Gulf countries could generate billions of additional economic output by 2020 by optimising the use of digital skills and technologies, according to a new Accenture report.
Saudi Arabia could add more than $31 billion, the UAE $13.8 billion and Qatar $7.8 billion, said the report which reveals the vast role digital plays in economic activity, with more than one-fifth of the world's gross domestic product (GDP) attributed to some form of digital skills, capital and goods and services.
The Accenture Strategy report estimates the value added to GDP by hardware, software and related technologies and by workers who need these digital assets to do their jobs. It also calculates the value of intermediate digital goods and services used in production.
More than one-fifth (22 percent) of world output is linked to this digital economy of skills and capital, with the US the world's most digital economy, with existing digital investments accounting for 33 percent of its output.
Accenture said 43 percent of the US labour force and 26 percent of its accumulated capital are capable of supporting digital related activity. The digital economy in other markets varies from more than 30 percent in the UK and Australia to 13 percent in China.
"Businesses and governments in the MENA region are turning to digital to secure faster growth amid an uncertain global economic outlook, but the size of the digital economy is no guarantee of growth," said Raymond Makhoul, digital strategy lead for Accenture in the Middle East and North Africa.
"Organisations need to act aggressively in shifting the focus of their digital talent and technology from making efficiencies to creating entirely new business models. That requires not just greater digital investments, but broader organizational and cultural transformation in order to yield the greatest returns."
Accenture calculates that an optimal combination of improvements to digital skills, capital and other accelerators could lift UAE GDP by $13.8 billion by 2020, representing a 2.8 percent boost.
In Saudi Arabia, it estimates a boost of 4.2 percent ($31.4 billion) and a 3.3 percent push in Qatar ($7.8 billion).