Saudi companies on the front foot with adopting new technologies

08 February 2023 Consultancy-me.com 5 min. read

Companies in Saudi Arabia are relatively keen on exploring and adopting new technologies, according to the new ‘Tech Survey Saudi Arabia’ study by KPMG.

Launched yesterday during LEAP 2023, the report sheds light into the appetite of Saudi organisations to invest in technology strategies, and what types of technologies are on the receiving end of their funds.

Based on a survey of executives, the researchers found that Saudi leaders are upbeat and confident about what they can achieve through digital transformation. Building on this, Saudi leaders are compared to their international peers less risk adverse in adopting tech at the cutting edge, and not surprising then, many organisations are positioned as fast-movers in the scene.

Sixty-six percent of technology leaders in Saudi Arabia today identify as digital leaders. Digital transformation is less of a differentiator than it was

Despite the greenfield terrain they may be embarking, Saudi leaders feel their track record in digital transformation is good.

“80% of organizations in the Kingdom are at an advanced stage of their digital transformation strategies, with the leadership support and funding required to drive their program forward”, said Robert Ptaszynski, Head of Digital & Innovation at KPMG in Saudi Arabia.

“Almost two thirds of Saudi-based respondents believe their organizations are either extremely or very effective at using tech to advance their business strategies. This marks the highest confidence level in our research series – the Tech Survey report was conducted in numerous countries worldwide.”

 Where would you place your organization in its cloud journey?

Cloud

Of all technologies on their plate, cloud has according to the survey developed into a ‘must have’ for most functions/processes in today’s environment. Nine in ten businesses (88%) told KPMG that they are advanced in their adoption of cloud, with more than two third ‘satisfied’ about their returns on investment.

The top advantage that tech executives in Saudi Arabia cited as a gain from their cloud programs was an improvement in security and compliance (39% percent). In contrast, the top advantage cited globally was lowering the total cost of ownership in comparison to end-to-end on-premises IT infrastructure.

However, Saudi respondents did rank lowering total cost of ownership highly (33%), along with improvements in system performance (27%), and driving innovation (25%) as key benefits delivered via their cloud programs.

How satisfied are you with the success of your cloud transformation programs

Adib Kilzie, Head of Customer Experience, Cloud & Enterprise Solutions at KPMG in Saudi Arabia said: “Cloud adoption is now considered the logical next step in the playbook of the technology leader; how they advance to substantiate the desired outcomes remains the key strategic imperative.”

Other technologies that were uncovered by the authors as top of mind in terms of investment priorities include: artificial intelligence, data analytics, intelligent automation, cybersecurity, and Web3 (which includes the metaverse).

Commenting on the latter technology, Maz Hussain, Head of Digital Lighthouse at KPMG, said: “Some government organizations and companies in Saudi Arabia have already identified metaverse and Web3 as a new potential channel to deliver services to their customers. However, government departments are naturally being careful to be sure that they pick the right pilot projects.”

Bringing digital to life

Successfully implementing digital strategies is notorious for not being an easy feat. In fact, according to one estimate by Boston Consulting Group (BCG), “only” 1 in 3 digital transformation projects turn out to be successful. To endorse its worrying claim, the global strategy giant studied more than 900 digital transformations programs worldwide.

While leaders in Saudi Arabia feel their track record in digital roll-outs is better than BCG’s benchmark, they did in KPMG’s survey point to a long list of challenges they commonly encounter in the implementation phase.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your adoption of new digital technologies

The biggest challenge businesses face in their adoption of digital technologies both globally and within Saudi Arabia is the lack of talent. Broadly in sync with the global average, 41% of Saudi respondents identified lack of capable talent to carry out key roles as one of their biggest challenges.

“Top organizations recognize that talent is going to remain one of IT‘s greatest challenges for the foreseeable future and are investing heavily in developing their own talent,” said Fadi Alsheikh, Head of CIO Advisory & Business Continuity at KPMG in Saudi Arabia.

Bearing the cost of purchasing new systems and the lack of a proper digital governance rounded off the top three.

All in all, Samer Abdallah, Head of ICT at KPMG in Saudi Arabia, concluded: “Saudi organizations have truly risen to the digital transformation challenge, driving faster progress than many of their global counterparts and putting themselves in an ideal position to become more agile and datadriven.”