Discovering Ahmed Elgebaly: From childhood dreams to media leadership

Adgully Middle East is proud to announce the launch of a new column, Offbeat Corner, dedicated to delving into the lives and insights of industry leaders. Our debut feature showcases Ahmed Elgebaly, Regional Head for MENA at Globale Media. In this exclusive interview, Ahmed opens up about his childhood career aspirations, life lessons learned, favorite books, noteworthy accomplishments, and more. Dive into the fascinating world of Ahmed Elgebaly and gain valuable insights into his journey.As a child, what career did you aspire to pursue when you grew up?Growing up, I’ve always wanted to be an athlete. I have always loved physical activity, and the competitive nature of sports. Sports impart valuable life lessons, like teamwork and discipline which shape up your personality at a very young age. Though you may underestimate its importance now, you'll come to understand its true value as you grow up.What has been the biggest life lesson?Life lessons are different for each individual. For me, I think learning from challenges and adapting to life every day are the big lessons. It’s part of the learning curve which enhances individual development but also helps me work effectively.What sparks your enthusiasm for the media?My enthusiasm probably stems from the fact that the media serves as a powerful tool for communication, and expression. It has the power to inform, educate, and connect the world, impacting individuals and society as a whole.If you had the opportunity to take a year-long break from work, how would you spend it?I love traveling and reading. So, I would probably spend my time on a relaxing journey all over the world. I would also like to utilize my break in learning new skills so that I don’t get rusty after such a long break.Could you suggest a must-read book for young people?My personal favorites are "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger and "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee. They both share very similar thematic elements, especially for the young audience. To Kill a Mockingbird is a classic of modern literature. Despite talking about serious issues and societal challenges like inequality, it is known for its warmth so much so that it is even taught in schools and colleges.Reflecting on your experiences, what has been your most significant and enlightening mistake, and what lessons have you gained from it?Making mistakes is very normal, but it’s crucial to reflect on them and learn from them. By embracing mistakes as opportunities for learning, we can navigate challenges and build a strong foundation.What stands out as one of your most noteworthy accomplishments?Noteworthy accomplishments can widely vary. From personal achievements to professional milestones, depending on individual goals, there are always new goals and targets to achieve in life that never end. But to bounce back from setbacks, and persevere in the face of adverse challenges is one of my most noteworthy achievements.If given the chance, whose shoes would you step into for a day?I would definitely love to step into Elon Musk’s shoes for a day. Even though he is from a different industry background that I am not even familiar with, his life story and journey is almost unbelievable. When I read his story and how he split all his resources into both SpaceX and Tesla, I can only imagine what a nightmare it must have been for him to run two companies. And he still doesn’t want to stop after having created so many successful businesses. So, I would like to take on his role for a day.

Revolutionizing retail: The silent rise of AI in e-commerce

In the bustling markets of the Middle East, a silent revolution is underway that is reshaping the landscape of retail - the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) into the operations of e-commerce platforms. As the region experiences a digital transformation, businesses are leveraging cutting-edge technologies to enhance customer experiences, optimize operations, and stay ahead in the highly competitive e-commerce space.Advanced algorithms, machine learning, and AI-driven innovations converge with the rich tapestry of Middle Eastern commerce. AI is becoming an integral part of the e-commerce ecosystem, offering a glimpse into the future of retail in the region.AI is not just a tool but a transformative force. E-commerce giants are employing AI to tailor personalized shopping experiences, predict consumer preferences, and create targeted marketing campaigns that resonate with diverse and dynamic consumer bases.Customer experienceTake the case of Kibsons, which provides fresh fruit and vegetablesin the UAE. The company has internal algorithms that have been cleverly designed to follow the learnings of our past experiences and mimic the decision-making choices of senior minds to automate our local procurement process, says Halima Jumani, CEO of Kibsons.E-commerce platforms currently leverage AI for various operations, including personalized recommendations, demand forecasting, fraud detection, and chatbots for customer support, says Ahmed Elgebaly, Regional Head of MENA, Globale Media.<img src='\94fe07f639edc89580cf648941ae8907.png' class='content_image'>He provides a detailed breakdown as follows:Personalised recommendations: AI algorithms analyze user behavior and preferences to provide personalized product recommendations, improving the overall shopping experience.Predictive analytics: E-commerce platforms use AI for demand forecasting, inventory management, and pricing optimization, helping to minimize stockouts and overstock situations.Fraud detection: AI algorithms analyze transaction patterns to identify and prevent fraudulent activities, ensuring secure online transactions.Image recognition: Visual search and image recognition technologies allow users to search for products using images, making the search process more intuitive.Customer service automation: AI helps automate customer service tasks through chatbots and virtual assistants, handling routine queries and improving response times.Supply chain optimization: AI is employed to enhance the efficiency of supply chain processes, from logistics and transportation to warehouse management.Behavioral analytics: E-commerce platforms analyze user behaviour through AI to gain insights into shopping patterns, helping them refine marketing strategies and enhance user.<img src='\81c0d7f069a20d2bae66972543c3744c.png' class='content_image'>E-commerce platforms have embraced AI in a number of ways, observes Lisa Lee, Vice President and Head of Business Development, Perfect Corp.According to her, AI solutions have simplified the process for customers to discover desired products, while also facilitating brands in effectively meeting their requirements.“One fundamental aspect of the AI revolution in e-commerce is the use of AI-powered personalised shopping experiences. One such example is our Virtual Try-On technology. This tool utilizes augmented reality to allow customers to virtually test beauty products with incredible accuracy, easing online purchasing hesitations. The technology also uses AI to determine information about users’ specific facial features and skin tone, generating personalized makeup recommendations based on their unique facial features.The AI-driven Skin Analysis and Product Recommendation tool also enhances personalization by recommending tailored skincare solutions based on individual needs and preferences by detecting the unique skincare concerns of the user’s skin,” says Lee.She adds that these AI solutions redefine beauty e-commerce, creating a harmonious blend of personalized experiences and streamlined operations for both consumers and retailers.On the motivation behind the adoption of AI in its e-commerce processes, Halima Jumani said: “The challenge is to control our costs and remain competitive on prices. The fresh produce industry is price-sensitive and prone to high food wastage. Internally designed generative AI model based on data patterns and machine learning techniques help us control our wastages much lower than industry averages.”AI enhances customer experience by analyzing user behaviour to offer personalised product recommendations, providing chatbot and virtual assistance for quick customer queries, and optimizing search algorithms for better results, says Ahmed Elgebaly.He adds that e-commerce platforms use AI to adjust prices dynamically based on various factors such as demand, competition, and customer behavior, optimizing revenue.Lisa Lee observes that the adoption of AI in e-commerce is motivated by various factors. First and foremost, she adds, it aims to improve customer engagement and satisfaction by tailoring product recommendations to individual preferences.“It also provides a competitive edge by offering superior customer service and more targeted products. Brands that have adopted AI-powered virtual try-on solutions have seen impressive benefits. In some cases even marking over 300% increases in conversions and site dwell times,” she adds.Halima Jumani says that Kibsons uses smart competitor price analysis to be able to give its customers guaranteed low prices on our platform.Customer experienceAI plays a pivotal role in elevating the customer experience on e-commerce platforms, says Lisa Lee. Personalized product recommendations make the shopping experience more enjoyable and efficient."AI-powered Virtual Try-On allows customers to preview products virtually, overcoming the limitations of online shopping while AI-driven Skin Analysis tailors product recommendations, creating a personalized skincare journey. Perfect Corp.’s AI Skin Analysis for instance, analyzes up to 14 distinct types of skin concerns, and is able to realistically simulate improvement of 9 these issues with AR technology.We also recently partnered with Unilever to create a try-on experience for their Tresseme brand. The experience used AI-Generated Content to allow users to try on a range of different highly-realistic hairstyles before committing to a specific look. This level of personalization enhances customer satisfaction, loyalty, and overall shopping experience by giving customers a unique tailored experience.Supply ChainAI plays a key role in revolutionizing supply chain management and inventory forecasting. AI transforms the landscape, ensuring efficiency and accuracy for e-commerce platforms.Halima Jumani says that 80% of their locally sourced SKUs are fulfilled by system-generated purchase orders.“This reduces considerable time spent on demand planning/ forecasting. In the fresh produce industry, excess ordering can result in wastages and conservative ordering can result in unfulfilled customer service in the form of undelivered items to customers. Our internal algorithms developed over months of planning and research help us find the right balance between food wastages and fulfillment shortages. At the same time, our inventory cycles are also carefully optimized as part of the algorithm set up, thereby reducing stock holding costs and supply chain management,” she adds.According to Ahmed Elgebaly, AI contributes to supply chain management by optimizing routes, predicting demand, and automating inventory management, leading to more efficient operations and reduced costs.“AI algorithms analyze historical sales data, market trends, and external factors to predict future demand more accurately. This helps in optimizing inventory levels and reducing the risk of overstock or stockouts. AI-driven models continuously assess inventory levels, reorder points, and lead times, enabling more efficient stock management. This prevents excess inventory and minimizes holding costs,” he adds.ChallengesWhat challenges or obstacles do e-commerce platforms face when integrating AI into their e-commerce business, and how do they address them?Ahmed Elgebaly says that challenges in integrating AI include data quality issues, resistance to change, and the need for skilled professionals.Data quality and accessibility: AI models require large amounts of high-quality data, and ensuring data accessibility and quality can be challenging. E-commerce platforms invest in data management practices, and data cleansing, and may use data augmentation techniques to enhance data quality. They also employ data governance frameworks to ensure compliance and security.Costs and ROI concerns: Implementing AI involves upfront costs, and measuring the return on investment (ROI) can be challenging.Talent and skill gaps: There is a shortage of skilled professionals with expertise in both AI and e-commerce.Ethical and privacy concerns: AI applications may raise ethical and privacy concerns, especially when dealing with customer data.Constant technological evolution: AI technologies are continually evolving, and keeping up with the latest advancements can be a challenge.Integrating AI into e-commerce has traditionally come with its set of challenges, says Lisa Lee. These included high initial development costs, aligning AI with specific business objectives, and navigating regulatory compliance.Nowadays, she adds, the bar to entry is much lower.“Perfect Corp. has broken down down many of the barriers by offering cost-effective solutions that are simple to use and easy to integrate. The AI algorithm has been put to the test in many commercial scenarios, is trusted, and has delivered results for many large global brands,” she adds.For Halima Jumani, the fresh grocery shopping patterns are complex and different to other household products in the market. For example, she adds, AI could possibly suggest a tennis ball to be bought along with a tennis racket, but we cannot presume onions will always be purchased along with potatoes.“Household fresh grocery shopping patterns are different from each other and even different from their own shopping patterns each week. For example, family members may be travelling or have preferred diet plans each week. Having said this, our internal AI team is working on data insights to understand shopping patterns, consumer profiles, frequently purchased items or weekly items missed,” she adds.<img src='\22cc6a09bd427cf45464a83f549bfed9.png' class='content_image'>Data privacyData privacy and security are crucial in e-commerce. E-commerce platforms need to ensure the protection of customer data in AI-driven processes.Data Privacy is crucial and of utmost importance at Kibsons, says Halima Jumani.“As a family business, we respect that consumer details must not be shared with any third-party service providers, and therefore we are focusing on building our own inhouse machine learning techniques,” concludes Halima.E-commerce platforms prioritize data privacy and security by implementing data encryption, access controls, and regular audits, says Ahmed Elgebaly.“Platforms use encryption techniques to secure customer data both during transmission and when stored. This helps prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information. Strict access controls are implemented to limit access to customer data only to authorized personnel. This includes role-based access, ensuring that employees have access only to the data necessary for their responsibilities. Platforms adhere to data protection regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA, or others applicable in their region. Compliance ensures that customer data is handled responsibly and by legal requirements,” he adds. Our approach to solving this problem was to develop our AI solutions as edge solutions, statesLisa Lee. This means that zero data transmission from users’ devices to the networks is required."All user data remains on the user's personal device throughout the entire experience, virtually eliminating any security issues and concerns. For a small fraction of our solutions that can’t be fully implemented as edge solutions, we ensure the full stack is in compliance / certified with GDPR, ISO27001, HIPPA standards," she concludes.Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Globale Media’s Ahmed Elgebaly on seizing MENA's digital awakening

In this exclusive interview with Adgully, Ahmed Elgebaly, the newly appointed Regional Head for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) at Globale Media, delves into his strategies for driving growth and success in the dynamic MENA market. With a background in finance and digital marketing, Ahmed's insights shed light on how he plans to leverage his expertise to capitalize on emerging opportunities, navigate challenges, and establish Globale Media as a leading network in the region. From tapping into the region's digital awakening to embracing AI-powered advancements, Ahmed offers a comprehensive perspective on building strong relationships, maintaining innovation, and fostering a positive work culture in the MENA team. Moreover, he discusses the pivotal role that artificial intelligence is set to play in the future of digital marketing across the MENA region. Excerpts:With your background in finance and digital marketing, how do you plan to leverage your expertise to drive growth and success for Globale Media in the MENA market?To drive growth for Globale Media in the MENA market, I plan on tailoring digital marketing strategies to the unique cultural and linguistic aspects of the MENA region. Leveraging AI-powered analytics can help identify trends and consumer behavior, allowing for targeted campaigns that resonate with the local audience.The MENA region is experiencing significant digital penetration. How do you envision tapping into these emerging opportunities in digital marketing, and what strategies do you plan to implement to capitalize on this trend?The MENA region is currently experiencing a digital awakening, especially in the Middle East. To tap into these emerging opportunities, we plan to invest in mobile advertising and localized content. Collaboration with local influencers and utilizing social media platforms popular in the region can prove to be very effective strategies for capitalizing on this trend.What are some of the unique challenges and opportunities that the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) market presents for a company like Globale Media?Because the MENA region has among the highest consumer digital engagement in the world, Globale Media has an opportunity to create an advantage by developing cutting-edge features and functionality tailored to consumers. The strategy is to capitalize on opportunities by building strong relationships with local partners, understanding cultural values, and ensuring compliance with local laws.The MENA market also presents particular challenges, such as diverse cultures, languages, and other regulatory challenges.As the regional head, you'll be making critical decisions for the MENA market. Could you share an example of a challenging decision you've had to complete in your career and how it ultimately benefited the organization you were working for?In terms of a challenging decision, I once had to choose between launching a new product quickly to beat the competition or refining it further for higher quality. Ultimately, we chose quality, even when it meant more time, but it eventually improved customer satisfaction and set the foundation for long-term success.Given your experience with international organizations, how do you plan to balance the global vision of Globale Media with the specific needs and nuances of the MENA region?It's part of the bigger picture. MENA's market needs to require adapting strategies and offerings to suit the local market, but also while keeping Globale Media's core values and vision intact.In your opinion, how can Globale Media establish itself as a trustworthy and leading network in the MENA region, and what steps will you take to build strong relationships with digital marketers and clients?To establish trust and build relationships, we need to prioritize transparency, deliver measurable results, and provide exceptional customer service. We need to ensure robust, regular communication and employ proper feedback loops with digital marketers and clients. When we deliver on our promise, our partners will have to keep coming back for more.The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) area, particularly Saudi Arabia, is known for its high purchasing power parity. What strategies do you have in mind to tap into this market and ensure that Globale Media's offerings resonate with the preferences and demands of consumers in this region?For the GCC market, we need to tailor offerings to match the high purchasing power by focusing on premium services, personalized experiences, and luxury branding.