Emmanuelle Hose, Group Vice President and Theatre General Manager, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Rimini Street
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GCC CIOs and CTOs prioritise digital transformation in 2022: Rimini Street survey

Rimini Street, a global provider of enterprise software products and services, the leading third-party support provider for Oracle and SAP software products and a Salesforce partner, announced the Gulf Co-Operation Council States’ IT spending habits: The 2022 IT Buyer Sentiment Survey. 72% of CIOs and CTOs agree digital transformation investments are key to their success and 52% expect to see return-on-investment in one to two years, underlining the urgency for change. However, a staggering 76% of respondents admit that up to 50% of their licensed enterprise software applications go unused, suggesting there is significant room to optimise existing business applications.

Impatience to Innovate

Across the region, 15% of respondents say digital transformation is their number one priority compared to other corporate priorities, but there is some variance across the region:

  • Oman – 23%
  • Saudi Arabia – 22%
  • Bahrain – 18%
  • UAE – 13%
  • Qatar – 8%
  • Kuwait – 4%

This raises questions over the value of highly complex, disruptive migrations of core Enterprise Resource Planning applications to their Software-as-a-Service equivalent, as such projects often take many years to complete. Particularly, for large corporations in the GCC with multiple ERP systems on different versions, such wholesale change may impact productivity and revenue generation at a crucial time when growth is essential to long-term business sustainability. Increasingly, Rimini Street is seeing clients worldwide address the need for change while minimising disruption by innovating at the edge rather than attempting a rip and replace of existing in-house applications.

CIOs and CTOs in the region want innovation with security and privacy protection as the number one priority for IT initiatives, followed by next-generation disruptive technology initiatives, risk management and compliance, and revenue-generating technology initiatives. The challenge is choosing a strategy that allows them to move with agility and at pace, targeting innovation where it will be most effective. For example, the survey highlighted managers’ concerns over losing their existing application customisations in any IT upgrade.

Rimini Street is finding its clients can address this issue by adopting its third-party support, as having the reassurance of Primary Support Engineers with an average of 20 years of specialised experience means they can be confident that existing applications will be fully supported while they focus on transformation. Rimini Street enjoys a customer satisfaction rating higher than 4.9 out of 5.0 for case surveys and guarantees 24x7x365 support with a maximum of 10-minute response times for critical issues and an average response time of less than two minutes.

Rimini Street’s globally leading expertise in customised support for modified code, with direct knowledge of unique environments and modifications, helps clients reallocate their enterprise application support resources from supporting customisations to innovate at the edge.

The way forward

The survey further suggests CIOs and CTOs are considering a variety of approaches to modernising their enterprise application environments. 30% plan to migrate to the cloud with a hybrid cloud model, while 28% plan to ‘lift and shift’ to a public cloud infrastructure-as-a-service such as Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud or AWS. 26% are planning to migrate to a private cloud, but only 16% are considering a ‘rip and replace’ migration, which would have them switch from their existing in-house applications to the SaaS equivalent of their current applications. More than half 54% are considering a move to a hosted cloud environment for their internally run enterprise applications but intend to move away from their existing vendor.

This shows there is a variety of ways to modernise enterprise IT environments, often without requiring the disruption of replacing stable existing business applications. Further, it underlines the point that customers do not feel obliged to stay on the migration path dictated by the software vendors and are looking for alternative approaches. By switching to third party support, clients further enhance their independence to make decisions about transformation against a timeline that suits their business needs. This enables clients to adopt a blended ERP architecture as part of a broader hybrid IT strategy where core systems of record/ERP platforms are not replaced, giving clients the flexibility to adopt best-in-class cloud-based ‘systems of engagement’ to drive digital transformation.

Vendor Frustrations

What is clear is that CIOs and CTOs across the GCC are not entirely satisfied with the support vendors offer. 27% say one of their top challenges with their enterprise application vendor is no support for customisations, and 26% complain of no access to an experienced engineer. The top three challenges with software vendor support are:

  • Explaining the same issues multiple times 41%
  • High costs 39%
  • Lack of responsiveness and ownership 39%

Given companies across the region are moving into a crucial phase of transformation, it is vital they have confidence that their mission-critical business applications are supported and are receiving value-for-money in terms of the level of support provided. As many clients have hybrid IT environments, it also means they have multiple service levels spanning cloud vendors and partners, which can lead to longer service times in a vendor-based support model. As an independent services provider with global engineering expertise and capacity, Rimini Street helps clients to secure, run, manage and enhance their software portfolios while redirecting cost savings to innovation priorities for the business.

Consequently, Rimini Street can deliver a unified support model, which involves consolidating oversight and delivery of support services and flattening the traditional ITIL support Levels 2-4. For clients, this provides simplicity and scalability by reducing the number of support providers and service layers, both of which are important in a time of hybrid-driven, multivendor, multiplatform environments.

“The findings in the GCC are very similar to a global study we did in early 2020 with CFOs, who also says digital transformation investments are critical to their success,” said Emmanuelle Hose, Group Vice President and Theatre General Manager, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Rimini Street. “The major question facing GCC CIOs and CTOs is, ‘What is the best route to achieve modernisation?’, because the study suggests there are doubts about the cloud and its ability to offer a smooth transition. Our report indicates there are opportunities to optimise existing applications and innovate at the edge, which we can help clients with by offering unified support so that they can focus on change.”

Emmanuelle Hose, Group Vice President and Theatre General Manager, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Rimini Street
Emmanuelle Hose, Group Vice President and Theatre General Manager, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Rimini Street.

“We appreciate that most companies want and need to customise their ERP system for performance and differentiation, but often lack the right software vendor support, which does not typically include customisation support in standard maintenance programs. This forces the need to hire expensive, external consultants or dedicate internal resources to support business-critical, customised code,” says Taher Haj-Yousef, Regional Manager Middle East, Rimini Street. “By switching to third party support, clients alleviate these challenges and avoid highly disruptive change. It also demonstrates that there is a clear alternative path to modernisation by optimising existing applications and innovating at the edge.”

Taher Haj-Yousef, Regional Manager Middle East, Rimini Street
Taher Haj-Yousef, Regional Manager Middle East, Rimini Street.

Conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Rimini Street, the survey elicited the opinions of 505 CIOs and CTOs in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman working in telecoms, financial services, oil and gas, retail and manufacturing, between October and November 2021.