SAP aligns with Saudi Arabia’s IT transformation agenda

Global software giant SAP sees an opportunity for its wide portfolio in Saudi Arabia as the Middle Eastern country transforms

Following SAP’s recent announcement that it is investing SAR285m ($76m) to create a public innovation cloud hub in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the company has revealed that it is supporting the nation’s digital transformation through a cloud initiative.

The SAP Cloud Hub will be established in collaboration with the Saudi Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, to help deliver the Saudi Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Programme (NTP) 2020.

Ahmed Al-Faifi, managing director at SAP Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Bahrain, said driving cloud solutions will be SAP’s key goal in Saudi Arabia in 2017 where it wants to support public and private sector Saudi organisations.

Al-Faifi said SAP sees five main areas for its technologies in Saudi Arabia: the cross channel citizen experience; supplier collaboration business networks; time digital core technology; workforce engagement, and delivering big data across the internet of things (IoT).

“SAP is dedicated to leveraging its global experience and expertise to drive Saudi’s digital transformation.”

SAP is targeting public and private sector organisations that are attempting achieve the nationwide digital transformation goals outlined by the government.

“Across the Kingdom, we are recruiting customers and accelerating the training, certification, and capacity of existing clients to prepare them with the digital solutions to meet their business needs,” he said.

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With the introduction of the Saudi Vision 2030 and NTP 2020, the company now believes more than ever that transforming into a digital government is the only way for the country to completely realise this vision.

“In terms of industry verticals, we see strong digitisation potential in banking and finance, education, government and public sector, healthcare, manufacturing, oil and gas, retail, smart cities, sport, telecommunications and, transportation and logistics,” he said.

Lower prices a catalyst for support

While the drop in crude oil prices has impacted Saudi Arabia’s IT infrastructure spending, Al-Faifi said lower oil and gas prices have actually been a catalyst for supporting SAP’s business in the Kingdom. 

The supplier is working closely with a wide range of customers to develop digital transformation strategies and upskill public and private sector organisations in the latest technology solutions to save time and costs, and drive new digital business models, while also supporting Saudi Vision 2030 and the NTP 2020.

“The Kingdom continues to be the highest-spending IT market in the Middle East, with recent industry reports expecting Saudi IT spend to reach SAR 28bn ($7.4bn) in 2017, and ICT spend to reach SAR128bn ($34.1bn) in 2017,” he said.

Saudi Arabia’s energy, oil, and gas sectors are also increasingly planning and executing digital transformation plans and investing in technology innovation to support the Saudi Arabia’s economic diversification plans. “We believe Saudi energy firms can use real-time insights to manage production, maintenance, engineering, and financials using technology,” he said.

SAP is making inroads in driving the Kingdom’s cloud adoption, creating a Cloud Innovation Hub and offering packaged and localised solutions for 25 industries and 12 lines of business. “Three key technology solutions that are proving vital for the cloud include: SAP HANA, SAP S/4HANA, and the SAP IoT platform (SAP Leonardo),” said Al-Faifi.

Strong take-up in Saudi Arabia

The SAP Business Network is also seeing strong take-up in Saudi Arabia. These include: business-to-business commerce platform SAP Ariba, which connects about 2.5m business worldwide with a trade volume of $855bn; travel and expense platform Concur, which is used by more than 45 million travellers; and external workforce and service procurement solution Fieldglass, which manages more than 3.1 million temporary workers.

Small businesses offer strong growth potential for SAP in Saudi Arabia. “Worldwide, small businesses represent 80% of our customers, and with the vast majority of organisations and job creators in Saudi Arabia being small businesses, there is strong potential for enabling them with technology that puts them on par with large enterprises,” he said.

“Both the Saudi Vision 2030 and NTP 2020 call on supporting private sector growth and SMBs face an urgent need to replace legacy systems with the latest digital solutions to support their growth in a digital driven economy.”

Across the Middle East and North Africa, SAP’s sales to SMBs are growing 45% year-on-year, and the company has a large team dedicated to the sector. “We are rapidly changing from targeting the upper-end of the SMB market to include smaller organisations as well,” said Al-Faifi.

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