A newly released report highlights that the UAE is leading the Arab world when it comes to generating economic impact from investments in information and communications technologies (ICT). The study, entitled the World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report 2016, ranked the UAE 26th globally, just ahead of Qatar (27th) while Kuwait (61st) was one of the world's biggest improvers, up by 11 places on the previous list.
Commenting on the report, Christophe Meunier, partner at advisory and investment group, Delta Partners, which specialises in the telecoms, media and digital space, said:
“In the race to become a truly digital economy, the UAE has just emerged as the front runner in the Arab world.
“By investing in information technologies and demonstrating commitment to digital connectivity, the UAE will fuel and protect the future health of business, and in turn, the economy. Those companies and economies that fail to take the digital transformation turn, will not only lag behind other countries, they will ultimately struggle to remain relevant in the new digital paradigm.
“In this way ICT should be viewed as the lifeblood of the commercial sector. To continue being an attractive place to do business, having a vibrant ICT sector is therefore critical for any economy. Going forward it is vital that there is a solid understanding of the changing landscape, and the changing roles enterprises will need to play within it. In this sense, the Arab world has a unique opportunity to leapfrog into the digital world, if firms are capable of seeing the opportunity and avoid replicating the path of a more mature economy.
“Businesses will need to redefine their roles and decide on a game plan to play in the new enterprise ICT environment. For instance, the number of things connected to the internet is expected to grow exponentially from ~four billion devices today to 12-50 billion by 2020, based on various estimates. While most of the use cases today are in the consumer domain, future Internet of Things (IoT) growth is expected to be mainly driven through use cases in the business domain.
“However, for IoT to cross the chasm from early adoption to pervasive use - especially in the business segment - gaps in the IoT value chain need to be addressed particularly in enabling security, device management and aggregation. Businesses – particularly telecommunications companies - will need to redefine their roles and understand how they can supplement their central position as connectivity providers with network and partnership capabilities. They will then be able to play a meaningful role in addressing these gaps, while fostering and orchestrating an open and vibrant ecosystem.
“So, with the likes of Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, Israel, Singapore, the Netherlands and the United States leading the way on the global stage, there is still everything to play for. Qatar recently announced that spending in its "commercial sector" is projected to increase to nearly $2.8bn by 2019, with the total ICT spending by the country’s commercial sector standing at $1.9bn in 2015 according to a report entitled, "Qatar’s ICT Landscape 2016: Business." As such, against this backdrop of positivity, and with such investment already ear-marked in Qatar, the route map for growth is poised for the taking.
“As the Arab world continues to rise in the global ranks of networked readiness, there needs to be a clear understanding of the differing market dynamics at play in the ICT area. Deciding on and creating a coherent business model will be vital for local, regional and global operators to thrive in this new environment where ICT is king.”