Data science consultancy Profusion expands to Dubai as emirate works on becoming a smart city

Profusion aims to improve relationships between organisations and people through using insight compiled from data science, and this latest move will see Profusion work with Middle Eastern organisations to make best use of data collected from wearable devices and the smart cities initiative.

Mike Weston, CEO of Profusion, said: “There is a massive appetite for data science, wearable devices and smart city technology in Dubai.” He added that the gathering and analysis of data would enable these organisations to get “unparalleled insights into the behaviour of their clients and customers”. Weston believes this should result in better communication as well as improved services and greater efficiency.

In 2013 Dubai announced its intentions to become a smart city – linking the government services and the public through the use of smart devices which would be accessed freely using wireless. The following year Initiative 2021 was unveiled, a project aiming to integrate technology to improve its residents’ daily lives and help propel Dubai to the forefront of the world as one of the best-connected cities by 2017. Transparency Market Research published a report in 2014 predicting that the global smart cities market will reach an overall value of $1.265bn in 2019.

Profusion has seen an increase in demand for its data science services, with a third consecutive year of revenue growth averaging 40 per cent. For Weston, the decision to expand into Dubai as the next port of call was a “straight-forward” one. “The UAE has the perfect cocktail of a competitive business environment, an entrepreneurial mindset and a focus on investment,” he added. This is appealing to businesses like Profusion as organisations are, “much more willing to spend money on new technology and experiment with concepts like data science”.

Weston believes that Dubai’s ambitions to develop itself into a leading smart city are achievable. “It has a deep pool of tech talent, the presence of large corporations, a good geographical location – and a strong will to lead and succeed. Add to this the relative wealth of the region and few regulatory hurdles and it’s hard to see how Dubai’s tech scene won’t thrive,” he said.

The government’s support of the tech industry could also lessen the UAE’s reliance on oil revenue. Numbers from late 2014 showed that while Dubai was leading the way in diversifying revenue streams and boosting non-oil growth, oil revenues in Qatar and UAE still accounted for 60 per cent of their total revenues. In Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, this is higher still at nearly 90 per cent and 93 per cent.

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The range of services Profusion provides to clients includes using the data assembled to improve marketing campaigns, HR initiatives, business and customer intelligence and planning. “A large part of what we do involves analysing the data collected at the various points people interact with organisations,” Weston explained. The data scientists mine the information and assess how relationships can be improved, before a strategy is developed.

“This approach can cover a huge range of functions, such as revamping how a marketing team produces and distributes material, overhauling a procurement process to make it more efficient or developing a model that predicts consumer behaviour,” Weston said.

The consultancy’s clients currently include Sony Consumer Entertainment, Dixons Carphone and The Kingfisher Group. Profusion currently has around 60 members of staff spread between its offices, and is aiming to increase its London office to 80 people by the end of 2015, with 12 in Dubai.

Image: Shutterstock

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