A practical guide to GCC corporate digitization

Beyond strategies and road maps


Despite good intentions, few companies in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries have successfully implemented a digital transformation strategy. They need now to move from a conceptual appreciation of the importance of digitization to a focus on execution.

Several obstacles or misjudgments have hindered progress. Rather than concentrating on the commercial goal of the digital transformation, too many companies have fixated on the technology itself, which soon becomes obsolete in a fast-moving environment. Moreover, the prevailing corporate culture has often worked against fundamental change, being incapable of generating and supporting new ideas. For their part, leaders have typically shied away from the inevitable risks associated with digital transformation.

There are five ways in which companies can catalyze the successful execution of a digital transformation strategy.

First, companies need to define precisely what they are trying to achieve from their investment in digital technologies. Their attention should be directed to one specific area for development, while defining which financial measure the investment is intended to improve.

Second, they need to introduce a performance management system that bases investment decisions on objective criteria rather than on self-interested motives, previous commitments, or the fear of failure.

Third, companies should identify who is in charge of the transformation program and ensure that all projects ultimately serve the chosen objective. Unclear lines of authority lead to inertia, while initiating disparate projects without an overarching purpose creates confusion. Senior management should either make the execution of the digital transformation part of their daily work, or appoint a dedicated chief digital officer (CDO).

Fourth, companies must have the right capabilities within their organizations. They should establish appropriate training programs and incentive schemes, while also recruiting and retaining people with the necessary skills.

Lastly, companies should engage in partnerships with external organizations to access invaluable expertise, knowledge, or experience. 

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Companies need to define the focus area for their digital transformation program after careful and objective analysis of their particular business needs and goals. To increase the chances of success, they need clear lines of authority and enhanced capabilities within the organization. Collaboration and partnerships with third parties can compensate for any lack of internal expertise or information. Once these catalysts for progress are in place, companies can look forward to a purposeful and successful execution of their digital transformation strategy. 

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Jad Hajj

Jad Hajj

Partner, Strategy& Middle East

Sergey Yakimenko

Sergey Yakimenko

Principal, Strategy& Middle East

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