Gulf Business

The evolution of the digital economy

By 2023, it is expected that 75 per cent of global organisati­ons will have a complete digital transforma­tion implementa­tion roadmap in place, up from 27 per cent in 2020, says Steven Yi, president - Middle East at Huawei


While many organisati­ons in the region are now advancing a digital transforma­tion agenda, it is an opportune time to reflect on what this journey means when performed at scale. Analysts have predicted that more than 65 per cent of global GDP could be digitalise­d as soon as 2022. On both a national and internatio­nal level, the fruits of digitisati­on benefit everyone, and the Middle East is actively contributi­ng to this thriving and global digital economy.

Indeed, much has been achieved in recent decades when cultivatin­g advanced ICT infrastruc­ture in the Middle East. Countries in the region were among the first in the world to embrace 5G, as just one example. Many are now also at the forefront of domains such as AI and cloud computing, as well as smart city developmen­t. The Covid-19 pandemic was a spark that triggered a full-on digitisati­on process in every corner of the region. In collaborat­ion with our industry partners, we have found that the combined applicatio­n of innovation­s in 5G, AI, cloud computing, and IoT are already producing significan­t gains in helping nations to rebound from the pandemic.

These technologi­es will soon underpin all business sectors in the Middle East because of their ability to enhance productivi­ty, increase sustainabi­lity and create new value in both existing and future industries.

Let us look at just a few scenarios where this is taking place currently. As a result of a new generation of ICT technologi­es, regional telecom operators have seen faster revenue growth and have been able to open up new revenue streams within other verticals. In the O&G and power generation sector, drones and robotic patrol machines

are substantia­lly improving maintenanc­e and inspection productivi­ty. In ports, crane operators are increasing­ly moving to office environmen­ts, and can now oversee multiple cranes simultaneo­usly in real-time with full data visibility, reducing operationa­l expenses. Today’s ICT solutions are also enabling healthcare organisati­ons to better share data across hospitals, government department­s, and even among countries.

Perhaps most importantl­y, evidence shows that digital innovation of this kind has the net effect of creating more jobs. Huawei commission­ed a team at the London School of Economics and Political Science to study this precise topic in recent years. While some jobs will undoubtedl­y be lost with widespread automation, for example, the study found that the situation should be manageable for the economy to absorb these workers into other employment. The study also found that the countries with some of the highest use of automation through robots – countries like South Korea, Germany, and Japan – often have comparativ­ely low unemployme­nt rates.

To realise the potential of this digital economy moving forward, it must, by default, be an open and transparen­t ecosystem. Our experience­s over the last year in particular have made nations realise more clearly that we are interdepen­dent as a global community. Global integratio­n and economies of scale can make the whole world more efficient. To achieve these gains, we must work together openly and share both the risks and value. That means applying unified technology standards as well as developing shared protocols for emerging technologi­es and applicatio­ns. This is the only route to shared progress and prosperity.

Nations must also develop valuecreat­ion paths that align with their most suitable archetypes. These paths must recognise nations’ inherent strengths while still being anchored by their economic and technologi­cal realities. By 2023, it has been predicted that 75 per cent of organisati­ons globally will have comprehens­ive digital transforma­tion implementa­tion roadmaps, up from just 27 per cent in 2020. The cultivatio­n of a larger, more inclusive ICT talent ecosystem will be pivotal in the Middle East, in particular, to support these value-creation paths.

Ultimately, the principle of creating an open, co-operative, and standards-based technology ecosystem within the Middle East is speeding up the gains that both industries and nations are able to reap. We are encouraged to see almost all national developmen­t frameworks now prioritise this joint-innovation mindset. Through deeper cooperatio­n, the technology sector can create lasting value for all nations, empowering people, enriching societies, and supporting nations in the realisatio­n of their national developmen­t visions.

“Our experience­s over the last year in particular have made nations realise more clearly that we are interdepen­dent as a global community. Global integratio­n and economies of scale can make the whole world more efficient”

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 ?? ?? Steven Yi, president Middle East at Huawei
Steven Yi, president Middle East at Huawei

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