Rise of the Digital Services sector in MENA

16 Aug 2015

The Middle East is one of the fastest growing emerging markets in the world. As the region becomes more digitally connected, demand for Digital Services and technologies is also becoming more prominent. Compared with global trends, many aspects of Digital Services are underserved in the Middle East region, with many services either absent or immature. Demand in the region for new services – even those which have been successful elsewhere globally – is unproven; particularly consumer willingness to pay for services. Services include the digitization of student and teacher resources and ICT training, eLearning resources for school students as well as life-long learning resources.

The application of these services is seen in Government sector, Health services, Education, Transportation, Retail markets and utility services provided by the government. The private sector has also invested into using these digital services in their financial and professional services. The impact of these digital services can be seen in social needs also in the sectors of news and media, business community forums, tourism, philanthropy and entertainment. New technologies provide governments with the means to directly engage with their constituents, becoming more accessible and transparent. Many governments have not yet capitalised on technologies like social media that allow for two-way communication channels; they continue to focus on one-way means to issue official announcements.

The Middle Eastern telecommunications market is going through a transitional shift demonstrated by changing business models on the back of high smartphone penetration rates and a slowdown in revenue growth. The modern mobile customer is influenced by a “connected culture” brought upon by growth of smart devices and availability of high-speed mobile broadband. Consumers’ need to remain connected, informed and entertained continually, changing consumer consumption patterns and increasing demand of digital content has proven to be insatiable. A number of initiatives by several Arab countries for development of digital content will further eliminate the limited non-availability of Arabic content across platforms.

The Middle East is characterised by highly adaptive generations with active two-way exchanges of ideas and behaviour that means populations are moving at a faster pace than governments. Ability to understand psychographic, geographic, demographics of consumers; improve quality of service, decrease network downtime and increase customer satisfaction, and moreover, effectively communicate with customers anytime, anywhere will be a key element in promoting the adoption of mobile content services over the next couple of years. In an expanding digital ecosystem, opportunities are increasing for collaboration and cooperation with new world players who can offer an exciting, alternative array of services.

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