Cloud driving growth and innovation

In conversation with Channel Post MEA, Thierry Nicault, Area Vice President MENA, Salesforce discusses the importance of cloud computing and how is cloud creating innovation and growth opportunities for businesses in the Middle East

Thierry Nicault, Area Vice President MENA, Salesforce

What are the business and economic benefits of cloud computing?
In the Middle East, cloud computing is the foundation of digital transformation. Organizations can gain real-time insights, scalability as their business grows, and optimize costs. By moving from physical infrastructure, which faces challenges in installation, maintenance, and upgrades, to a more flexible cloud-based business model, organizations can scale up on subscription-based models that seem them pay for only the cloud services that they consume.

As more organizations have moved towards hybrid work models over the past year amid the pandemic, cloud computing is playing a key role in enabling the work from anywhere model. Cloud computing can readily integrate new and emerging technologies such as mobile apps, social media, artificial intelligence and machine learning, blockchain, and the Internet of Things.

By taking a cloud-first approach, Middle East organizations can create new digital revenue streams, support new digital job creation, and drive a virtuous cycle of growth and innovation. Salesforce, as the first 100% cloud-native enterprise application solutions provider, is dedicated to enabling Middle East organizations’ cloud-based digital transformation. Supporting customers’ digital transformation, Salesforce’s MuleSoft solution enables integration between on-premise and cloud-based systems, applications, and devices in a hybrid cloud platform.

What is the role played by digital transformation in the expansion of cloud?
Middle East organizations are aligning with government-led digital transformation agendas, such as the UAE Vision 2021 and Saudi Vision 2030, to adopt cloud-based solutions that can support new levels of digital business innovation, job creation, and diversified economic growth.

In the UAE, 79% of sales reps say that their digital transformation has accelerated since 2019, according to the State of Sales Report. And with increased digital transformation, Middle East organizations will further need cloud-based solutions to support mission-critical applications across the government and public sector, banking and finance, healthcare, and education. Showing the strong business benefits of running on the cloud, Salesforce customers report a 39% increase in sales productivity, and a 40% increase in productivity with mobile.

Many business leaders and employees are turning to artificial intelligence and workflow automation to meet customers’ needs. Digital transformation initiatives are often being led by Chief Digital Information Officers or Chief Digital Transformations Officers, who can lead business strategy and design, technological architecture, and implementation and operations. Overall, successful digital transformation initiatives should align business and IT goals, create data-driven architecture and integrate all relevant data sources, develop the right skills and culture, achieve shared KPIs and success metrics, and optimize their commercial framework.

Please comment on the growth of cloud in the UAE?
The UAE’s government-led digital transformation, led by UAE Vision 2021 and Smart Cities and Smart Government agendas especially in Abu Dhabi and Dubai are driving cloud adoption. In the UAE, spending on cloud computing between now and 2024 will grow by 27 percent, from USD 184 million in 2018 to USD 778 million in 2024, according to IDC’s research.

Worldwide, by 2024, IDC predicts that nearly 50 percent of cloud computing software spend will be tied to digital transformation, and will account for nearly half of all software sales. Cloud solutions play a key role in driving new levels of customer engagement with companies. Amid the transition to all-digital experiences, the Salesforce Trends in Workflow Automation Report finds that customer expectations are growing. Worldwide, 87% of consumers and business buyers expect companies to accelerate digital initiatives due to COVID-19. Similarly, Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer Report finds that 91% of UAE customers expect their companies to go digital and that companies will take on a larger societal role.

Currently, the business world is advancing from the Cloud 1.0 era of the World Wide Web, past the Cloud 2.0 era of social and mobile, and into the Cloud 3.0 era of Work from Anywhere. The future is all-digital, and work from anywhere. This digital-first world is powering a major evolution of the cloud that is seeing remote work, e-commerce, and video meetings become mainstream. Salesforce is enabling the Cloud 3.0 era with a full suite of cloud-based Software as a Service (Saas) solutions across sales, service, marketing, commerce, and analytics. The latest solution is Salesforce Hyperforce, which is a reimagination of the company’s platform architecture built to securely and reliably deliver Salesforce Customer 360 on major public cloud platforms.

Elaborate on the Salesforce Economy growth in UAE in light of IDC Report?
IDC finds that Salesforce and its partner ecosystem will create USD 2.6 billion in new business revenues and 11,180 new jobs in the UAE to 2024. Salesforce is driving massive gains for its partner ecosystem, which will see USD 6.58 in gains for every USD 1 Salesforce makes by 2024. From 2019 through 2024, Salesforce in the UAE will also drive the creation of 18,700 indirect jobs, created from spending in the general economy by those people filling the 11,180 direct jobs.

Because organizations that spend on cloud computing subscriptions also spend on ancillary products and services, the Salesforce ecosystem in the UAE in 2019 was more than 4.5 times larger than Salesforce itself, and will grow to 6.5 times larger by 2024. UAE organizations and channel partners are innovative their digital business models to support new levels of employee and customer experiences, business competitiveness, and job creation.

Supporting digital talent development in the UAE and the region, Salesforce is seeing strong growth in its Trailhead Community, which enables digital talent to learn in-demand skills, earn resume-worthy credentials, and connect to job opportunities. In the UAE, the number of UAE Trailhead participants has grown to 3,500 participants collecting 19,000 badges in FY2021, up from 1,700 collecting 10,000 badges in FY2019.