Digitization strategies and UAE’s IT market and services growth

$23 billion is expected to be spent on the sector in the UAE
Digitization strategies and UAE’s IT market and services growth
Walid Gomaa

“The UAE continues to be among the most attractive ICT markets in the Middle East, driven by digitization initiatives and aided by the increased adoption of leading technologies such as cloud, big data analytics, internet of things (IoT), and artificial intelligence (AI),” Walid Gomaa Acting Chief Executive Officer at Omnix International told Economy Middle East in an interview.

Omnix International provides transformational digitization solutions in infrastructure,  computer-aided engineering, cybersecurity, cloud computing, and managed services, among others.

Walid is an IT veteran with over 33 years of experience with stints at IBM, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, EMC, Gulf business Machines, Oracle, and others.

In an exclusive with Economy Middle East, we asked Walid Gomaa:

How is the UAE IT market growth in terms of spending on IT services?


Experts estimate ICT spending in the UAE to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8% during the period 2019-2024 to reach $23 billion in 2024, according to GlobalData, a leading data, and analytics company.

As our societies increasingly adopts digital transformation, customers are focusing on technologies such as security & resilience, process automation, application modernization, data excellence, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Cloud. These technologies require expertise to be able to implement and manage them.

This is leading to an increase in demand for IT services. Within the construction sector that we operate in, we continue to see the adoption of advanced technologies such as virtual reality and augmented reality apps. All these increased investments in emerging technologies are going to act as a catalyst for the ICT spending market to grow further. 

Do companies still use legacy systems?


Competition in every sector is increasing and industries are growing. This means businesses need to adopt digital transformation to thrive in a challenging business world.

To increase business revenues with focused efforts to work more efficiently, digital transformation adoption is now a norm. However, many companies still deal with outdated systems. While business owners know they need to make changes for the better, the adoption process is quite daunting and place it on the back burner. We find that the operational hazards for using legacy systems lie in hidden costs, which companies will eventually need to address.

Most legacy systems are independent and not designed to be integrated with newer technologies and could especially be prone to several security issues.

When executing a digital transformation strategy, we need to consider the legacy systems involved and manage them until they are retired or replaced. The good news is that there are platforms and tools that can help in the modernization process.

What are the current UAE market needs for content managed services, hosting, and cloud services?


The Managed Services market is seeing strong growth in the region. We have seen a huge uptake for managed services by both enterprises and SMEs in the last few years. Given that most managed services have flexible engagement models, many CIOs are looking into outsourcing and managed services.

In today’s IT world, demand for skilled resources is extremely high. To be able to have managed services, hosting, and cloud services you need skilled resources to architect, implement and manage these. Managed service contracts also require a mix of reactive and proactive services to perform remote monitoring, provisioning, backups, account management, hardware maintenance, and managing software licensing.

What are the top 3 digitization priorities that corporates need to adopt today and why?


Digital technologies are fast emerging and rapidly developing. Organizations today need to deploy digital technologies to stay competitive. Implementing digital technologies to disrupt business processes for growth requires harnessing new technologies and revising business models.

The top three digitization priorities would involve process automation, applications modernization, and data excellence. It all comes down to optimizing cost, enhancing operations, adding speed & agility, and availing the right data to the right people at the right time.

How do you look at CIO budgets? Are they low? What could CIOs do to leverage what low budgets they might have against their top IT needs?


Budget handling by CIOs depends on each organizations’ priorities. While most CIOs are expected to function with minimum budgets, remaining focused is vital. The key is proper planning while considering the company’s mission and ensuring that it is achieved. This requires clear visibility on the needs and goals to ensure that projects are prioritized systematically.

Developing accurate financial models and reviewing existing processes for better efficacy is crucial. It is only when we optimize the processes and technologies that the company can turn into a profit center.

CIOs should be looking at high-impact services and use the right technologies and tools to get the best ROI. Business process outsourcing also can play an important role here as often it is less expensive to acquire software and services than to develop them in-house.

How much is the future of work (remote, hybrid, virtual) is changing the way you navigate your IT solutions for corporates?


We believe that all these new work models are here to stay. There are advantages and disadvantages for every model. However, through a consultative approach, we need to understand the organization’s KPIs to drive the best work model(s) that suits the organization. Also, we should evaluate each role in the organization and utilize the right model for each of them.  As an example, during the pandemic, we discovered that some roles are more productive if they are remote. As many are now concluding, some roles can be more cost-effective if we make them virtual.