The coronavirus pandemic is taking a toll on local and global economies, presenting almost all organizations with unforeseen challenges. However, tech-savvy firms in the UAE are responding well to ensure business continuity, experts concur. 

Disruption of global supply chains, plummeting markets, downward revision of corporate forecasts, sales warnings, travel restrictions, delays and cancellation of global events are a few snowball effects of Covid-19 on businesses.

Savvy organizations that have digital workspace technologies as a foundation of their business continuity plans have demonstrated the agility, speed and efficiency required to manage resources in the dynamic way that unpredictable business environments demand, said Taj El- Khayat, regional director, MENA, Citrix, a US-headquartered software firm.

With the world ill-equipped to handle the pandemic and its impact, many companies have struggled to grapple with the new changes especially those who cannot operate online due to the very nature of their business.

Maintaining business continuity in current tumultuous times requires flexi operations and workplace technologies that allow employees to work securely from anywhere, said El- Khayat.

In a report published in 2019, the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Harvard Global Health Institute had warned of an outbreak like COVID-19 and told businesses to step up to the increasing risk of pandemics.

WEF's report had proposed tailored insights on the impact of outbreaks and offered strategies for effective response and resilience.

UAE's response

The UAE has responded well to the changing business dynamics with most public and private organisations converting swiftly to online presence to ensure business continuity.

"The government has proactively released a catalogue of all its services available online along with the creation of an online ‘mobility permit’ platform, making it easy for people to access all services in the comfort of their homes," said Rami Kichli, Vice-President, Software AG, (Gulf and Levant).

Germany-based technology firm Software AG provides services to 50 government organisations as well as private entities in the UAE.

"UAE is ahead in terms of its technological capabilities and is one of the few countries where the government drives growth," added Kichli.

With UAE's Paperless 2021 vision underway in full steam, the country is pacing ahead to digitize all government services.

The UAE's private sector is also investing heavily to increase its online capabilities, maintain employee engagement, business continuity, and customer support especially in times like these with flexible work models and secure, remote workplace technologies.

Digital transformation 

According to International Data Corporation (IDC), a global provider of market intelligence, UAE will witness a 5.1 percent year-on-year jump in IT spending in 2020 to $8.45 billion.

"From ecommerce and cloud computing to fintech and cybersecurity, the UAE is leading the region in digital transformation," Ammar Al Malik, the managing director of Dubai Internet City, was quoted as saying at IDC Directions 2020 in January.

A recent study conducted by IDC stated that investments in digital transformation and innovation will account for 30 percent of all IT spending in the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa (META) by 2024, up from 18 percent in 2018.

Technology to the rescue 

Organisations that have a sound flexible work and digital workspace readiness programme, have proved that it is a source for growth and competitive advantage, especially in the current scenario.

Technology can be leveraged to create new opportunities for economic self-sufficiency. "The coronavirus is a perfect example that proves that we live in a world where global dominates local. This is where technology comes to the rescue," said El Khayat.

For example, given the region's technological advancement, data centres could be the Gulf’s new refineries and a source of new jobs that could be created locally thereby uplifting the local economy.

While it’s difficult to predict how severe the COVID-19 situation will get over the next few weeks and months, it is clear organisations must develop new capabilities and build a digital infrastructure that supports resilient operations and pervasive experiences.

(Reporting by Mily Chakrabarty; Editing by Seban Scaria)



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