RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • According to Accenture's latest research in collaboration with Microsoft, a major transformation is unfolding across the Middle East.
  • End-to-end digital transformation will come about through the convergence of 5G and key technologies: Cloud, Edge computing, AI, and IoT.
  • Most companies today are implementing individual technologies and upgrading networks as standalone transformation projects.
  • “Tech Leaders” distinguish themselves by investing in advanced networks, such as 5G, as a strategic asset, alongside other digital capabilities.


According to Accenture’s latest research in collaboration with Microsoft, a major transformation is unfolding across the Middle East, with enterprises investing in digital technologies and next-generation networks. These new technologies hold huge promise for supercharging business outcomes—but only if they are harnessed in the right way.

End-to-end digital transformation will come about through the convergence of 5G and key technologies: Cloud, Edge computing, AI, and IoT. To realize the full benefits of advances in network connectivity and digital technologies, companies will not only have to invest in a suite of new convergent technology solutions. They will also need to carry out organizational and cultural change, elevate the next-gen connectivity and technology agenda on the C-suite radar, and develop the internal skills needed to put these solutions at the base of innovation and company growth.

This will not be easy, and companies may have concerns over the complexity of associated technology integration, extracting return on investment, and choosing the appropriate partner ecosystem and platform for solutioning. But it is possible to rise above these challenges. In our new research, in collaboration with Microsoft, we have identified a group of leading companies called Tech Leaders who point a way for others seeking to take advantage of the game-changing convergence opportunity.

The trail being blazed by Tech Leaders offers a beacon for others looking to light their own path to transformation and innovation. In this report, we explore the outlook and impact of 5G and converging technologies across the Middle East–examining detailed use cases from multiple industries—to illustrate how enterprises can prepare for the far-reaching shifts that technology convergence will unleash.

The time is now

Digital technologies and advanced connectivity have become the foundation for future enterprises aiming to be hyper-connected, agile, secure, resilient, and innovative. We see that companies across different industries in the Middle East are eager to seize the game-changing power of this new technology landscape.

80%

of companies are at various stages of adopting digital technologies, ranging from wide adoption to partial implementation to piloting

77%

say they are planning to invest an incremental 3-10% of their IT budget on advanced networks like 5G in the next 3 years

61%

of respondents are planning to invest in 5G-enabled campus networks

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. Governments are focusing extensively on deployment of digital technologies as part of their strategy of moving away from a primarily oil-based economy to a knowledge based digital economy with a thriving private sector.

Unfolding the next growth chapter in the Middle East

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View from the industries

5G-enabled technology solutions have potential to unlock entirely new use cases and business models across industry verticals. They will drastically change how enterprises across different industries operate—but impact and adoption will vary from one to another. To understand the potential effects more closely, in addition to the survey we interviewed experts across six key industries: manufacturing, oil and gas, retail, financial services, government/smart cities, and healthcare. In our report, we explore their insights on the benefits that will be driven by 5G and converging technologies, current barriers to widespread adoption, and how different industries will be impacted through specific use cases.

Across the region, business leaders are doubling down on 5G and digital technology solution deployments. Driving these investments are three key developments:

The new post-pandemic way of working:

The pandemic harshly reminded enterprises of the importance of keeping business hyper-connected and having robust digital infrastructure in place, and the future budgets reflect that reality. As per Gartner, globally almost 70% of organizations using Cloud services today plan to increase their Cloud spending in the wake of the disruption caused by COVID-19. It also found that 66% of enterprises globally increased or maintained their AI investments since the onset of COVID-19 and 75% will continue or start new AI initiatives over 2021 . Companies are also investing significantly in their networks. According to IDC, nearly 45% of worldwide respondents said their enterprises plan to increase spending on 4G/5G wireless/cellular connectivity in 2021.

"The Middle East is a fertile ground for enterprises to reap the benefits of next-gen networks & technologies. Regional governments are focusing extensively on moving towards a knowledge-based digital economy with a thriving private sector."

– TEJAS PATEL, Managing Director – Technology

The push for accelerating digital transformation:

True digital transformation can only happen when next generation technologies (Cloud, Edge, AI) and networks (5G) come together. As per IDC, enterprise spending on digital transformation in Middle East, Turkey, and Africa is set to gather even more pace in the post-pandemic period, increasing from 25% of total IT spending in 2020 to 37% in 2024. Digital transformation is also the key objective of government plans in the region with major economies making massive investments in AI, IoT and other such technologies as a part of initiatives like Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, UAE’s Vision 2021, and Qatar’s National Vision 2030 development plan.

The need to explore innovation and disruptive opportunities:

Organizations are looking to accelerate innovation to support business and operating model reinvention, fast-tracking transformation programs to future proof their businesses. Accenture’s Innovation Maturity Index, which measures the maturity of companies’ innovation capabilities, found the overall innovation maturity index scores for the Middle East to be 59 (out of 100) in 2021, and results were quite muted from last year. Companies in Middle East certainly have room to up their innovation game. Companies in the region need to make innovation a priority and intensifying their efforts in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic which necessities business transformation.

Tejas R. Patel

Managing Director, Technology Strategy & Advisory – Growth Markets Lead


Giampiero Terzi

Client Group Lead – Middle East, CMT


Vimal Sethi

Managing Director – Microsoft Business Group, Middle East

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