Digital transformation, digital skills development are cornerstones for disrupting competition

More than three-quarters of the Middle East and North Africa’s digital-leading organizations will invest in Big Data and the Internet of Things in 2018, driving disruptive business competitiveness, according to a new report launched at GITEX Technology Week 2017.

The region’s digital-leading organizations have gotten off to a head start by investing in innovative products and services – especially the “Big 3” of Big Data and analytics, cloud, and Internet of Things.

Digital leaders expect 23 percent more growth by 2019, and already have 85 percent of market share and 80 percent of profitability versus competitors. However, while 84 percent of organizations say that digital transformation is critical, only three percent have completed digital transformation, according to the new SAP and Oxford Economics Digital Transformation Executive Study.

“Middle East and North Africa digital leaders have a running start in the constantly-evolving Digital Economy. This is the decisive moment for all Middle East organizations to undergo digital transformation, and harness the power of Big Data and analytics, Internet of Things, and digital skills. Middle East CIOs need to treat digital transformation as an all-encompassing and knowledge-sharing business imperative to disrupt the competitive landscape, said Gergi Abboud, Managing Director, Gulf, North Africa, Pakistan, and Levant at the digital transformation enabler SAP.

Big data and analytics as the foundation for business growth

As the Digital Economy advances, the number of connected things worldwide will more than double from 8 billion in 2017 to 20 billion in 2020, according to Gartner. Organizations see a major opportunity to analyze the data generated from these connected things for better business decisions.

In anticipation of this growth, Big Data and analytics will see the biggest investment in the Middle East and North Africa in 2018 – with 82 percent of the digital leaders investing in the field. These digital leaders will have a major competitive edge over the rest. Only 50 percent of total organizations are investing in Big Data and analytics in 2017, rising only to 68 percent in 2018.

CIOs devote greater budget to IoT

Organizations are pouring investment into the Internet of Things (IoT).IDC shows he Middle East and Africa’s IoT spend reaching $8 billion in 2017, with the global Internet of Things value topping USD $3 trillion by 2020, according to Gartner predictions.

Three-quarters, 76 percent, of Middle East and North Africa digital leaders rank the Internet of Things as an investment priority in 2017. The rest of the region lags. Only half (52 percent) of all organization view the Internet of Things as an investment priority in 2017, inching up to 55 percent in 2018.

However, digital leaders agree that Internet of Things deployments cannot be done in isolation. Organizations need to reinvent processes to become digital businesses. For example, nearly half (48 percent) of digital leaders say that responsibility for digital transformation should be with a purpose-build digital transformation group, compared to only 14 percent of the rest of the region’s respondents.

Investing in Skills and Technology

Middle East and North Africa organizations are prizing investment in innovative products and services, and are also investing in digital skills needed to optimize these solutions. Digital transformation makes it easier attract and retain talent, and helps talent stay on top of technological change.

Looking to the digital leading-organizations in the region, the majority (58 percent) say that digital skills investment is the most important profit growth driver in 2018. This outpaces the region, with one-third (34 percent) ranking digital skills investment as a growth driver next year. Digital leaders also prize increasing speed to market (48 percent) and new products and services (46 percent).

The survey interviewed more than 3,000 executives across 17 countries around the world, including in the Middle East with the UAE, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.

Visit the SAP stand in Hall 6, exhibiting under the theme of “Empathy to Action”. SAP innovations cover the Internet of Things, along with cloud, artificial intelligence, blockchain, machine learning.