The covid-19 pandemic drastically changed the business world. The digital adoption that was already underway in most businesses was accelerated. Businesses have realized that remote working can be effective. There was real-time access to any expert around the world on any topic at the click of a button. Digital transformations that would have taken 5 years to implement were achieved in just two months. But how will things shape up in the future now that we are staring at the beginning of the end of the pandemic? The answer lies in the initiatives that are being taken by the governments in the region.
Digital transformation in the GCC had begun pre-Covid. According to Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC), the GCC is at the epicenter of global megatrends. One of the key megatrends is disruption with technology. Due to the drastic fall in oil prices, the oil-rich countries had to work towards diversifying their economy. Saudi Arabia to that effect announced a long-term development plan called Saudi Vision 2030 with an investment of USD 1.3 trillion over a decade. The UAE announced Energy Strategy 2050 to make clean energy up to half of the total energy mix requirement by 2050 with an investment of USD 163 billion.
The governments have paved the way by building infrastructure, investing in healthcare, and digitizing government services. Around 98% of government services in Saudi Arabia are already electronic. Last year Abu Dhabi performed over 1,000 services on digital platforms. Businesses too have kept pace with intuitive customer-facing mobile applications. A responsive website design is a basic requirement. Hospitals have upgraded hospital management software to accommodate tele-medicines. Real estate management software has become more user-friendly.
There are three reasons for quick adoption and the pandemic is not one of them.
- Greater youth population: The digital natives are fast adopters but also highly demanding. Having a high ex-pat population working in GCC has seen an influx of the younger generation.
- Urbanization: 87% of the UAE’s population lives in urban areas. The urban population is more inclined to adopt technology to make their lives easier.
- Internet Penetration: Saudi Arabia has an internet penetration of 95.7%. Active social media users are at 79% of the population. Almost 99% of the internet users in both Saudi Arabia and the UAE have a smartphone, making internet-based transactions and services the preferred mode.
- Higher citizen satisfaction among their respective government’s digital transformation. According to BCG Survey called 2020 digital government-citizen survey, 27% of the millennials, specifically in the 18–24-year age group said their needs were met by digital initiatives while 50% of the older group responded similarly.
The digital adoption and transformation in the region are not just here to stay but also needed for any business to thrive. As a closing thought, here are 4 things that businesses should do to stay ahead in the new digital world.
- Reimagine your business for the digital age: The way your customers, employees, and stakeholders behave is changing.
- Use technology to engage: How are your consumers interacting with your business? How can you make their journey easier? Are you present in all the new touchpoints for your customer?
- Build trust: Ensure that cyber security is given the highest priority. Customers must be aware that their data is secure.
- Digital upskilling: Ensure that your employees have the required skillset in digital transformation.
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