As we usher into the tail end of the first quarter of 2019, it seems appropriate to consider a quick check-in on our resolutions. One that comes to mind is that three quarters of Middle East organisations that have yet to embrace the cloud, plan to do so this year.
That’s just one of the resolutions uncovered by a Microsoft survey that studied insights from 1,300 technology decision makers from across the region. The message is clear: Middle East organisations are accelerating their engagement with cloud computing and related technologies. Two in five said they had adopted artificial-intelligence solutions, and more than one third plan to adopt AI in 2019.
Companies are also allocating an increased proportion of their budgets to digital transformation. Some 72% are planning to spend on AI this year, and almost one in 10 are setting aside more than 10% of their budgets for intelligent solutions.
Further progress was seen in the attitudes of regional organisations towards the security of third-party data centers, previously seen as an obstacle to taking the first steps towards digital transformation. Larger numbers of cloud adopters in 2019 can be explained, at least in part, by the disturbing threat landscape that emerges from the survey results.
Some 63% of respondents said they had lost either productivity or data to an incident in 2018. The alarming figures in news headlines in recent years are now becoming a reality for Middle East businesses. Some 46% of the region’s cyber-victims were affected more than once in 2018; and almost one in 10 victims reported incidents “once a week or more”.
We chose to refer to the findings as the “2019 Middle East Digital Transformation Manifesto”, because we see these findings as a passionate statement of intent. The region is powering through the challenges and opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, determined to come out on top.
Sound cloud infrastructure and complete, trusted platforms not only deliver access to transformative technologies like AI and its associates – IoT, predictive analytics, and machine learning, to name a few – but also offers enterprise-grade performance, data residency, support for regulatory compliance and robust business-continuity options.
Heavy industry, government services, utilities, retail, aerospace, healthcare – it is hard to imagine a field of interest that cannot benefit from a trusted, secure, intelligent cloud.
The region’s governments, in their efforts to encourage innovation and entrepreneurship, recognise that the cloud – with its lower, more predictable costs – is the ideal incubator for start-ups. Compliance measures, low latency and data residency will appeal to healthcare providers trying to enhance patient-care and the quality of R&D; and they will also be a draw for banks and other FSI entities looking to improve customer service and focus investments more prudently.
The model of secure, trusted cloud locations in the Middle East is, indeed, appealing. The benefits are obvious, and we can see the demand is there. Speaking to this demand therefore, Microsoft will be launching two data centers in the United Arab Emirates this year.
Not only will these long-awaited facilities serve the business needs expressed by both business and technology decision makers, including Microsoft partners, but their launch will also act as a catalyst for economic growth and job creation. A recent IDC report reveals the Microsoft ecosystem will create tens of thousands of jobs in the UAE and the rest of the Middle East over the next five years.
While the data centers will certainly play a role in that, we must consider that IDC addresses direct employment in the technology ecosystem only. The World Bank, in a separate analysis, projected that for every technology job created worldwide, 4.3 more are generated across sectors and income groups.
Our deep industry-leading expertise in security, data protection, privacy, transparency, and the broadest set of compliance certifications in the industry, keeps our customers safe, so they can innovate with confidence.
These are the standards we must meet to deliver innovation at scale, and we look forward to playing our part in empowering the region’s governments, businesses and individuals to achieve more.
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