Blogs@Cisco Middle East

Country Digitization Is Key for Helping the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Embrace the IoE

By Engineer Mohammad Alabbadi, General Manager Cisco KSA

Over the past 50 years, Internet technology has vastly changed the way people work, live, play and learn not just here in Saudi Arabia but on a global scale as well. Today, computers, mobile devices, homes, cars, clothes, businesses and even cities are all being connected to the global network.

As we move into an era of complete digitization, where technology will connect everything from people, processes and data to things, an era which describe as the ‘Internet of Everything’ (IoE), countries, organizations and people alike will need to rethink how they approach national infrastructure on a grand scale.  Digitization has the potential to create sustainable and positive impact for every area of society. At its core, Country Digitization is the process of planning, and ultimately building, a sophisticated and forward-thinking IT network ecosystem that will allow for greater connectivity, productivity and security to drive this positive impact. 

A study conducted by Cisco Consulting Services, projects that the IoE could generate over SAR 50 Billion ($14.3 Billion) in value for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s public sector over the next decade. The IoE will help the Saudi government create value by saving money, improving employee productivity, generating new revenue and enhancing citizen benefits. The same study identified the top avenues through which government can deliver on this value which include strategies around the following areas: smart grid, cyber security, transportation/travel, mobile collaboration, chronic disease management, payments, counterfeit drug programs, telework, waste management and smart street lighting.

In this year’s World Economic Forum’s Network Readiness Index reported in the Cisco sponsored Global Information Technology Report 2015 (GITR), Saudi Arabia was ranked 35(out of 143 places). Despite dropping 3 places, the Kingdom remains one of the leaders in Network Readiness in the MENAP region, not too far from the other Gulf Cooperation Council members: the UAE (23rd), Qatar (27th), and Bahrain (30th). The drop has been driven mostly by increasing ICT costs although recent improvements in Internet and telephony market competition in the country should reverse this trend.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia can make massive strides towards becoming fully digital, thereby connecting more citizens and bringing about positive social and economic change, by improving its Networked Readiness. With political will and commitment from the private sector, progress can be made in bringing the benefit of information, communication technologies (ICT’s) to more people. That is why it is very promising to see that the government is aware that the Kingdom is ripe for transformation and is taking active steps to position the Kingdom as an attractive environment for global business investments. Technology is at an inflection point and Saudi Arabia’s economy needs to prioritize ICT adoption to take full advantage of the benefits that embracing digital transformation strategies will offer.

As digitization accelerates, cutting edge infrastructure will help to further increase the Kingdom’s GDP, reduce spending and create jobs. It will allow the government to extend the reach and impact of public services by converting insights into action. It will enable new and diverse groups of entrepreneurs to build businesses that will shape the world, whilst providing more accessibility and opportunities for education and technology-based careers. As a result, it will ensure that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia becomes even more competitive on the global stage.

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