IT services opportunities growing in GCC government sector: IDC

The government sectors of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries remain as buoyant as ever for IT services providers, according to the latest research insights from International Data Corporation (IDC).

The recently published report, 'IT Services Opportunities and Challenges in the GCC Government Sector, 2013 and Beyond', rates public sector entities among the region's primary spenders on IT services and highlights the continuing economic recovery as a key driver behind the increasing desire of GCC governments to channel investments toward improving their social infrastructures.

To this end, a number of megaprojects are being carried out in the region to establish new economic cities that are supported by state-of-the-art infrastructure and technologies. At the same time, a number of large projects are currently underway in support of various egovernment and mgovernment initiatives.

"Investments in these projects will drive demand for new IT infrastructure, as well as for the wide array of IT services required for ensuring the smooth running of operations," says Omar Saleem, a senior IT services analyst at IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey. "Most of these projects are expected to be business and IT consulting-led engagements accompanied by larger systems integration projects."

The pressing need to improve citizen-centric services is another key area of focus identified by IDC for each of the GCC governments. Nationwide initiatives are underway in each of the GCC countries aimed at driving investment in egovernment programs that facilitate public services. Meanwhile, a number of government entities have launched modernization drives focused on bringing their IT infrastructure and systems up to date so as to ensure efficient day-to-day operations.

At the same time, each of the national governments is focused on improving the provision of healthcare, education, and transportation services in their respective countries. IDC expects investment in the healthcare sector to increase considerably across the GCC on the back of extensive plans to increase the number of hospitals and clinics in the region and modernize existing facilities.

The introduction of healthcare management systems and improvements in the availability of electronic medical records are two key areas of related investment, while the private sector is also being encouraged to improve the quality of healthcare services offered in the region.

Gulf governments are similarly focused on improving the provision of education services across the region, according to IDC's research. Indeed, the report shows that new universities are being set up throughout the GCC to offer specialized programs, while other institutions are partnering with multinational vendors to offer new technical programs as part of their academic curricula.

"These initiatives present enormous opportunities for both local and multinational service providers," says Ranjit Rajan, research director for IT services and software at IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey.

"However, while investments in the government sector have increased in the past year, along with the number of related projects sponsored by the region's governments, concerns around data security and a lack of effective project management prevail. Data security is among the primary pain points for organizations in the GCC as it impacts everyone, irrespective of the size of the organization or the vertical it operates in. Such concerns, coupled with factors like long sales cycles and a lack of executive buy-in, often act as barriers to investments in technology, resulting in projects extending beyond their scope and past their planned timelines."

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