Dubai’s Innovative Communications Industry
Dubai, is well on its way to bring together all e-government facilities under one banner through smart connected devices backed by a new data law enabling government departments to transfer information to private entities and the public sector.
This will spur a wave of innovations and give rise to a new breed of entrepreneurs who already are making full use of the available services. Case in point are the statistics issued by government showing a 117 percent rise in mpay app use over the last nine months compared to last year valued at $62.8 million. That number is dramatically compounded when considering the total e-commerce sales in the MENA region expected to reach $51.4 billion by 2017 according to a report courtesy of iq by Intel, a company that explores the role technology plays in our daily lives.
Reason behind the rise of mobile payments is due to the evolution of secure payment gateways backed by
third party providers, paving the way for SMES and various other businesses to expand beyond their physical confines. Yet despite the fact that e-commerce in the UAE still has some way to go, the Emirate is already the MENA leader in B2C e-commerce growth. Backed by exceedingly high mobile and smartphone penetration, Internet access and electronic card payment systems, e-retail sales are expected to triple between 2014 and 2019.
Taking note are senior decisionmakers in the country’s public and private sectors 62 percent of whom have seen the pace of technology adoption in their organisation increase over the past two years. Awareness of the advantages such a system offers has driven almost half these organisations to actively invest in digital technologies with almost 90 percent convinced that a personalised customer experience fits within their top three business priorities with half already seeing positive returns on their investments in technologies that enable this personalisation.
A report by Accenture, a global digital consultancy, explains that new technology trends will re-shape markets by creating new digital ‘ecosystems’, for which leading businesses and governments in the Middle East are developing new strategies and projects to capitalise on. The five trends identified in the report include the personalisation of what is called, Internet of Me; a shift in focus from selling things to selling results in an Outcome Economy based on digital platforms that help build next-generation products and services in the Platform (R)evolution. With smart software embedded across the enterprises of the future, these will create the Intelligent Enterprise powered by clever machines and devices working alongside employees as the entire Workforce is Re-imagined.
Global CIOS are urging Middle East enterprises to recruit higher level strategists to drive digital transformation forward. As the Internet of Things era advances in the Middle East, Frost & Sullivan, a growth partnership company predicts there will be 50 billion globally connected devices by 2020, spawning new services, data streams, and control over customer and supplier products. “Over the next five years, business leaders in boardrooms across the region will face a tough challenge in the digital economy, requiring them to disrupt themselves or lag behind. They need to simplify operations through real-time analysis of data from different divisions, such as HR, logistics and marketing,” said Jonathan Becher, chief digital officer and head of SAP Digital, a company that tracks customers’ digital interactions. Most, (93 percent) of UAE respondents believe they have reached a tipping point in the talent shortage for IT skills that will require companies to look at emerging technology solutions to augment their workforces. About two-thirds (60 percent) are considering using technologies that enable business users to complete tasks that previously required IT experts. However, about four in five (82 percent) believe that successful organisations will manage employees alongside intelligent machines, ensuring collaboration between the two and (45 percent) said they are implementing training to improve human-robot collaboration.
The changing face of shopping means that around one in three transactions is now completed from a mobile device. The market for e-commerce across the Middle East is still growing and will one day rival the US online retail market. A report by Khaleej Times uncovered clear insights for brands, online service providers and advertisers to help them serve target audiences more effectively, without breaking their trust. The research revealed that the modern consumer is putting pressure on brands to use personal information collected online to tailour services and help them get more done. The report from Microsoft Advertising’s bi-annual Digital Trends found that almost two-thirds (74 percent) in the UAE are looking for technology to help filter the messages they see; while four in five (79 percent)
want digital services to help manage information shared online. Over threequarters (83 percent) are aware that digital data can be exchanged for rewards or better experiences. In addition, half are interested in these exchanges, showing that consumers are more open to sharing personal data – as long as they’re clear on where it is going and how it is used.
In line and always on the prowl for bespoke services, Emirates 247, a local news portal found in its Digital Trends 2015 report that 62 percent of UAE residents expect brands to know them by having these online businesses customise their offerings on an ‘about me’ basis instead of treating them as another face in the crowd. Other key findings indicate that consumers increasingly want an easier way to find information that’s valuable to them, with 74 percent interested in future technology and services that automatically filter content strictly based on what they really need to see or hear at any one time be it on or off line
With advertising driving revenue, Prnewswire, based on information from Research and Markets, states that the digital signage market in the UAE is projected to grow at a CAGR of over 22 percent this year. New technology advancements like 3D digital signage, cloud based digital signage and anticipated increase in prices of 40-inch and above display screens is forecast to drive this market over the next five years. Riding that same wave, retail, hospitality, public infrastructure, transportation, and the entertainment sectors are the key application areas of digital signage in the country. Rapidly growing urbanisation and commercialisation coupled with a growing need for interactive communication and Out of Home (OOH) advertising is propelling adoption of digital signage over static signage in the UAE. Moreover, rise in digital advertising media, growing data centric information and analytics, coupled with increasing expenditure for marketing are the other key factors driving the country’s OOH market.
The report by Net Imperative, a digital intelligence website for business, found that people around the world are likely to spend more than eight hours a day consuming media with the Internet driving growth. The study, from Zenithoptimedia, indicates that consuming media in 2015 is up 1.4 per cent from 2014 and is projected to grow, in the UAE, an additional 16 percent by 2017. Television viewing still takes up the most time for any media, attracting 183.9 minutes of consumption a day in 2014 with Web-based usage in second.
These findings were compounded by another piece of research from Intermondo Cultural Consulting, which places the UAE as the world’s twentyninth largest economy and a regional technology leader by offering fast, if relatively expensive (ranked 55th globally for affordability) Internet. This growth has been spurred by good infrastructure and factors like users’ early adoption of cloud computing.
With a populace that eagerly embraces ‘newness’, including the latest in digital technology, online activity in the Emirate is already one of the highest in the world according to a recent Connected Life study by global market researcher TNS. In fact, the UAE now ranks ahead of many ‘mature’ digital markets, particularly when it comes to device-driven services. Among UAE mobile users, the most common usage is social media activity, at 52 percent. This is followed by watching videos (45 percent), playing games (33 percent), seeking locations (31 percent) and mobile banking (31 percent).
In the UAE, users are also quickly adopting ever more advanced devices and increasingly creating ‘screen stacking’, a multi-screen effect, which combines traditional communication devices (newspapers, radio and television) with mobile devices. This phenomenon is creating new challenges to come up with integrated marketing that attracts consumers and keeps up with their shifting habits.
Surprisingly, Hanan Abdullah at the University of Wollongong in Dubai, researching social media trends among young Emirati women between 17 and 24 years of age, found that young women are spearheading the screen-stacking trend. An average of 92 percent of those surveyed are active across at least three accounts on social media websites.
With phenomenal innovations taking place on many fundamental fronts, it would be safe to assume that the UAE is in for a technological revolution that in all probability will lead the rest of the region to pause, take note and follow the examples set.