|26 April, 2019

Digital transformation to boost SMB businesses in UAE

SMBs in the UAE play a pivotal role in job creation

Close up of hacker hand work on laptop. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Close up of hacker hand work on laptop. Image used for illustrative purpose.

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UAE - Small to Medium-sized Business (SMB) sector in the UAE needs to adopt digital transformation quicker to save cost and time, industry experts have said.

They said that digitisation would help entrepreneurs to channelise their resources effectively to minimise operational cost and enhance efficiency.SMBs in the UAE play a pivotal role in job creation, innovation, exports and re-exports and contribute about 95 per cent of enterprise population in the UAE. The sector is implementing digital and IT solutions including enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) systems. The ERP allows organisations to use a system of integrated applications to manage the business and automate many back office functions. The CRM system enables businesses to manage business relationships and the data and information associated with them.

Swami Natarajan, senior director, strategy and business development, Oracle EMEA, said: "SMB has a unique opportunity to transform in a way that large enterprises can't. Where they're burdened with complex, sprawling legacy systems, SMBs have the agility and nimbleness to get ahead. By combining the connective capabilities of cloud applications with transformative technologies built in from the very beginning, SMBs can begin their digital transformation from inside out. The business model change that is disrupting all industry segments gives a major boost to SMBs to leap frog their growth through digital transformation."

The government in the UAE clearly supports SMBs by fostering an environment that enables them with increasing number of co-working spaces, ease of opening businesses and many places also provide training for skills that will needed to be successful around transformation.

Jyoti Lalchandani, group vice-president and regional managing director, Middle East, Turkey & Africa, IDC, said: "Digital Transformation when it comes to the SMB segment is largely focused around operational efficiencies and retention of customers. Adopting digital transformation can be a challenge especially around evaluating aspects such as the vision to build a roadmap, management of data quality and use of technology for scalability. However, SMBs can be far more agile especially around use cloud and enterprise mobility to better streamline processes and engage with both customers and partners. There is a growing startup ecosystem as well be it in finance, ecommerce or retail and when it comes to transformation the ease in procuring technology is critical. Increasingly, we see telcos rolling out services that can cater to SMBs especially around security."

Tamer Elsawy, director, IBM Cloud and Cognitive Software, IBM Middle East and Pakistan, said: A lot of SMBs in the UAE realised early enough the value of digital transformation to cater for rapid market changes and new disruptive business models. The need for a clear digital transformation agenda is becoming evident for those who want to adopt new business models that leverage the power of digitised business and capitalise on emerging technologies, and in turn, maximise business outcome, to increase operation efficiency, and improve customer experience." Elsawy, further added: "Those SMBs were lucky enough to leverage the huge emphasis the UAE government has on enabling digital transformation and the investment to build one of the most advanced and world class digital infrastructures. Nevertheless, many SMBs are still struggling to understand digital transformation and the impact it could have on their business. They are still operating under the assumption that they could sustain the same success and maintain customer loyalty without keeping pace with the competitive market demands and expectations."

Microsoft is aggressively exploring every area of the UAE economy to empower citizens, businesses as they forge ahead in the process of building smart nation. Jean-Philippe Courtois, executive vice president and president, global sales, marketing and operations, Microsoft, said: "We are driving digital transformation across all sectors and industries, from startups to governments enabling them to make the most out of Microsoft solutions to empower their employees, engage customers, optimise operations and transform products and services. There are some great examples on the work we've done in terms of digital transformation such as the Dubai Electric and Water Authority that is utilising AI to better automate processes. We have also partnered with Dubai's Area 2071 and the Mubadala Hub71 in Abu Dhabi to incubate startups. And also, the work we're doing with Emaar is an example across retail, construction and malls is very exciting. So, we see a lot of opportunities throughout to innovate here in Dubai."

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