Middle East’s two choices: Innovate or perish

Business associates shaking hands in office

Business associates shaking hands in office

“The models that worked in the past ten years will not work in the next five,” says Dr Yasar Jarrar, Vice-chair, Global Agenda Council on the Future of Government, World Economic Forum, stressing on the need for innovation in the public and private sectors in the Middle East.

The governments and private firms in the region had, until the recent past, held on to old traditions and shied away from taking roads untraveled. But things began to change in the last few years, after the ripples of major developments in the global economy made their way into the oil-rich nations in the region.

In AMEinfo’s special report, 7 Strategies to Survive the Rest of 2016, Dr Jarrar argues that there is no choice but to innovate, as the Arab world’s finances are faced with difficult times. “The region’s governments and the private sector have two options: they can continue to watch the economy soften further – and their own finances soften with it, or they can turn around and rethink what is possible.”

The experts say that innovation is increasingly being recognised as a necessity in the region and it is at the heart of the structural changes and regulatory reforms, especially after being hit by the cheap crude oil prices.

Innovation now tops the boardroom agendas of the region’s businesses and more and more firms are allocating dedicated human and financial resources to drive innovation in their businesses.

“Today’s companies exist in a climate where strategic risks – those that either affect or are created by business strategy decisions – can strike more quickly than ever before. This means that companies that fall behind on the innovation curve may quickly fall prey to what is seen as innovation’s evil twin – disruption,” says Rami Wadie, Partner, Deloitte Enterprise Risk Services (ERS) and Middle East Leader of the Deloitte Centre of Corporate Governance.

All of the countries in the Middle East, except Algeria and Yemen, ranked in the top 100 in The Global Innovation Index 2015 by Cornell University, INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), which ranked 141 economies around the world.

The Deloitte Innovation Survey 2015 had revealed that 96 per cent of respondents globally consider innovation to be among the top five strategic priorities, with more than a fifth of companies classifying it as a top priority. Two-thirds of respondents said they innovate in order to grow or differentiate themselves from the competition.

Dr Jarrar further says that instead of waiting for somebody else to come up with great ideas, organisations should challenge their own people to create something.

“They should turn to their human capital and tell them: “Here are the challenges. We need to find solutions,” he says.

The AMEinfo special report serves as a survival guide for businesses operating in the region, highlighting the main areas they need to focus on to survive and thrive during the rest of the year and beyond.

The seven strategies explored in the report are: Innovation, Diversification, Collaboration, Optimisation, Transparency, Talent Management and Agility. These survival tips are further strengthened through insights from the MENA region’s leading business players, thinkers and analysts.

Source : AMEinfo.com – June 19, 2016

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