Digital Transformation Index 2020 from Dell Technologies reveals UAE and KSA organizations ahead in digital transformation


Dell Technologies today released the results from its ‘Digital Transformation Index 2020’, revealing that organizations in UAE and Saudi Arabia are two steps ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to digital transformation.

According to the study, 90 percent of organizations in UAE and Saudi Arabia have fast-tracked, at least, some of their digital transformation programs this year – accomplishing in a few months, what would normally have taken years. This is compared to the global benchmark of 80 percent, suggesting that organizations across the region have shifted their digital transformation programs into high gear. In fact, 85 percent of organizations in UAE and Saudi Arabia admitted to re-inventing their business model as a result of disruption – which is 6 percent ahead of organizations globally (79 percent).

The Dell Technologies Digital Transformation Index is a global study that analyses and maps digital transformation progress of mid-to large-sized companies across the world. With 5300 C-Suite respondents surveyed globally from 23 countries from a variety of industries and functions, the Dell Technologies Digital Transformation Index 2020 compares respondents from UAE and Saudi Arabia with global peers.

A new digital transformation curve

When comparing the results from the last Digital Transformation Index in 2018 to this year, UAE and Saudi Arabia saw a 6 percent rise in the number of Digital Leaders (the most digitally mature organization) last year. Digital Adopters (the second most digitally mature group) grew from 27 percent in 2018 to 31 percent in 2020.

This can be attributed to the level of digital transformation acceleration happening in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and hence, it is no surprise that the 2020 Digital Transformation Index also recorded a fall in the number of least digitally mature groups – namely, the Digital Laggards and Digital Followers – since 2018. These organizations are moving up, into the Digital Adopter and Digital Evaluator groups, which have expanded in tandem.

Innovation and investments in ICT to drive digital economy agendas

The study also shows that organizations in UAE and Saudi Arabia are keeping pace with global investment levels in the newer technologies including Edge and AI. In addition, organizations in UAE and Saudi Arabia are a solid 6 percent ahead of their global competitors when it comes to investing in 5G infrastructure demonstrating their clear commitment to develop state-of-the-art connectivity infrastructure.

Looking beyond 2021, it appears that organizations in UAE and Saudi Arabia also have high confidence in Edge computing’s capabilities. As such, Edge application investment is expected to be higher (51 percent) among organizations in UAE and Saudi Arabia compared to the global average (28 percent). According to the 2020 Digital Transformation Index, organizations across the region are particularly confident that the Edge strategies being rolled out will future-proof their business. The 2020 Digital Transformation Index lists the top technology investments in UAE and Saudi Arabia over the next one to three years as follows:

  1. 1. Real-time applications at the Edge
  2. 2. Artificial Intelligence algorithms
  3. 3. Cybersecurity solutions
  4. 4. Data management tools
  5. 5. 5G infrastructure

Barriers to transformation

The pandemic may have catalyzed digital transformation across the globe, but continuous transformation is challenging. According to the latest Digital Transformation Index, organizations are facing several barriers to transformation. The top three barriers to digital success cited by respondents in the UAE and Saudi Arabia include:

  1. 1. Unable to extract insights from data and/or information overload (a jump of eleven places since 2016)
  2. 2. Lack of economic growth due to pandemic related disruption (a new entrant for 2020)
  3. 3. Data privacy and cybersecurity concerns (down one place since 2018)

Research methodology

During July and August of 2020, Dell Technologies partnered with independent research company Vanson Bourne to survey 4,300 business leaders from mid-size to enterprise organizations across 18 countries – creating a global benchmark indicating businesses’ status of transformation. In November and December 2020, a further 1,000 respondents were interviewed from Israel, Russia, Saudi Arabia/UAE, South Africa, and Korea. Vanson Bourne classified businesses’ digital business efforts by examining their IT strategy, workforce transformation initiatives and perceived performance against a core set of digital business attributes.

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