No matter where in the GCC you are, or what sector you work in, you would be hard pushed to ignore the paradigm shift to digital that is now underway throughout the region. Accelerated by a pandemic that forced lockdowns, remote learning, telemedicine, test and trace apps, and work-from-home, the switch to digital has been turbo-charged. Businesses, the public sector, and individuals have rapidly awoken to the power of the cloud.
As Mouteih Chaghlil, CEO of Middle East & Africa, Bespin Global, elaborates, as we immerse ourselves in the digital economy era, some of these new habits are here to stay. Executive education providers are now offering online distance learning – some with hologram technology as a norm; workplaces are transforming to hybrid; medical consultations are tech-enabled; and online shopping and payments are now an everyday occurrence. Global management consultancy Kearney expects the regional e-commerce market to grow 14 percent annually to be worth almost US$50 billion by 2025. This is a market in which nobody can afford to be left behind.
Competitiveness is rising and the likely winners will be the cloud-savvy that unlock growth possibilities from AI and machine learning-enabled data analytics. This advanced technology can empower businesses to discover who their customers really are, what they want, and personalize their offerings to them, as well as safely – and compliantly – store and analyze the huge data volumes involved. Governments meanwhile are focusing on providing citizen-centric e-government services and are scaling-up digital transformation investments as they look to create smart, sustainable communities.
Yet with the huge opportunities the digital era undoubtedly offers, there also comes risks. Cybercrime also grew during the pandemic, with criminals seizing opportunities from the increased, and often unsecured, digital activity. In 2020, the UAE alone saw an increase of at least 250 percent in cyber aggressions, according to Mohamed Al Kuwaiti, head of UAE Government Cyber Security, who labelled the landscape as suffering from a “cybercrime pandemic.” GCC governments have responded with measures to enhance cybersecurity capabilities and ready defenses for anticipated risks from next-generation technologies, such as 5G, IoT, and AI, while the latest ‘State of Email Security Report’ from email security experts Mimecast, says more IT executives in the GCC are looking to automate and upskill their cyber defenses.
And just when we thought all that was enough to deal with, comes the metaverse virtual reality market, the interconnected 3D environment that will revolutionise internet interactions. The metaverse is likely to increase demand for cloud computing services and the virtual reality market in MENA alone is expected to grow at 43.5 percent annually to reach a value of US$23 billion by 2028.
Mr. Mouteih Chaghlil opines that inhouse IT teams – probably already stretched – will become even more so and talent will be increasingly difficult to attract and retain. The cost of on-premise infrastructure – both in terms of capital expenditure and maintenance – will be ever harder on budgets. Highly trusted and credible third-party management will be the cost-effective, always-on solution.
Governments and businesses across the GCC are increasingly recognising the productivity, efficiency, and compliance opportunities that the cloud-enabled fourth industrial revolution holds and are prioritising digital transformation in their growth strategies. PwC estimates AI alone could add US$320 billion to the GCC and Egyptian economies by 2030, while Kearney forecasts that by 2025, more than 40 percent of all ICT investments in the region will be given over to digital transformation efforts and that the cloud will be a vital enabler of the new platforms, services, and infrastructure we can expect to emerge.
This all promises a dynamic digital future in the GCC, with Kearney estimating public cloud spending in the region will more than double by 2024 to be worth US$2.5 billion. According to Mr. Mouteih Chaghlil, this gives credence to Bespin Global’s decision to open the Bespin Cloud Operations Centre in Abu Dhabi. The first-of-its-kind in the region, it is connected to their Cloud Managed Service (CSM) Provider and has an integrated Security Operations Centre. Through Bespin’s CSM, clients can benefit from full support when it comes to accessing always-on expertise, a scalable support system, constant monitoring of technological updates, and increased security. Essentially, it will enable customers to do what they do best without worrying about the rest. Further expanding services to customers, Bespin Global offers Managed Service Provider (MSP) and Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) agreements. Our MSP customers can leverage round-the-clock monitoring of their cloud environments along with immediate actions in response to any changes in the environment. Meanwhile, Bespin Global’s newest offering, the MSSP agreement, takes things a step further by providing cyber resilience, real-time threat monitoring, and incident detection and response. Demonstrating a commitment to promoting digital transformation across the MENA region, the Bespin Academy will spread the knowledge needed for individuals, businesses, and governments to adopt the cloud.
But with the pace of cloud and tech product development often outpacing adoption, users will need expert support to ensure they can optimise the cloud’s offering and maintain their competitive edge, market relevance, operational efficiencies, security, compliance, and business sustainability in the most cost-effective, trusted third-party-and-partner mode. Through Bespin Global’s Abu Dhabi Cloud Operations Centre and Global Training Academy, they provide the infrastructure, expertise, 24/7 support, and all necessary training to empower organizations in the region.
To leverage the huge power of the cloud to help realise the region’s huge transformative potential on the road map to economic diversification, the cloud solutions industry must invest to ensure both public and private sectors have access to the infrastructure and services they need. Only through a partner with validated expertise, knowledge, and tools can they achieve this, and in doing so ensure the cloud’s silver lining shines brighter still.