Technology and innovation are key areas through which, in a highly proactive fashion, we enable and advance the fulfillment of shared goals across all subsidiaries and the Group. Our role is to provides formidable support to diverse and comprehensive operational achievement, while keeping pace with global technological advances.
IT is a sector of accelerating and extensive change, and as our Group operations expanded in line with an ambitious overall strategy during 2022. We excelled in our role as a division by anticipating and meeting these demands, proactively and strategically.
The Division continued to be a key strategic partner and enabler for the success of the Group and its subsidiaries by managing a wide range of activities throughout the year. Having actively participated in the Organization’s strategy development, we understand our constantly evolving role, and have integrated a number of new initiative and goals to help us fulfill our contribution towards improving the Group operations by enhancing infrastructure capabilities and capacity.
Key initiatives of 2022:
The Post-Trade Technology Program (PTTP) Phase 1
Switching primary operations to new data center at King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD)
One of the most ambitious initiatives in terms of scale and impact carried out during 2022 was the roll-out of the Post-Trade Technology Program (PTTP), with the aim of providing a highly streamlined trading experience to all market participants. PTTP is a major and critical technology change. The new post trade infrastructure enhancements were introduced across Saudi Exchange, Muqassa, and Edaa, and was the biggest infrastructure enhancement project in the history of the Saudi capital market. The Division’s efforts ensured that the new systems successfully went live on schedule with no major issues or incidents.
We maintained uninterrupted, secure and seamless operations across the subsidiaries and the capital market throughout the project, and succeeded in out-performing our 99.99% KPI target for core systems availability, registering 100% availability across all core systems for the year 2022.
Core System Availability
Non-core System Availability
Simultaneously during 2022, the Division switched the Group’s primary Data Center to the newly established site in King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) to better utilize and benefit from the more advanced data center. The Division also held workshops to familiarize members with the new system and conducted environment and production testing to ensure market-wide readiness for the transition to new trading platform components.
Advancing the Group
IT Division contributed to the progress of the Group strategy during 2022, by providing separate business verticals and the Group a range of services and solutions.
Group HR collaborated with IT Division in 2022 to implement a number of system in line with external regulatory changes. Additionally, HR also required the Division’s assistance in implementing employee qualification and professional approval cycle configuration. Self-service enhancements were also introduced to support HR further its operational efficiencies.
All subsidiaries too, had considerable IT requirements fulfilled during 2022, resulting from the restructuring of the Group. Our web stack – previously designed for a single website – was upgraded accordingly to support five additional websites. Each website has greatly improved market-facing information and interactivity between subsidiaries and their key stakeholders.
To further improve performance, we intend to segregate some web services out of this infrastructure next year. Such segregation will improve capacity and stability and contain increased usage impacts. We are continuously reviewing capacity in all existing and projected infrastructure, ensuring systems can be scaled when necessary.
At an individual level, the Exchange underwent several enhancements across indices, reports, invoices among other processes. For Edaa, the Division upgraded reporting and invoicing capabilities, while Muqassa benefitted from the implementation of a Repo Engine and Dashboard that significantly enhanced the subsidiary’s servicing capabilities and performance. WAMID, in its initiative to introduce hosting and co-location services, was supported by the IT Division in setting up all necessary containments, and establishing the clients within our data center.
We also developed multiple web services to communicate with external government agencies including the Capital Market Authority (CMA), the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Agency (SDAIA) and the Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority (ZATCA), to ingrain a high level of compliance and transparency across our operations while advancing further efficiencies.
To achieve optimal business performance internally through the automation of our core business processes, we completed the Roadmap Assessment for our Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System, which covered Finance, Procurement and Human Resource functions. Reports on the above findings were shared with stakeholders. Additionally, the automation project scope and execution was outlined, aiming to enhance our automation level to 70% by the end
IT Efficiency, Cybersecurity and Risk Management
With cybercrime becoming one of the most disruptive threats to stock markets around the world, the Division ensures all necessary changes and controls are in place across the Group’s technology infrastructure to ensure benchmarked cybersecurity standards.
During 2022, we successfully completed compliance reviews on regulations set forth by the National Cybersecurity Authority (NCA) of Saudi Arabia:
- Compliance with Essential Cybersecurity Controls (ECC)
- Compliance with Critical Systems Cybersecurity Controls (CSCC) –extension of ECC, implemented in the form of policies, procedures and controls
We successfully passed the annual surveillance audit on ISO 20000-1:2018 for IT Service Management Systems and ISO 9001:2015 for Quality Management Systems for the year 2022, ensuring our IT systems comply with cybersecurity regulations, and are free from any vulnerabilities.
We also conducted our annual updates on Business Continuity Plans (BCPs), Business Impact Analysis (BIA) and Disaster Recovery Plans (DRPs) for critical systems for the year 2022, and successfully executed failover tests to ensure our Business Continuity, Cybersecurity and Enterprise Risk Management frameworks were resilient and future-proof for any anticipated or unprecedented threats or breaches.
We continue to enhance all relevant defensive measures. We have regulated policies and user access controls for all systems. Via sophisticated cybersecurity tools, we have close monitoring of any suspicious activity or threats potentially affecting to our systems, and regularly implement and control application or penetration tests for all IT systems.
With such comprehensive and prudently implemented controls in place, we have been able to eliminate all attempts at breaching security, demonstrating the robustness of our cybersecurity precautions. In line with our proactive approach, in conjunction with the CMA, we are now examining AI technology for market-related surveillance and reporting.
Facing the future
In terms of information sharing and value-capture, IT now has a major role in the Group’s data monetization project currently implemented by WAMID. Consolidated data will be hosted, and various reports and data related services offered. The entire technology platform is now ready for implementation.
Scale matters in all such developments and enhancements, and with the launch of the PTTP project during 2022, we have substantial headroom for growth. In 2023, we will continue all ongoing improvements across our systems, including the data center and systems migration.