Small and medium-sized enterprises are at the heart of any country’s economic growth, playing an important role in reducing unemployment, attracting investments, and fueling innovation. Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 has also identified SMEs as a central pillar for driving local economic growth, by setting a goal to raise the gross domestic product contribution of SMEs to 35 percent by 2030.
This objective is achievable, and cloud-led digital technologies will play a vital role in helping SMEs grow and innovate. SMEs have in fact been at the forefront of cloud adoption in the Kingdom and across the region, especially over the last few years, with the pandemic acting as a catalyst for cloud implementation.
For example, Saudi tech startup Awini is using Oracle Cloud to connect people with available truck owners in real-time and round the clock in the Kingdom. Awini reported 70 percent increased responsiveness and cost reduction and is now eyeing global expansion, covering markets like Egypt, South Korea, the Netherlands and Germany.
There are several trends pushing SMEs across various industries toward the cloud. For most organizations, the current way of doing business might not deliver the agility to grow or the flexibility to compete.
Edubook, a Saudi startup, is tackling the sudden and unexpected demand for high-quality, secure online learning brought about by the pandemic. When faced with the challenge to rapidly scale, Edubook chose the power of the cloud.
Edubook is now providing a social learning community that offers an interactive educational experience connecting school administrators, students, teachers, and parents to collaborate anytime, anywhere in a safe environment on both web and mobile.
Traditionally, mid-sized businesses used to live in the shadow of their bigger competitors when it came to technology and best practices. They lacked the budgets needed to implement the latest technologies. Cloud computing has changed this forever, creating a level playing field in which SMEs can have equal access to the latest technology and all its benefits.
Recently, the Saudi Arabia Federation for Cyber Security Programming launched a series of technology initiatives worth over $1.2 billion aimed at improving the digital skills of 100,000 Saudi youngsters by 2030. The initiative also covers an SME loan guarantee program, Kafalah, which aims to provide up to 90 percent insurance of the financing value with a volume of SR15 million ($4 million), so that technology SMEs can have a financial fund to cover their expansion plans and implement them.
These are steps in the right direction to help build a strong local technology talent pool and provide adequate financial assistance to help tech entrepreneurs succeed and eventually help achieve Saudi Arabia’s national economic goals.
With unmatched speed, scalability and flexibility enabling businesses to develop and innovate, cloud technology will play a vital role in ensuring the success of Saudi Arabia’s tech entrepreneurs. Modern cloud solutions help companies meet the challenges of the digital age. Instead of managing their information technology, SMEs can instead respond quickly to a more fast-paced and complex business landscape.
• Fahad Al-Turief is managing director, Saudi Arabia, and vice president of Cloud, Saudi Arabia, and LEENA Markets at Oracle.
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