Our digital and physical worlds are advancing so fast, it can often seem like we’re embroiled in a race against time. From Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain, to digital twins and the metaverse, emerging technologies continue to promote ways of revolutionising how data is collected and transformed into information, how services are delivered, and how cities, assets and infrastructure are operated and maintained.
In turn, and if properly considered, these also promise ways to drive efficiency, enhance user experiences, improve safety, unlock new value, and transform business models.
However, in order to yield the desired outcomes, digital shouldn’t be considered as an objective per se. Instead, the core fundamentals and practical frameworks of digital should be carefully considered beforehand. The links between data, digital technologies, in the specific context of the organization and in line with its strategy should be established.
In other words, it’s not only imperative to get your house in order before embarking into a digital transformation journey but also to adopt a realistic, practical, and measured approach to execution.
In the Middle East, digital is underpinning almost all of the region’s countries’ strategic visions – from Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, to the United Arab Emirates’ recently announcing its intentions of becoming the first 100% paperless government. The region’s world-class digital infrastructure and 70% internet penetration – above the global average of 60%- is also a major catalyst towards this enabling endeavour.
Strides have been taken towards enabling digital transformation at both private and public sector levels, and measures have been implemented to increase digital awareness and encourage adoption. The COVID-19 pandemic pushed both businesses and governments to take a quantum leap in their digital journeys. Yet, this hasn’t always consistently delivered the benefits expected nor captured the value anticipated. To this end, it’s essential that digital is adopted as an enabler instead of becoming a hindrance.
Towards a measured digital reality
The impact of technologies can be vast. If implemented properly, these powerful digital tools can be used to solve some of our world’s most pressing agendas, including climate action and empowering social cohesion and inclusion.
In the business context, combining existing solutions with new technologies can empower companies to manage their assets’ data more efficiently than ever before, thus improving performance, reducing lifecycle costs and minimising risk.
But to get this stage, they must first take a contextualised and measured approach in their digital journeys. Sure, digital can provide a competitive edge, but a misguided digital transformation framework can leave an organisation reeling in worse shape than before. In context, if you’re building a skyscraper you have to lay the foundations before deciding what colour to paint the walls. Similarly, in the digital realm you have to be confident that your digital roadmap is robust before applying VR headsets and AI-powered robots.
The WSP Difference
The ambition of WSP’s Digital Advisory is to help our clients use and leverage technology, data and service delivery models to achieve their business objectives.
Whether a client is masterplanning a Smart District or a city, looking to optimise the efficiency of a plant, embarking on a net-zero transition journey, or envisaging the adoption of digitally enabled innovation, we help by rationalising the strategic needs and business incentives by associating digital implementation with its intended context. From here, the sky is the limit, but it’s essential to overcome the need for novelty before phasing in digital.
If you’d like to join the conversation or find out more about WSP Middle East’s Digital Advisory, you can get in touch at [email protected].
This article was originally posted on the 25th January 2022 to our dedicated thought leadership platform WSP-Anticipate.com.