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Dell Technologies Digital Transformation Index reveals the digital hopes and fears of UAE & KSA business leaders


At GITEX 2018, Dell EMC revealed the findings of its recent Dell Technologies Digital Transformation Index (the DT Index). The DT Index, which was completed in collaboration with Intel, maps digital transformation progress of mid to large-sized companies and examines the digital hopes and fears of business leaders. 

Based on responses from business leaders in the UAE and KSA, only four per cent of these businesses see themselves as Digital Leaders. 87 per cent agree or strongly agree that digital transformation initiatives need to be even more wide-spread throughout their organisations.

Barriers to digital transformation

According to the research, 90% of businesses in the UAE and KSA are facing significant roadblocks to their digital transformation initiatives today. 

The top five barriers to digital transformation are:

  1. Data privacy and cybersecurity concerns – 42%
  2. Lack of the right in-house skill sets and expertise – 30.7%
  3. Information overload – 29.3%
  4. Regulation or legislative changes – 28.7%
  5. Lack of budget and resources – 26.7%

Mohammed Amin, Senior Vice President, Middle East, Turkey and Africa at Dell EMC, said: “The inputs from the UAE and Saudi Arabia paint a picture of a region that is well-aware of the criticality of transformation, and vocal about the need for more widespread transformational initiatives across their organisations. While the challenges ahead are acknowledged and focus areas are prioritised accordingly, the overall view towards technology and its potential for the region remains optimistic.”

Conquering their challenges

The research indicates that businesses are taking steps to overcome their barriers, and only 32% strongly agree they’ll disrupt rather than being disrupted within five years. Although progress in these areas is patchy/slow in the UAE and KSA, we see that:

  • 52% are using digital technologies to accelerate new product/services development (down by less than 1% from 2016)
  • 48% are striving to develop the right skills sets and expertise in-house, such as teaching staff how to code (up from 31% in 2016)
  • 46% of businesses are building security and privacy into all devices, applications and algorithms (down from 53% in 2016)
  • 44% are embracing agile software development, allowing them to code and securely launch new applications within much shorter cycles (an increase from 33% in 2016)

Companies are also turning to emerging technologies and cybersecurity to power (and secure) their transformation. 

Planned investments within the next one to three years: 

  • 58% of regional businesses intend to invest in cybersecurity
  • 52% of businesses intend to invest in IoT technologies
  • 45% of businesses intend to invest in Flash technology

A small but significant number of businesses are even planning to experiment with nascent technologies. 21% will be investing in VR/AR, 20% in quantum computing, and 11% in blockchain.

DT Index Leader Board

Two years after the DT Index’s initial launch in 2016, Dell Technologies and Intel have more than doubled the scope of the research, from 16 countries to 42 and benchmarked 4,600 businesses, using the following groupings:



2018 analysis 

2016 analysis 

Digital Leaders

Digital transformation, in its various forms, is ingrained in the DNA of the business



Digital Adopters

Have a mature digital plan, investments and innovations in place



Digital Evaluators

Cautiously and gradually embracing digital transformation; planning and investing for the future



Digital Followers

Very few digital investments; tentatively starting to plan for the future



Digital Laggards

Do not have a digital plan, limited initiatives and investments in place




While there is minimal growth in the Digital Leadership group, the Digital Transformation Index has tracked dynamic movement across other groups. For instance, 27% of businesses now are categorised as Digital Adopters (a rise from 12% in 2016). These companies have advanced digital plans and innovations in place to power their transformation.

However, the Digital Transformation Index also reveals many companies are in the bottom two groups meaning they’re either moving too slowly or don’t even have a digital plan in place.

Research methodology

Independent research company, Vanson Bourne surveyed 4600 business leaders from mid to large-size companies, across 42 countries to gauge their organisations’ place on the Dell Technologies Digital Transformation Index. Vanson Bourne classified businesses’ digital business efforts by examining their IT strategy, workforce transformation initiatives and perceived performance against a core set of digital business attributes.

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