When it comes to digital, the GCC has been pulling its punches, and a full-throttle digital take-off has not quite happened to the extent that it has elsewhere, writes Robert Ledger of Source Global Research.
That may be about to change. In our GCC report last year, a number of interviewees expressed optimism about how digital work was likely to increase. Fast forward a year and that optimism appears to have been well-placed: The volume of digital work has grown sharply to a point where it represented just under 30% of the region’s $3,002m consulting market in 2018.
The region’s diversification agenda is driving much of that increase: Large infrastructure projects–such as Qatar’s 2022 World Cup preparations and the 2020 Dubai Expo–are proving to be catalysts for digital uptake, and digital government initiatives have picked up speed. Added to which, unlike in many more mature economies, the absence of legacy systems means there are fewer headwinds than there are elsewhere holding back the realisation of digital initiatives.
Still, the size and rate of expansion of digital work is not quite at a level many had hoped it would be by now. For all the legacy it has to contend with, the digital consulting market in the UK now represents almost half of all consulting revenues, and the Nordic region follows a similar pattern to the UK. So the GCC is still lagging.
Consultants express some frustration at the pace of change. So, what’s holding back the GCC region from embracing digitisation more fully? Well, for a start there’s the controversial issue of low-wage migrants. GCC countries are notorious for their use of poorly-paid migrants in industries such as construction.1 Migrants constitute more than 80% of the workforce in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and over 95% in the Gulf states.2 The pressures driving digitisation in other regions, such as the quest for greater efficiency, are therefore less prevalent in the GCC.
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Robert Ledger is a leading commentator on the consulting industry specialising in market trends and an editor and writer at Source who provide specialist research on the management consulting market to consultants and their clients.
© Source Global Research 2019. All rights reserved. Reproduced by permission.