New Report Reveals How ICT Is Helping to Transform Businesses in Qatar
A new report—Qatar’s ICT Landscape 2016: Business—shows that 83 percent of business establishments surveyed believe their businesses have benefited from ICT, with nearly half saying that ICT helps them access customers in new geographies and expand their potential market. Improved quality of products and services was cited as a key benefit by 37 percent of surveyed businesses, followed by faster delivery (30%) and better customer relationship management (23%).
In addition, following the worldwide trend, the ICT industry is helping to fuel the growth and diversification of Qatar’s economy. While the ICT industry in Qatar is still mainly import dependent, all leading ICT products and services are currently available in Qatar, mainly through resellers and service providers.
The ICT enterprises (close to 550 estimated to be operating in Qatar) have largely benefited from ICT-related government projects and view the government as a key driver in the future growth of the sector. Eighty-three percent of the ICT enterprises in Qatar reported having worked with government organizations at least once between 2012 and 2014, and about one-quarter reported working on more than 10 government projects. Moving forward, the economic growth of Qatar (27%) and the increasing use of IT solutions in all industries (25%) were cited by the ICT industries interviewed as the top two drivers of ICT industry expansion in Qatar. In addition, nearly 40 percent of the ICT enterprises also reported that government initiatives, the FIFA World Cup, and the Qatar National Vision 2030 also play a critical role in driving the ICT market.
These and other findings are part of this broad-based research study that examines the current levels of ICT access and usage among businesses in Qatar and measures the development of the ICT sector. The study, based on a large-scale survey of 1,093 business establishments spread across industry sectors, was conducted between March 2015 and May 2015. In addition, in-depth, face-to-face interviews were conducted with 300 ICT providers during that same period.
The report estimates the business sector in Qatar at 44,439 business establishments (excluding specific government bodies) employing 1,233,110 people. Overall, a review of the ICT landscape shows that since 2010, Internet penetration has shown a steady increase and currently stands at 70 percent among business establishments in 2015, while computer penetration has remained flat and is at 76 percent in 2015. Web presence nearly doubled from 20 percent in 2010 to 39 percent in 2015; however it has remained relatively flat since 2012.
Much progress can be observed in terms of increased online activities, including use of online marketing and customer support, e-banking, social media, and e-government services. In particular, the Internet activities that have shown a great deal of growth at business establishments include marketing products and services online, increasing from 27 percent in 2012 to 42 percent in 2015; and providing online customer service, with an increase from 15 percent to 36 percent during the same period.
In addition, at least half of the business establishments using the Internet reported being satisfied with the speed and reliability of Internet services. Business establishments were least satisfied with the cost of IT products and services (31% of respondents were satisfied), the availability of desired telecom services (33% satisfied), and the cost of Internet services (38% satisfied). Business establishments identified key areas where government support is expected in the future including improvement of ICT infrastructure, cited by 54 percent, and development of ICT skills (37%.)
The report identifies e-commerce as a major area of potential growth in Qatar. Overall, about 12 percent of business establishments surveyed reported receiving and 8 percent reported placing orders over the Internet. As the survey results indicated, businesses continue to use the traditional methods of doing business. The 73 percent of businesses not receiving orders over the Internet cited the industry norm of taking physical orders as the biggest barrier.
In spite of a great deal of progress, challenges still exist in terms of growth in the ICT industry and business establishments getting the maximum benefit from ICT. These include:
- Government policies and the registration process, at 20 percent, is the top inhibitor to growth in the ICT industry cited by survey respondents.
- Although awareness of cloud service has increased exponentially—from 14 percent in 2012 to 76 percent in 2015—usage is minimal at 3 percent overall.
- Only 3 percent of the business establishments surveyed currently have a mobile application. However, 9 percent of businesses without a mobile app stated their plan to launch one in the next 12 months.
- R&D expenditures of ICT enterprises in Qatar are low, inhibiting innovation. Ten percent of ICT enterprises reported that they invested in R&D activities in 2014, and among those investing in R&D a majority (57%) of them spent less than 5 percent of their annual revenue for R&D in 2014 in Qatar.
- Overall, only 15 percent of the business establishments in Qatar reported the presence of a documented and internally published ICT security policy. However, almost three-quarters of business establishments report using one or more security software solutions, and 42 percent have an archiving/back-up policy that is documented and published internally.
- A dedicated resource for ICT security was employed by 17 percent of business establishments, with the highest percentages in the information and communications (58%) and banking and financial services (56%) sectors.
The full report can be viewed here.