Cloud technology to grow in the next three years in the Mena region

February 19, 2014 12:36 pm talks to Ahmed ElShrif, director for the Middle East region at Kronos Incorporate, about its benefits, shortcomings and more
By Maha El Gazzar
What is the adoption rate for businesses in the region when it comes to cloud technologies? And, what can be done to improve the growth rate?

Although cloud computing has shown a faster adoption rate in the Western world, the Middle East region is quickly catching up, as the demand for these solutions is starting to rise. The US-based research firm Frost & Sullivan reveals that the Gulf market for data centres earned $231.7 million in 2012 and it expects revenues to surpass $705m by 2018.

To improve the growth rate, companies, firstly, need to understand the numerous benefits that cloud technologies provide. They allow companies to focus their resources, including IT, on the execution of core business initiatives, rather than concentrating on IT-related tasks. Cloud-based solution providers can take the responsibility of application deployment and on-going support. They can also enable the sharing of best practices between both existing customers and the solution provider.

Other benefits include higher system/data availability, quicker ROI/Time to value, and easier roll out of new legislative, functional and technological requirements.

Another way the growth rate can be improved is by passing legislations and service level agreements to support and protect organisations hosting their data and systems from outside of their premises.


How do you see the cloud shaping up in the next three years in the Mena region?

A recent report by Gartner predicts that, from 2013 to 2017, $4 billion will be spent on cloud services in the Mena region, of which $1.1bn will be spent on business process as a service (known as ‘BPaaS’). In addition, market research firm International Data Corporation recently revealed that the UAE’s cloud market is primed for annual compound growth of 43.7 per cent until 2016.

This proves cloud computing will expand dramatically in Gulf countries in the next few years. Practical concerns that were hampering the wider adoption of cloud technologies will be further addressed, and they will be used to drive growth and innovation throughout organisations.

Moreover, with the recent announcement of major IT company strategies around the cloud, including those by Microsoft, SAP and Oracle, we will see cloud solutions emerging across all areas of business efficiency and right down to desktop for individual users.

This is great news for Kronos, as we see more companies embracing workforce management and deploying it on the cloud. Kronos empowers organisations through end-to-end workforce management, by providing solutions in the cloud, controlling labour costs, minimising compliance risk and improving workforce productivity, without overburdening IT resources.


What shortcomings do you associate with cloud technologies?

One of the key requirements for cloud technologies, which might be seen as a disadvantage by some, is the need for fast and reliable connectivity. However, with the UAE’s fast-moving ‘Smart City’ initiatives and the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, to enable WiFi in all parts of Dubai, this seems like an unlikely hurdle for the region.

It is imperative that the end customer has a strong change management and business transformation skills in place, as part of the joint engagement with the cloud-solution provider. Typically in a cloud deployment, the vendor will manage a larger percentage of the overall implementation, so it is important that key business stakeholders are involved every step of the way to help plan and manage the change.


What mistakes are companies making when using cloud technologies?

The common mistake when considering cloud is to solely look at it from a technology perspective. Apart from facilitating your IT resources, using the cloud can help your company to improve its day-to-day processes, by allowing it to focus on its core business initiatives.

For example, at Kronos, we provide companies with the Kronos Cloud, so that they can maintain complete control over all of their workforce management functions with minimal day-to-day system administration. We help them to achieve IT efficiencies and channel their critical resources towards core business goals.

Another common mistake is looking only at short term, instead of developing a long-term cloud strategy. Companies must ensure that they manage change through the project and also post live – ie provide the right business level support for the end user.


What is the biggest misconception about cloud technologies in the region?

A big misconception is the idea that an organisation will lose control and security of their data and processing systems.

It is actually quite the opposite. Not only will companies save on hardware and administrative costs, they will also have the security of back-up data and systems available anywhere and anytime, to meet their compliance, recovery and retention requirements.