Some of the brightest minds in Artificial Intelligence and next-generation technology met in Islamabad earlier this month. A team from Emaar NEXT— the digital arm of Emaar Group based out of Dubai and the US — visited VisionX and PackageX HQ2 in Islamabad on a two-day visit to meet the team, discuss experiences of the future and to strengthen the existing partnership on AI and digital innovation.
Emaar, a well-known $10 billion global company based out of Dubai, UAE recognized the need for technology in diverse businesses ahead of many others in the past decade and has enabled experiences for their customers leveraging different technology solutions across various lines of businesses, including but not limited to: Properties, Malls – Dubai Mall, Hospitality – Hotels, Entertainment – Cinemas and Theme Parks, Burj-Khalifa – the tallest building in the world.
Emaar is now embarking on its next wave of business growth, backed by cutting-edge technologies and products including AI, and they have turned to VisionX for guidance and cutting-edge development.
VisionX is an upcoming and fast-growing digital innovation and AI company with headquarters in both New York City and Islamabad, Pakistan, specializing in building SaaS products and platforms that are deployed to global customers across the globe. Many of their customers are Fortune 500 companies, including WeWork, McDonald’s, Staples, Ingram Micro, Restoration Hardware and Emaar.
The series of meetings and presentations spanned two days and were attended by Emaar’s Chief Product Officer – Ivan Ramirez, Chief of Business Strategy & Analytics – Ron Mardenley, Director of Product Management – Shabib Imteyaz, and Digital Products Lead – Muhammad Kumail.
Key members of the VisionX and PackageX team hosted the guests, including its Founder & CEO – Farrukh Mahboob (based out of New York City but alternating his time between VisionX / PackageX’s two HQs) and the Managing Director – Waqas Mushtaq who leads the ground operations at HQ2 in Pakistan.
Key Highlights of the Strategic Sessions
After a tour of the state-of-the-art HQ2 facility, VisionX, and PackageX leadership, together with the product & innovation teams, shared various products, technology themes and innovation concepts they have undertaken. The key highlights of the sessions covered:
- The use of AI technologies to automate package handling, deliveries, inventory management, and asset tracking,
- The importance of 3D content and modeling to unlock the future of digital experiences,
- Applications of augmented and virtual reality – AR/VR, and
- The use of deep AI, behavioral analytics, machine and deep learning techniques to reduce the friction in customer experience practices, and
- Smart solutions powered by camera analytics and geolocation.
VisionX Moonshot Lab Lead, Talha Zareef, presented updates on inflight products for Emaar as well as the innovative use cases that will help Emaar get to a fast track business growth across all of their verticals.
Ivan Ramirez – Chief Product Officer (Emaar)
What are your plans for this partnership between Emaar and VisionX/PackageX? And how are you finding Pakistan? Is this your first time?
Ivan: I am very excited to be here. It’s my first trip to Pakistan and I love the experience, starting with an impressive airport to spending time in such a green and clean city. This visit has changed my perspective of Pakistan completely.
As for the partnership between Emaar and VisionX, I am very impressed with the level of innovation and forward-thinking. Usually, when you go tech-hubs such as Pakistan, India, Ukraine, and other countries, you go there and ask them to execute ideas that have already been introduced somewhere else in the world. Here, however, it’s a whole different mindset and approach because we’re getting a lot of ideas from VisionX on how to innovate in our business. The talent at VisionX is exceeding our expectations.
I have worked with engineering companies all over the world and have never seen the level forward-thinking and creativity I have at VisionX. We are already partnering with VisionX to deploy AI and Innovation products at Emaar. I see a lot of potential to grow and strengthen this partnership with VisionX.
What kind of technology does Emaar need?
Ivan: Emaar is not a tech company, although we deal with a lot of technology solutions to create frictionless experiences for our customers. With the pace of innovation around us, we are starting to clean up the tech complexities first, targeting table stakes. These issues are either websites or mobile apps with user experience or interface issues. So, the first thing is to fix all the experience and technology-related challenges for our customers and the company.
The second thing, which is the biggest thing that VisionX is helping us with, is the use of Computer Vision and AI to solve for receipt scanning for our Dubai Mall Loyalty Program, which is in partnership with Emirates Skywards. Next, we are starting to ideate and prototype the use of cutting-edge technologies such as 3D, AR, VR, and AI stack to know our customers better and to enable personalized experiences including selling properties and to increase the customer engagement at our malls.
It is all about integrating the right technologies with our products to achieve the highest level of customer satisfaction. The world is continually changing. Every day something new is being developed. That is why we are focusing on the future.
Farrukh Mahboob – Founder & CEO (VisionX, PackageX)
How do you plan to help streamline Emaar’s technology needs?
Farrukh: We look at Emaar as a very strategic customer. A one size fits all approach does not work anymore. Each product and capability that we build is smart and curated to meet the business goals of our specific customer. Emaar, like all forward-thinking enterprises, is looking to engage customers through the channels of their choice and to make each piece of content and engagement hyper-personalized. At the same time, business revenue must grow, and any inefficiencies that are weeded out through technological automation deliver productivity gains both at the systems and workforce level.
We aim to understand the pain points of Emaar’s business and its customer, and leverage our products, solutions and technology assets to light up customer-centric experiences and to help gain insights. Our global knowledge of various industry verticals from retail to quick-service restaurants and smart-buildings allows us to help our customers find the best technology solution.
We are working on integrating AI across each touchpoint of the customer journey and at all levels of the tech stack to create the most optimal and frictionless customer experience. For instance, if a person arrives at Dubai airport and are headed to one of the Emaar Hotels, our AI can understand each touchpoint of the guest’s journey from the airport to triangulate the estimated arrival time at the hotel, self-service check-in through the app, and ensuring that the guest’s room is ready with their preferred room temperature and other personal preferences. “AI” is used as a buzzword across the industry, but its real applications are not thoroughly understood, and we are working with Emaar to deploy it in the most logical and impactful way.
Are you proud of having an international company like Emaar coming to Pakistan for digital and cutting-edge solutions?
Farrukh: Yes, we are very proud. Emaar’s digital team’s visit attests to the great work we are doing at VisionX and PackageX. It is not only motivating for each one of us at the company as individuals, but it helps put Pakistan on the radar for anything AI and innovation. I am a big advocate of borderless innovation in the US and at the international level – it is happening now.
Pakistan must rise to the level of most preferred technology and innovation hubs in the world. We should not be looked at another offshore operation, and that’s the word I want to be erased from everyone’s vocabulary. It does require effort at various levels in Pakistan, and each technology and software company owner and founder must think different, uplift the great talent by giving them opportunities to grow at the national and international level and prepare ourselves for a much brighter future – it’s all up to each one of us.