C-suite executives from over a 100 leading UAE companies have given a resounding assertion that the digital economy is now expanding throughout the Arabian Gulf with most planning expansion of their digital footprint this year.
The assertion comes via a recent survey of 120 company Chairmen, CEOs and Presidents conducted by Cobweb Solutions UAE – the Dubai-based, Middle East arm of UK-based Cobweb, Europe’s leading managed cloud solutions provider – which is scaling up its own workforce to meet increasing regional demand for cloud solutions.
The majority (81%) of respondents, from a variety of segments including tourism, retail, finance, insurance, construction, chemicals, healthcare, automotive, real estate and marine, say they’ve definitive plans to boost their digital capabilities this year with the remainder saying they’re considering it.
The survey also reveals that 97% of respondents are fully convinced that digital assets will improve their competitiveness with only 3% having doubts.
Altaf Alimohamed, Managing Director of Cobweb Solutions UAE says the survey results present a positive outlook for the regional economy with C-suite prioritization of digital transformation strategies likely to keep Gulf companies relevant within the region and beyond.
“There’s increasing acceptance that to be successful in today’s ever-changing world, where digital innovation is disrupting how every industry operates, organizations need to become more engaged with customers, empower employees, transform products and services using digital content and optimize their business operations. This is coupled with the realization that to achieve these goals, businesses need digital transformation strategies and make better use of new cloud-based services which help fast-track the implementation and development of their plans.
“Now more than ever, IT investment has to be closely married to business processes and strategy with businesses needing ever deeper insights through intelligent reporting and analytics. The good news is that new subscription-based managed services makes these essentials available in a highly cost-effective way. They ensure management has a clear understanding of the costs and how they are spread and can budget more effectively. The company is released from the need for heavy IT infrastructure costs, is assured that it will always have the most up-to-date solutions and can move IT investment from capex to opex.”
The survey has, however, thrown up some digital transformation curve balls for the region – most specifically the lack of workforce connectivity and solid customer success experience strategies. Just over a third (34%) of respondents said their workforce were “somewhat” digitally connected; over half (53%) admitted staff connectivity “could be better” while alarmingly 13% said their staff were not digitally connected at all.
The lack of digital connectivity was further compounded by less than half the respondents (48%) having a customer success experience strategy in place. Just over a quarter (26%) admitted to having no such strategy while a further 26% said while one was in place, it was “disjointed” due to a lack of end-to-end systems.
“In an era of staff demands for flexible working and with customer experience being a deciding success factor, these gaps leave many companies exposed to more prepared competitors eating into their market share,” said Alimohamed. “These are the two crucial areas where it seems Gulf companies must do better to remain relevant in an increasingly competitive marketplace.”
Industry research is consistently there are endless benefits to ‘going digital.’ The MIT Center for Digital Business reports said businesses that do implement digital transformation strategies are 26% more profitable than their competitors.
Alimohamed said the issues can be quickly and cost-effectively addressed through bundled, subscription-based managed services which integrate best-of-breed solutions and cloud applications capable of engaging customers, empowering employees and ensuring smooth, all-round strategy implementation.
“The solutions optimize operations, help transform products and services and are robust, scalable and sufficiently flexible to meet the needs of any size company, big or small,” he said.
Alimohamed said many companies are missing out on digital transformation opportunities because their own in house IT resources are too bogged down with day-to-day requirements to focus on planning and strategy alignment while management is overwhelmed by staff training requirements.
“This is where a managed service solution comes into its own. It frees up the in-house resources, so they can focus on immediate and future business requirements while the managed service experts take responsibility for training in the applications judged most suitable for individual business needs,’” explained Alimohamed.
“The reality is that while the digital economy is obviously expanding throughout the Gulf, more needs to be done to ensure its many advantages are seized to sustainable success.”