UAE management boards are enthusiastic about digital transformation in their organizations, and are especially interested in its capacity to increase operational efficiencies, the 2019 Harvey Nash/KPMG Chief Information Officer Survey has found.
The UAE is on par with global organizations when it comes to investing in digital strategies, with nearly half of UAE-based organizations employing a Chief Digital Officer or someone serving in that capacity.
In fact, the UAE performs better than the global average in four out of five technology-related capabilities, including using suitable internal and external resources to access the right technology skills; changing ways of working to maximize value from technology; using cross-functional teams; and ensuring business leaders work collaboratively to deliver technology change improvements.
Farhan Syed, Partner, Digital & Innovation at KPMG Lower Gulf, said: "Our study shows that UAE companies tend to be more effective than their global peers across a range of digital-related capabilities. This is very encouraging, especially as the UAE has embarked on a long-term mission to transform the public and private sectors by adopting innovative digital strategies that improve the customer experience and drive business efficiency."
When it comes to data security and trust, only 14 per cent of UAE CIOs reported cyber-attacks in the past two years compared with 32 per cent of global CIOs. Interestingly, nearly all UAE CIOs feel their organization is capable of dealing with cyber-attacks now and in the near future.
In terms of technology adoption, UAE CIOs are widely embracing cloud technologies (67%) and are increasingly implementing more emerging technologies such as robotic process automation (29 per cent), and artificial intelligence/Machine Learning (24 per cent).
Albert Ellis, CEO, Harvey Nash said: "The fact that UAE CIOs are implementing more emerging technologies such as AI and Machine Learning is very significant - as both are accelerants which when added to the normal evolution of automation are exponentially changing the pace of change and shortening the life of each separate and incremental innovation.
It's therefore important that the CIO and their IT team remains at the heart of these new technologies, working with the business and helping shape the AI strategy. Innovation will be the lifeblood of any business, and IT will be its enabler."
Approximately half of UAE CIOs (49 per cent) surveyed expect their IT budget to increase over the next 12 months, on par with global (52 per cent). Notably, 33 per cent of UAE-based organizations' IT departments control all IT spending (versus 21 per cent globally).
UAE-based decision makers are more concerned about leveraging digital innovation to drive down operational costs, while global organizations are more likely to invest in technology that generates revenue.
Complementing this finding, CEOs in the UAE are significantly more interested in IT projects which save money (53 percent in the UAE, 36 percent globally) rather than make money.
This indicates that while IT may drive business model transformation in other markets, enterprise model transformation is key for organizations in the UAE.