MEA manufacturers ramping up investments in digital technologies

Manufacturers' ability to run digital operations is threatened by legacy systems
MEA manufacturers ramping up investments in digital technologies
71% of MEA manufacturers pursue digital-first approach

The manufacturing sector in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region is entering a new era of digital innovation, with enterprises shifting from the digital transformation era — in which they transformed their operations with digital technologies — to the digital business era, in which the focus is on running a sustainable digital business, according to IDC, a global provider of IT analysis.

The study commissioned by industry cloud company Infor reveals that 71% of MEA manufacturers are pursuing a digital-first approach to business. Of these, 82% are ramping up investments including in factory automation and robotic process automation, and 56% are investing in digital employee experience.

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However, challenges persist, largely due to continued reliance on legacy systems, with 64% of manufacturers in the MEA region still using spreadsheets and standalone applications to manage their supply chains, according to IDC.

The presence of manual workflows, as well as legacy systems and their primitive functionalities, prevent organizations from achieving the speed, scale, and flexibility required for the new world, according to Jebin George, IDC senior manager of software, cloud, and industry solutions.

Manufacturing is increasingly under the spotlight in the Middle East, especially in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, whose governments have identified it as a key sector for development. In the UAE, national initiatives such as the government’s “Operation 300bn” strategy aim to increase the industrial sector’s contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) to AED300 billion ($81.7 billion) by 2031. The government also is keen to use technologies such as artificial intelligence to help propel the sector to new heights.

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