When it comes to digital transformation, there is little doubt of Saudi Arabia’s ambitions.
Not only has the Kingdom made huge progress in digitising e-government services, but private sector organisations in Saudi have been investing heavily in digital transformation.
Digital transformation ramping up in Saudi
According to the latest Tech Survey Saudi Arabia report, 80% of organisations in the Kingdom are at an advanced stage of their digital transformation strategies, with technology professionals demonstrating a more resilient, and forward-looking attitude than their global peers, said Robert Ptaszynski, Head of Digital & Innovation at KPMG in Saudi Arabia.
More than 340,000 people currently work in the digital, telecoms and IT sectors in Saudi, with female participation now standing at 32.5%, a higher rate than both the EU and Silicon Valley.
Alongside this, state and foreign investment has poured into Saudi in recent years and months. Since the start of 2023, the Kingdom has attracted more than US$9 billion in investments in future technologies, including by tech giants Microsoft, Oracle, Zoom and Huawei, which are all building cloud regions in Saudi.
Little wonder then that Saudi is ranked fourth globally and second among the G20 members in its level of preparedness in digital systems.
This is in large part thanks to its robust regulatory framework, which has been implemented in line with the goals outlined by the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, to diversify the Kingdom away from its dependence on oil.
Saudi Aramco is central to the Kingdom’s digital transformation journey
Central to this vision, and to the Kingdom’s digital transformation journey, is state-owned oil and gas giant Saudi Aramco – the largest company in Saudi and the MENA region, and the second-largest company by market cap in the world.
The oil giant recently announced record profits of US$161.1 billion for 2022, a staggering 46.5% rise from 2021, and the largest annual profit ever achieved by an oil and gas company.
Aramco, which produces 10% of the world’s oil, is undergoing huge transformation as it looks to not only ramp up production capacity due to increasing demand, but also double down on investments in lower-carbon technologies and digital technologies.
“We believe digital transformation is pivotal to the future of the oil and gas industry,” Aramco says on its website. “Not only will digitalisation allow for greater efficiency, but it is spurring innovation, building a digital-savvy workforce and will create new employment opportunities.”
Embarking on a digital transformation programme in 2017, Aramco now has five innovation centres focused on developing and utilising Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies, and supporting leading digital innovators, researchers, and entrepreneurs.
Saudi Arabia chief executive Amin Nasser said recently that Aramco plans to invest US$1.9bn in digital transformation over the next three years, as it looks to become a data-driven and digital leader making it the company’s biggest investment in digital to date.
Collaboration with Samsung and others to leverage technologies
As part of its plans to facilitate the digital transformation of the Kingdom, Aramco has announced this week a collaboration with Samsung Electronics, to localise 5G technology.
The proposed collaboration will leverage advanced 4G and 5G technologies capable of providing secure, fast, and reliable communication.
This agreement follows the recent launch by Aramco of its digital transformation program and signing of US$7.2 billion in agreements.
In January, the oil major unveiled Aramco Digital Company, an entity that aims to accelerate digital transformation within the Kingdom and the wider MENA region.
“The launch of Aramco Digital Company is a great example of innovation in action, providing state-of-the-art AI and emerging technology expertise in a vital sector of the economy,” Ahmad Al-Sa’adi, EVP of Technical Services at Saudi Aramco, said at the launch.
The entity has already signed digital partnership deals worth more than US$7bn with more than 100 local and international technology partners, including Zoom, Taulia inc., DHL, and Accenture.
The oil major’s partnership with Zoom aims to build the communications technology firm’s first global data centre in Saudi Arabia, serving the Kingdom and the region, while its collaboration with Accenture will focus on building system integration and digital solution services for Aramco.
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