IDC CIO Summit explores latest developments in Saudi’s digital economy

By Shilpa Annie Joseph, Official Reporter
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IDC CIO Summit

The 13th annual edition of the IDC Saudi Arabia CIO Summit has explored the current digital landscape and evaluated its pervasive impact on citizens, customers, employees, and operations.

With ICT spending in Saudi Arabia poised to top $34.5 billion this year, International Data Corporation (IDC) hosted more than 1,000 of the Kingdom’s most influential tech leaders and partners at Riyadh’s Fairmont Hotel for the final day of its IDC Saudi Arabia CIO Summit 2023.

The two-day CIO Summit provided a unique platform for senior business and IT heads, prominent technology companies, and respected industry analysts to share their collective expertise around the theme ‘Enabling the Digital Economy’s Leaders’.

Mr. Jyoti Lalchandani, IDC’s group vice president and regional managing director for the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa said that, “To harness the full potential and widespread benefits of the digital economy, governments and businesses must implement strategies to measure and cultivate it. Creating regulatory environments and nurturing talent will be critical to success. Today, technology plays an ever-increasing role in enabling, measuring, and reporting on sustainability initiatives and diversity and inclusion drives, with government and business leaders prioritizing these issues on their digital agendas.”

Jyoti Lalchandani-IDC CIO Summit
Mr. Jyoti Lalchandani, IDC’s Group VP & regional MD for the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa.

IDC’s associate vice president for Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, Mr. Hamza Naqshbandi, opened the day’s proceedings by praising the progress that has been made on the Kingdom’s digital journey.

“Saudi Arabia’s digital economy ambitions are a testament to the nation’s unwavering commitment to embracing the future. With over 52 percent of Saudi organizations transitioning their traditional business models into a digital business approach, the Kingdom is not merely adapting to the new digital world but setting the pace, leveraging the potential of disruptive technologies to revolutionize industries, empower its populace, and propel economic advancement,” stated Mr. Naqshbandi.

IDC’s chief research officer, Ms. Meredith Whalen, presented the event’s keynote, ‘Strategies for the CIO and Enterprise Innovation: AI Everywhere’, during which she provided essential guidance for organizations preparing for the looming omnipresence of generative AI (GenAI).

Meredith Whalen-IDC
Meredith Whalen
Chief Research Officer

“In less than a year, GenAI has captured the attention, imagination, and trepidation of technology and business leaders across the world. However, GenAI is just one part of a broader digital journey that organizations have been on over the past decade. At each stage of this digital journey, new leadership skills have been required to drive the evolution of business models, culture, and technology investments. This new chapter will intensify these demands, with CIOs increasingly playing a key strategic role in driving enterprise-wide growth and creating an environment for long-term sustainable innovation.”

To this end, an enviable lineup of respected expert speakers assessed the current state of the digital economy, addressed key emerging tech-related challenges, and outlined proven best practices and strategies for driving future success. The agenda incorporated a series of fascinating presentations, dedicated CIO-led panel sessions, and technology focus groups addressing a diverse range of topics such as:

  • Strategies for Developing a Digitally Resilient Organization
  • Envisioning the Future Intelligent Enterprise
  • Shaping CISO Strategies for the Digital-First Organization
  • Data- and Platform-Led Strategies for Realizing Digital Outcomes
  • Digital Trust, Identity, and Security Strategies for the Digital-First Organization
  • Talent Development and the Demand for New Skills: Optimizing Team Structure
  • Sustainable Strategies and Technologies: Operationalization, Impact Measurability, Business Value Creation
  • Vendor Selection and Management: Best Practices and What to Look Out For
  • Cyber Protection for the Threats of Today, and Tomorrow: Dynamic Security Strategies to Minimize Risk
  • Connecting the Distributed Cloud: From the Edge to the Core
  • Enabling the Data-Driven Enterprise
  • Transitioning Through AI and Analytics: Winning in the Intelligent Economy

There was also a special guest appearance from Ms. Raha Moharrak, who carved her name in history as both the youngest Arab and first Saudi woman to climb Mount Everest and the Seven Summits. Her achievements align perfectly with the spirit of transformation that drives the summit, and her session inspired attendees to reach for new heights in their own digital journeys.

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