Companies in the Middle East are showing varying levels of adoption of digital technologies such as cloud, edge computing, artificial intelligence (AI), and Internet of Things (IoT), according to new research from Accenture (NYSE: ACN) and Microsoft. The overwhelming majority of enterprises (87%) expect 5G to significantly impact their business, with 61% planning to invest in 5G campus networks.
Technology and connectivity infrastructure have become a critical strategic imperative for businesses driven by post-pandemic ways of working and a continuous need to accelerate digital transformation and scale innovation. Together, Accenture and Microsoft commissioned a study titled, Unfolding the next growth chapter in the Middle East, which included a survey of 257 senior executives of Middle East enterprises. It revealed that most companies are committed to investing in digital technologies including cloud, edge computing, AI, IoT and next-generation networks like 5G. These new technologies hold huge promise for supercharging business outcomes—but only if they are harnessed in the right way.
According to the study, 77% of enterprise executives say they are planning to invest an incremental 3-10% of their Information and Communications Technology budget on advanced networks like 5G in the next three years. Further, 64% of respondents from the oil & gas industry and 45% from manufacturing prioritize near-term 5G campus network investments. Companies see 5G as not merely an incremental version of 4G/LTE but as a catalyst to accelerate their digital transformation and a key enabler of innovative use cases.
“The Middle East is a fertile ground for enterprises to reap the benefits of next-gen networks and technologies. The region has emerged as a global forerunner in advanced connectivity, with Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE among the first countries in the world to deploy 5G networks,” said Giampiero Terzi, managing director of Accenture’s Communications, Media & Technology practice in the Middle East. “Today, regional governments are focusing extensively on the deployment of digital technologies as part of their economic diversification strategies, which are focused on harnessing knowledge-based digital economies with a thriving private sector.”
Amr Kamel, Global Partner Solutions Leader, Microsoft MEA, added, “Our collaborative study with Accenture finds that regional enterprises have a strong appetite to adopt and leverage 5G. It is promising to see how organizations perceive 5G as an accelerator to advance their digital transformation journey and scale innovation. Next-gen technologies will have a significant impact on business outcomes, and leaders must plan ahead to make the most of them.”
Today, most companies are implementing individual technologies and upgrading networks as standalone transformation projects, therefore falling short of delivering holistic business value. Many enterprises also perceive tremendous challenges in navigating the network and digital technology integration complexity, extracting return on investment, and choosing the right partner ecosystem and platform for solutioning.
Yet, a small group of companies have been able to break through these barriers. The study revealed that a small number of high-performing companies, or “Tech Leaders”, are on track to deliver more value than their peers in the next three years. Tech Leaders expect revenue to grow 2.1x faster, expand margins 1.6x higher and are 16% more likely to see their 5G and network investments result in new product and service innovations – driving superior value creation for their business.
Setting them apart from the rest of their industry peers, Tech Leaders are finding greater success when following these four imperatives:
- Elevating the business case for next-gen technology solutions. Tech Leaders demonstrate a deep understanding of technology convergence across the organization. They seize the first-mover advantage, investing in and adopting next-gen technologies quickly, and scale them to maximize value.
- Planning for workforce and cultural transformation. Tech Leaders aggressively re-skill, hire, and leverage partner expertise to build the future workforce, critical to deriving value from the new network.
- Building security into every step of the process. Tech Leaders understand that simply upgrading to new network technology does not ensure higher security standards; instead, they view it as an opportunity to transform their security mindset and architecture.
- Identifying the right partners and platform for solutioning. Tech Leaders prefer to work with strategic partners – not standalone suppliers – who share a common vision and are ready to co-innovate and co-create new products and services.
By preparing the right strategy and partnerships, organizations across the Middle East can tap into the huge business opportunity offered by next-gen networks and digital technologies.