Digital transformation in the GCC: How can companies adapt and thrive?

The imperative for businesses is to engineer new products, services and connected experiences that transform relationships with customers



Business leaders across the GCC region share a common challenge: how to create business models and transformative experiences that improve customers’ lives, drive growth and boost profitability.

As economic conditions strengthen, UAE government initiatives ease business investment, e-commerce across the Middle East expands, and organisations – particularly in the financial services sector – identify digital business transformation as a means to competitive differentiation, it is apparent that this is a pivot moment for the region.

This critical pivot, though, is about more than just unlocking value through the growth and efficiencies that emerging technologies enable. Enterprises that are new and digitally native, or are established and highly adaptive, understand the profound and rapid change taking place in the world and are in step with it – reimagining their business and re-orienting their people around the technologies that define how, where and when they meet their customers.

It is ‘how’ businesses seize their space that is core to an understanding of the power of digital business transformation – and that is as true for established organisations as it is for ‘box fresh’ businesses.

An early driver of digital business transformation was the need to deliver superior customer experiences. That remains a critical element today, as consumers now expect a seamless and personalised customer experience from every brand interaction, whether physical or digital.

In industries as diverse as retail, automotive, energy, travel and hospitality, as well as financial services, the shared imperative is to engineer new products, services and connected experiences that transform relationships with customers.

A radically improved drive-through experience for a fast food giant, frictionless multichannel shopping experience for a global retailer, or AI-powered test drive conversion for an automaker across 100-plus countries – these are the transformational solutions keeping businesses relevant for their customers, while delivering growth and efficiencies for the enterprise.

Business leaders who set a course for their digitally-enabled future form – both in the way they work and serve their customers – are transformational leaders. We’ve witnessed great success from these leaders who view digital transformation as a large-scale startup, which continues to evolve over time, adding new functionality and incremental changes as a reaction to customer, business and market demands. This ability to continually pivot and improve is at the heart of digital transformation.

A confluence of economic, regulatory and technological factors unique to the GCC states provides the ready conditions for an ecosystem of innovation to thrive.

As the public-private partnerships (PPP) model evolves and expands, bringing in sectoral and technical private-sector expertise, GCC economies and domestic workforces will continue to diversify. The opportunity is for private-sector participation and technology partnerships that seize the space that true digital transformation affords and to reimagine new businesses, industries and economies.

Nigel Vaz is the CEO of Publicis Sapient