijing), Taipei (in joint-5th as a notable riser), Singapore and Seoul (at 7th and 8th) and Hong Kong, which rounded out the top dozen. Shenzhen, meanwhile, has dropped outside the top 20.

With access to talent and quality infrastructure remaining key attributes for a successful hub, the report states that, despite all the positive business factors present in Silicon Valley, “an escalating cost of living, questions about diversity and corporate cultures, high business taxes, an overmatched infrastructure, and even increasing scrutiny into data privacy and other business practices are contributing to the perception that Silicon Valley may not continue to dominate.”

Still, the US (which also featured seven cities among the top 20) as a whole is still considered the country expected to produce the most disruptive technologies in the coming years, maintaining its top spot ahead of China despite a narrowing of the gap by two percentage points on last year (to 23 percent against 17 percent). The UK meanwhile has gained some separation on Japan in fourth, while Singapore, South Korea and India appear among the top ten.Countries that show the most promise for disruptive technologyTo gain further insight into the likelihood of a burgeoning tech-hub reaching the peak of the global pecking order, KPMG analysed the results of the survey against a range of other city indices, including A.T. Kearney’s 2018 Global Cities report and Mercer’s Quality of Living rankings – identifying Singapore as the most consistent Asia Pacific performer across the board, with Tokyo, Seoul, and Hong Kong lagging in a variety of areas.

“The belief that Silicon Valley will be displaced as the leading hub underscores the continuing decentralisation of technology innovation, spurred by investment in other cities and regions globally, as well as contributing factors in Silicon Valley,” says Tim Zanni, KPMG’s global technology sector leader. “Even when faced with pressing issues that call for funding, cities and countries are carving out significant investment to become a technology innovation hub due to an expected broad economic impact.”