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Middle East CIOs optimistic as budgets increase and digital transformations expand

Cyber security and risk management will see the biggest increase in spending, but digital transformation of businesses is a major driver of investment, survey shows

Nearly three-quarters of organisations in the Middle East expect their IT budgets to increase this year as more companies embark on digital transformations.

According to Computer Weekly’s IT Priorities survey for the Middle East, budgets and optimism are strong in the region.

Some 72% of Middle East-based respondents to the survey said they expect IT budgets to increase this year, with about half expecting rises above 10%. Only 13% expect IT budgets to drop and 15% expect no change in budgets.

While cyber security and risk management will see the biggest increase in spending, the digital transformation of businesses in the region is a major driver of investment.

In the survey, 45% of Middle East organisations said they are embarking on digital transformation, while 33% already have a well-established strategy and 21% have not yet started a digital transformation.

More than half (51%) of the organisations questioned said streamlining operations through internal efficiency and better process management is a driver of digital transformation.

Improving employee performance and productivity is the next most important driver, for 47% of organisations. To support this, 41% of Middle East-based organisations are increasing investment in technologies that improve employee experience and productivity.

Meeting compliance and security requirements is a driver of digital transformation for 42% of respondents to the survey, and 27% said they are increasing investment in security.

Digital transformation is also being driven by external factors, with 40% of respondents enhancing product and service innovation through digital transformation.

Read more about digital transformation in the Middle East

  • Bill Ruh, CEO at GE Digital, outlines the company’s vision of the industrial internet of things (IIoT) in the Middle East and how it plans to transform industry through the power of the internet.
  • The Middle East has been slow to join the fintech revolution, but there is an opportunity for CIOs to help banks stride ahead as demand picks up.
  • Digital channels are increasingly being used by consumers in the Middle East, but because of business reluctance, digital commerce accounts for less than 1% of the region’s gross domestic product.

In an interview with Computer Weekly last year, Bill Ruh, CEO of GE Digital and GE’s chief digital officer (CDO), said the Middle East region is one of the most enthusiastic customers for GE’s digitally powered offerings.

Ruh said there is a hunger for efficiency and productivity in the region, adding: “The Middle East is in a technology footrace globally. It’s not far behind; it’s in the same footrace.

“In terms of the early adopters, such as the Middle East, we have noted their big interest level and their rapid learning curve is moving them forward in industrial digitisation.”

Ruh said some of GE’s Middle East clients, particularly in Saudi Arabia, are initiating transformative projects and could potentially leapfrog their western counterparts.

For the full results of the Computer Weekly/TechTarget IT Priorities survey, click here.

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