Top marks for public sector IT adoption in Saudi Arabia

A recent study claims that Saudi IT investments in government and healthcare departments are resulting in significant benefits for citizens in the Kingdom, despite the limitations of existing network infrastructure and bandwidth constraints.

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By  Stuart Wilson Published  April 5, 2006

A recent study claims that Saudi IT investments in government and healthcare departments are resulting in significant benefits for citizens in the Kingdom, despite the limitations of existing network infrastructure and bandwidth constraints. The Net Impact study, which was sponsored by networking giant Cisco and under the patronage of the Ministry of Communications and IT, compared government and healthcare operations and services in Saudi Arabia to other countries in Europe and found Saudi organisations to be leading in most areas. The recently released study, which was carried out in 2005, compared the technologies present in Saudi to those found in European countries in 2004. The study discovered that technology use had helped Saudi Arabian public sector departments boost customer satisfaction by 44% in the last year. Simultaneously, the number of inquiries that employees were able to resolve climbed 38% and the number of citizens using the services went up 34% — all higher figures than those found in Europe a year earlier. The study also claimed that the Kingdom’s public sector outpaces European countries in the adoption of technologies such as content caching, IP telephony, remote disaster recovery sites and voice over IP. Saudi Arabian departments also showed strong progress in the adoption of finance and accounting applications with 95% using them, while 79% used a web interface for workforce collaboration and training. “The notably higher rates of application implementation in Saudi Arabia in 2005 compared to our research in Europe in 2004 may be due to the time lag between the studies, or the very real possibility that Saudi Arabia has leapfrogged ahead,” said Yvon Le Roux, vice president, public sector, Cisco Europe and emerging markets. “Another interesting finding is that Saudi Arabian organisations are not specifically focused on reducing costs; instead they are interested in increasing their agility and extending the resources they need to meet the demands of citizens,” continued Le Roux. The Net Impact study interviewed 38 Saudi Arabian public sector organisations, half of which were in the government sector and half in healthcare. A quarter of the organisations studied had 99% or less network availability and nearly half had bandwidth of 128Kbps or less. “This research clearly demonstrates that various public sector organisations in Saudi Arabia are advanced in many aspects of networking and technology,” said His Excellency Mohamed Jamil Al Mula, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, Saudi Arabia. “These examples of best practice are focusing on accelerating the speed at which their organisations operate and on expanding citizen-services capacity using existing resources. We must all aim to follow these examples to drive the productivity of our nation and keep on investing in our infrastructure and our citizens,” he added. Paul Mountford, president of emerging markets at Cisco, added: “Saudi Arabian connected organisations have already adopted many of the best practices identified in the 2004 study. As a result, many of the benefits of their IT investments are being realised.” “To be able to compete in the digital economy now and in the future it is imperative to invest in the business and technical skills of a nations workforce. Cisco has created e-learning programmes such as the CNAP (Cisco networking academy programme) to teach students how to design, build and maintain computer networks and the IExec business essentials course to give rising business and government leaders the knowledge and tools they need to transform their organisations,” he added. With Gitex Saudi Arabia starting on April 23rd, vendors will flock to Riyadh to target the forward-thinking public sector IT departments in the Kingdom.

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