Dietmar Siersdorfer: Dietmar Siersdorfer: "many companies in the region have some catching up to do."

GCC companies are lagging behind their government and consumer counterparts when it comes to using digital technologies, according to a joint study conducted by Siemens and the Ideation Centre at the management consultancy Strategy& (formerly Booz & Company), part of the PwC network.

GCC governments have acknowledged the economic and social benefits of digitalisation, incorporating them into their ambitious strategies. Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and National Transformation Plan 2020, Smart Dubai, Qatar's Connect 2020 ICT Policy, and Oman’s digital strategy e-Oman all stress the importance of the use of digital technologies. Similarly, GCC consumers are among the most tech-savvy in the world. The UAE, Qatar and Bahrain have more than 100% smartphone penetration rates and young people across the region are playing an important role in influencing the development of new technologies.

Senior executives from Siemens Middle East and Strategy& launched the “Preparing for the digital era: the state of digitalisation in GCC businesses” report at Dubai’s 3D-printed Office of the Future, highlighting key findings from the joint study that are intended to help encourage the progress and evolution of digitalisation among the region’s businesses.

Of the 300 companies surveyed, 60% believe that digitalisation has the potential to create new business models or lead to a more open culture of innovation. However, only 3% of organisations believe they are at an advanced stage of their digital transformation process, with only 18% using the cloud and 30% using big data and analytics specifically.

Dietmar Siersdorfer, CEO, Siemens Middle East and UAE said:"Governments and consumers in the GCC have been rapid adopters of digital technologies, and our report tells us the benefits of digitalisation are widely acknowledged by the majority of organisations."

However, he added:"many companies in the region have some catching up to do, and our research suggests there is still work to be done to encourage the understanding that digitalisation is a transformation journey, requiring a holistic approach. Companies must develop a business strategy for the digital age, and finding the right partners is essential. The GCC is taking great strides towards economic diversification, and digitalisation is a key driver of globally competitive business, industry and infrastructure. The region is in a position to fully embrace the disruptive potential of digitalisation, across all sectors.”

Samer Bohsali, partner with Strategy& in Dubai, said: “Executives in the GCC are excited by digital. They recognise its benefits, such as stronger customer orientation and increased efficiency, which is vital in an era of budget constraints. Many companies, however, perceive the process of going digital as the adoption of a specific technology, rather than a transformation journey.”