The Internet of Things 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, an analyst said. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: The internet of things (IoT) investment in the Middle East and Africa region is expected to grow 20.7 per cent to $7 billion (Dh25.7 billion) in 2016 compared to $5.8 billion this year.

Paul Black, IoT research lead for MEA at research firm International Data Corporation (IDC), said that IoT is part of every business discussion and digital transformation is driving operational efficiency, increasing employee productivity, garnering greater customer loyalty and creating new revenue streams.

“As digitisation accelerates, cutting edge infrastructure will increase a country’s GDP (gross domestic product), reduce spending and create jobs. It will allow governments to extend the reach and impact of public services by converting insights into action,” he said.

IDC, Cisco and GBM outlined the vital key steps that organisations in the Middle East will need to implement in order to become fully digital in a bid to embrace the IoT era.

Black said that IoT 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 countries become more competitive on the global stage. Having the right digital ecosystem in place will be a necessity to achieve any of these things.

According to IDC, 32 per cent of UAE enterprises and 48 per cent of Saudi enterprises are planning significant investments in IoT over the next three years.

Black said that the IoT is going to define how enterprises globally conduct their business over the next three years. Organisations in the Middle East and Africa are projected spend more than their global counterparts by 2018 on IoT implementations and projects.

In MEA, he said that IoT spend is projected to grow by 22 per cent between 2013 and 2018 compared to the 18 per cent globally.

“As we move into an era of complete digitisation we need to rethink how we approach national infrastructure on a grand scale. Digitisation has the potential to create sustainable and positive impact for every area of society,” said Rabih Dabboussi, General Manager of Cisco UAE.

He added that Cisco’s Country Digitisation Acceleration (CDA) strategy is a long-term commitment to a partnership with national leadership, industry and academia to deliver real outcomes faster and more effectively. It aims to accelerate the national digitisation agenda to grow GDP, create new jobs and invest in a sustainable innovation ecosystem across public and private sectors.

At its core, Dabboussi said that Country digitisation 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”.

Public-private partnerships (PPPs) are also on to be “the key in shaping IoT business growth” and Middle East countries will need to utilise public-private partnerships to support their digital transformation agendas, industry experts said.

Hani Nofal, vice-president for Intelligent Network Solutions at GBM, said that security is key to digital transformation. With security issues surrounding the internet now the number one priority in the digital era, more and more organisations in the Middle East are increasingly seeing the value of adopting an end to end security approach that is as pervasive as the Internet of Everything (IoE) itself.

“Cybersecurity solutions need to protect not just networks and devices, but also critical applications and data. Identity-based user and device authentication is critical to securing applications and data across mobile and cloud deployments,” he said.