Research company International Data Corporation (IDC) recently announced its annual predictions for 2014 for the Middle East’s information and communications technology (ICT) industry.
IDC’s predictions reflect the ongoing factors that will set the trend for the region’s ICT development. Experts anticipate that the trickle-down effect of these predictions will initiate a change within a variety of industries, such as government, healthcare, logistics, and finance.
“Organizations will be faced with a growing need to adapt in 2014 as effects of the 3rd Platform continue to disrupt and change industries in the region,” says Jyoti Lalchandani, group vice president and regional managing director for IDC in the Middle East, Africa, and Turkey.
“We anticipate that major players in the region will make significant investments to enhance their infrastructure as they look to scale up their cloud and Big Data capabilities. In this context, securing data will become more vital than ever before.”
IDC’s predictions for 2014 include the following:
The Middle East will feature among the fastest growing IT markets in the world, with spending exceeding $32 billion in 2014 – Spending on IT products and services in the Middle East will increase 7.3% year on year in 2014 to top $32 billion. Consumers, the public sector, and the communications and financial services verticals are expected to be the biggest IT spenders in the region, contributing nearly 74% of the Middle East’s total IT expenditure in 2014. Public sector investments in improving government services, education, and healthcare services will continue to be key drivers in the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
Smart City Dubai rollout will lead to an acceleration of similar initiatives in other GCC countries – Smart city initiatives have gained momentum in the GCC in recent years with three countries announcing projects for future smart cities: the six economic cities in Saudi Arabia, the three projects in Qatar (Lusail’s Smart and Sustainable City, Pearl-Qatar Island, and Energy City Qatar), and two projects in the UAE (Masdar City in Abu Dhabi and Smart City Dubai). IDC expects the total spending on machine-to-machine (M2M) connections in the GCC countries to increase 19% year on year in 2014 to reach $224 million.
‘Multi-channel’ strategies will drive citizen/resident services penetration and usage in the GCC; ‘Mobile’ will be a game changer – IDC predicts that a shift in government channel strategies and tactics in the GCC will increase the preference for electronic self-service transactions. Mobile devices will increasingly be a key facilitator of these interactions. Much progress has been made by countries such as Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar in the automation and provisioning of online transactional government services.
Governments will focus on strengthening security for national information assets, expanding the agencies that monitor and protect the national frontline against cyberattacks – The Middle East has become a hotspot for cyber war, as evidenced by the high-profile breaches of key energy and government assets that have taken place in recent times, the defacing of government websites by ‘hacktivists’, and the ongoing attacks on banks and financial services organizations.
Small-screen and low-cost options, together with rapidly growing demand from the commercial sector, will shape tablet adoption – Tablets with smaller screen sizes will see growing demand and are expected to account for approximately 55% of tablet shipments to the Middle East in 2014. Low-cost tablets running on the Android operating system will also gain growing acceptance in the market. Several large-scale initiatives within the education sector are expected to be delivered in the region, including planned investments by the governments of Egypt, the UAE, and Qatar.
Acceptance of cloud will accelerate, with private cloud and software-as-a-service (SaaS) adoption dominating investment plans – In 2014, some organizations are expected to start realizing that they can derive even greater benefits from a full-fledged private cloud implementation.