Digital transformation ahead for Middle East

Digital activities will create a $14 trillion growth in GDP by 2030 worldwide, says Accenture, but countries will need to take steps to get their share of the future economy

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Digital transformation ahead for Middle East Several countries in the Gulf are well positioned to take advantage of digital economies, says Daugherty.
By  Mark Sutton Published  January 17, 2016

The Middle East region is ideally positioned to take advantage of the era of digital transformation, according to a new report from Accenture.

Paul Daugherty, chief technology officer, Accenture said that research conducted by the company and the World Economic Forum predicts that digital activities will have an impact of $14 trillion dollars on global GDP by 2030, and that countries that want to take a share in that growth of GDP will need to take a number of important steps to ensure they can participate in digital economies.

“We are in the early stages of what we believe is the biggest technology revolution that we will see in our lifetime,” Daugherty said. “What we see happening in the Middle East is a ‘digital first’ approach, how companies and governments are thinking about how to apply technology to improve the way their people live and work.”

In the Middle East, the combination of the high penetration of mobile devices and the readiness of the population to adopt new technology, and the vision from government leaders and companies are all factors that will position the region to make the most of digital transformation. Initiatives such as the Dubai Open Data law would also be an important part of the digital transformation efforts, he said.

“That type of regulatory policy initiative is going to be essential to the spread of digital commerce within countries and across borders. If you look at the combination of the readiness of the population, the deployment of technologies and the vision coming from the government leaders, we believe the Middle East is positioned well in terms of being able to lead in the development of digital transformation.”

The consulting company has identified five trends in its Accenture Technology Vision 2015 report, which it says will transform the way that business and government operates.

The first trend is the personalisation of the internet into the Internet of Me, where personalised experience for the customer or citizen has become a top business priority. Customer-centric services are driving development. Almost half of all organisations in the UAE and Saudi Arabia surveyed by the report said that they are already seeing positive returns on their investments in technologies that enable this personalisation.

The next is the shift to an Outcome Economy, where the business model shifts the focus from selling things to selling results or outcomes. This focus on delivering results which are meaningful to the customer, not just selling a service, will be enabled by embedded sensors, social channels and greater connectivity to give a better understanding of the end user and whether the services provided are actually meeting their needs or not.

The Platform (R)evolution describes how digital platforms are becoming the tools of choice for building next-generation products and services, and entire ecosystems in the digital and physical worlds. In this sector, respondents believe that industry boundaries will dramatically blur as technology platforms reshape industries into more interconnected ecosystems.

The Intelligent Enterprise is making its machines smarter — embedding software intelligence into every aspect of its business to drive new levels of operational efficiency, evolution, and innovation. Software that can learn and adapt, with human-like intelligence appplied to decision-making will become commonplace. This shift to more intelligent systems is essential to cope with the volume, range and speed of generation of data that is being generated, which is proving to be a major challenge to organisations today.

The final trend, Workforce Reimagined, will see more human interaction with the intelligent enterprise. Wearable devices and smart machines are extending intelligent technology, so that human employees can interact with technology solutions to augment the workforce, improve training and operational efficiencies.

According to a survey conducted by Accenture of 200 senior decision makers in public and private sector, around half of all organisations are already spending on digital technologies, with 48% of respondents in the UAE and 53% in Saudi Arabia actively investing in this sector, , while 41% in the UAE and 43% in Saudi Arabia are assessing them.

All of the survey respondents from UAE and 97% from KSA are already using or experimenting with mobile technologies to engage with customers, employees or business partners, compared with an average of 94% in other countries.

“Now that digital has become part of the fabric of many organisations’ operating DNA, they are stretching their boundaries to leverage a broader digital ecosystem as they shape the next generation of their products, services and business models to effect change on a much broader scale,” Daugherty said. “Leading organisations in the Middle East are already planning and executing on their digital transformation goals in response to the fast-changing needs of this digitally-savvy population.”

Organisations should look to developing the ecosystems of partners and platforms for digital transformation, he said, with connection and collaboration outside the organisation becoming the norm.

Daugherty added that while many organisations will focus on cost-cutting, to truly benefit from digitsation, they should focus on innovation and growth.

Omar Boulos, regional managing director, Accenture Middle East and North Africa added: “A lot of the work we are doing with organisations here is around the digital consumer, and how they personalise the experience that people are having. So how do you improve the experience, how do you make it seamless, provide the service they need, when they need it.”

“The pace of innovation and technology adoption that is beginning to transform companies and governments across the Middle East is only going to increase,” said Boulos. “Pioneering organisations will focus on creating and becoming part of the broader digital ecosystems that now extend to customers, business partners, employees and other industries.”

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