Overall spending on information and communication technology (ICT) in Saudi Arabia is expected to reach $34.5 billion this year, up 1.0% on 2018.
That’s according to the latest insights, trends, and predictions presented by International Data Corporation (IDC) last week as it hosted the 2019 edition of its annual IDC Directions event at The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh.
The forum brought together more than 100 of the Kingdom’s most influential technology vendors, telecommunications operators, and IT service providers.
Running under the theme ‘Multiplied Innovation: Scaling a Technology Revolution in Saudi Arabia’ , the highly anticipated event explored the emerging trends and priorities that will shape ICT investments in 2019 and beyond. IDC’s group vice president and regional managing director for the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa, Jyoti Lalchandani, opened the event by outlining IDC’s chapters of innovation in the digital economy and contextualizing their relevance to the Kingdom’s ongoing digital transformation.
He explained that cutting-edge technologies are increasingly forming the core of modernization efforts in the Kingdom and that a wave of pan-industry digitalization is set to hit organizations of all sizes, with the future of the ICT presenting pockets of opportunity like never before.
This was followed by the event’s keynote presentation from Hamza Naqshbandi, IDC’s country manager for Saudi Arabia, during which he highlighted the critical role that digital transformation and innovation-accelerating technologies will play in shaping ICT investment decisions over the coming years.
He stressed the vital role that technology will play in enabling some of the most important aspects of the Kingdom’s National Transformation Program (NTP) and its overarching Vision 2030 strategy.
He also identified several areas of opportunity around software and IT services, with IDC anticipating these to be the fastest growing IT markets in Saudi Arabia over the coming years, expanding at five-year compound annual growth rates (CAGRs) of 7.9% and 6.0%, respectively, to reach combined spending of $6.2 billion in 2022.
“As the Kingdom further enhances its digital transformation posture, adoption and use of innovative technologies demanded by the NTP objectives will drive significant ICT spending,” said Naqshbandi.
“While traditional ICT segments like hardware, mobile phones, and telecom services will see a significant slowdown, innovation accelerators and 3rd Platform technologies such as IoT, cloud, mobility, AI, and robotics will continue to offer quick wins for the supply side.”
Naqshbandi explained that use cases around these advanced technology solutions are emerging across Saudi Arabia, reinforcing the significance of these technologies in achieving some of the key NTP and Vision 2030 goals.
He also revealed IDC’s prediction that spending on IoT solutions in the Kingdom will touch $1.5 billion in 2019, while security solutions will attract total spending of more than $400 million. Spending on public cloud, meanwhile, is forecast to cross the $250 million mark in 2019.
“Technology spending momentum will rapidly shift from traditional technologies to transformative solutions, while the ‘doing more with less’ mantra will continue to prevail,” said Naqshbandi. “The Saudi ICT market will show symptoms that are typical of a transforming economy as private sector organizations gear up to keep pace with digital transformation initiatives driven by the government. Developing an effective digital transformation platform that can sustain, advance, and scale business operations may be the most important task facing the Kingdom’s decision makers in 2019 and beyond.”