Branded as ‘a conference with a difference,’ the event was organised by Initiative, a UAE-based media communications network and examined the challenges and opportunities presented to industry operators in a digital age that is characterised by networking on the move.
Promoted under the tagline ‘#LetsTalkMobile,’ the conference was the latest in Initiative’s series of interactive gatherings for its ‘Initiatives Talks’ platform, which invites discussion and debate about the region’s telecommunications landscape. Among those attending were media representatives, marketing executives, key stakeholders and decision makers with a vested interest in discovering the latest in mobile communication trends.
“This is an age of rapid change for telecommunications, with new patterns of behaviour constantly supplanting ones that have only just been established. While this is exciting, it is also challenging for industry operators wanting to reach an audience,” said Ramzy Abouchacra, Regional Managing Director for Initiative in the GCC. “We recognised that there was a need to disseminate information about the ever-evolving landscape of telecommunications, particularly with regard to smartphone technology, which is growing exponentially. We believe our Initiative Talks platform fulfils this need and is an important knowledge resource for the region,” he added.
The Initiative Talks programme of conferences is the fruit of extensive research undertaken by the organisation across the pan-Arab region examining behaviour, trends and predicted outcomes for mobile data use. The high quality of information gathered through their quantitative and qualitative research has seen Initiative partner with major telecommunications operators, including Etisalat UAE, Mobily KSA and Etisalat Egypt to provide them with strategic direction.
“Initiative Talks is a thought leadership platform that aims to share with our partners the various learnings that we have accumulated throughout the pursuit of managing our client partner’s business,” said Faysal Zok, Managing Director at Initiative. “Each programme aims to shed light on key trends and provides in-depth analysis of consumer behaviour vis-à-vis these trends. This year’s event is focused on the telecommunications and mobile industry, specifically, the mobile experience and its new emergent technologies, while allowing space for our partners to express their perspectives in that regard,” he added.
The Initiative Talks’ programme included an analysis of the mobile experience from Sarah Ivey, Initiative Global Chief Strategy Officer, whose presentation discussed the statistics for mobile device use across the MENA region. These revealed, among other things, that KSA were the keenest on-line shoppers, with 40 per cent of smartphone users in the country purchasing goods and services from home.
Customers in the UAE were more than twice as likely as those in KSA to check on-line product reviews using their device at home and also led the way in comparing prices and looking up product specifications from the comfort of their living rooms. Smartphone users in Egypt were found to be least likely to shop and check product information from home. Ivey’s research also looked at the phenomenon of smartphone take-up, with the results showing that the UAE and KSA had a very high number of early adopters, but also that there are few reliable mobile shopping websites or payment applications in these markets.
“Early adopter markets have users who are highly active and engaged and therefore have higher usage levels across most smartphone activities compared with more mature markets whose usage is diluted by Mr and Mrs Average,” said Ivey. “However, early adopters don’t explain the entire disparity in the markets. Practical factors, such as infrastructure availability and network reliability also influence consumers’ smartphone take-up and use,” she added.
Established in 2001, Initiative Media Middle East forms part of the Middle East Communications Network, one of the largest communications groups in the MENA region. Initiative operates with a network of over one hundred media specialists and has offices in Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Jeddah, Cairo, Beirut and Morocco. Other MCN group affiliate offices include Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Jordan, Syria, Tunisia and Algeria.
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