Oliver Wyman Highlights The Digital Trends Defining The Future Of The GCC

Dubai, UAE - The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is undergoing a region-wide ‘digital paradigm shift’, according to insights released by global management consulting firm Oliver Wyman.

The new research looks at the eight digital trends defining the GCC’s future which are expected to shape the region in 2022 and beyond.

As evidenced by major deals brokered at last month's LEAP22 conference in Riyadh as well as the agendas of key regional events such as Smart City Expo in Doha, trends such as turbocharged digital transformation investments, citizen-centric e-government services, multi-cloud strategies, forays into the metaverse, and more are setting the scene for a dynamic digital future in the GCC, says the report.

The trends identified by Oliver Wyman are:

1. Investment-powered digital transformation: Ambition backed by hard cash

Across 2022 and beyond, Oliver Wyman expects GCC governments to continue pursuing robust digital transformation strategies, keeping citizen-centered design at the heart of their e-services, exploring more agile development methodologies, and upskilling their workforces for the digital age.

2. Citizen-centric digital services: Private sector innovations inspire e-government’s approach

Private sector competition has made digital service delivery radically more customized, convenient, and human-centered—setting a benchmark the public sector must put at the forefront to keep pace. Oliver Wyman anticipates that government agencies will deepen their digital investments, aiming to meet the standard of service quality set by private companies.

3. The power of ‘cloud-first’: Multi-cloud affords several key advantages

As digital transformation unfolds across the region, the cloud will be a critical enabler of the new platforms, services, and infrastructure that governments and enterprises seek to activate. Oliver Wyman also expects countries to double their investments in cloud technologies, including software-as-a-service, infrastructure-as-a-service, and other "as-a-service" assets.

4. Achieving cyber resilience: A growing problem inspires sector growth

In response to the growing cybersecurity threat, GCC governments have taken measures to enhance their capabilities. According to the ITU Global Cybersecurity Index 2020 (GCI), Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates ranked among the top five globally.  Both Saudi Arabia and UAE have been notably active in their activation of online protection efforts in conjunction with global partners.

5. Future-proof data governance strategies: Early investments reap rewards

Many GCC governments have also strengthened their data regulations and controls. As e-government continues to expand, Oliver Wyman expects GCC governments and enterprises to deepen investments in data management, governance, and protection—not only in the defensive context but also as part of a longer-term, holistic data strategy framework.

6. Expanded AI adoption and innovation: Emerging technologies are coming to the fore

The growing young population in the GCC presents an opportunity for governments and enterprises to provide the robust digital experiences that citizens and consumers alike will increasingly demand. Oliver Wyman expects GCC governments to explore intelligent automation applications further to drive efficiency, promote economic innovation, and revolutionize the quality of public services.

7. A new dawn for digital government currencies: Early indicators point to rising interest and expanding prevalence

While most are currently in their nascent stages, Gulf blockchain-based projects are rapidly developing. Throughout 2022, the GCC's digital currencies and blockchain landscape will continue to evolve, with blockchain innovations extending into fields such as finance, public administration, and supply chain management.

8. Entering the Metaverse: The next big technology platform emerges

Participation in the metaverse is becoming increasingly popular in the Middle East and GCC countries. Oliver Wyman expects the regulatory infrastructure around the metaverse to continue to take shape this year across the region. Regulators must also implement an effective governance structure to build accountability, transparency, and trust around this paradigm-shifting technology, according to the report.

Jad Haddad, Partner & Head of Digital at Oliver Wyman IMEA, said: while these trends may not be unique to the GCC, what is standout is the extent to which the region’s public sector entities are investing in e-government and emerging technologies. These trends are a harbinger of what is to come with public sector digital maturity: both the vast potential such technologies hold, setting the scene for a prosperous and dynamic digital future in the GCC, as well as the grave risks that must be mitigated through robust governance and regulations.

Read the trends in more detail.