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Publication date: 14 Sep 2023

IDC Explores the Latest Developments in Saudi Arabia's Burgeoning Digital Economy as It Hosts CIO Summit in Riyadh


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Riyadh – With ICT spending in Saudi Arabia poised to top $34.5 billion this year, International Data Corporation (IDC) today hosted more than 1,000 of the Kingdom's most influential tech leaders and partners at Riyadh's Fairmont Hotel for the final day of its IDC Saudi Arabia CIO Summit 2023. The two-day event provided a unique platform for senior business and IT heads, prominent technology companies, and respected industry analysts to share their collective expertise around the theme 'Enabling the Digital Economy's Leaders'.

"To harness the full potential and widespread benefits of the digital economy, governments and businesses must implement strategies to measure and cultivate it," says Jyoti Lalchandani, IDC's group vice president and regional managing director for the Middle East, Türkiye, and Africa. "Creating regulatory environments and nurturing talent will be critical to success. Today, technology plays an ever-increasing role in enabling, measuring, and reporting on sustainability initiatives and diversity and inclusion drives, with government and business leaders prioritizing these issues on their digital agendas."

This year marked the 13th annual edition of the IDC Saudi Arabia CIO Summit, with the event exploring the current digital landscape and evaluating its pervasive impact on citizens, customers, employees, and operations. IDC’s associate vice president for Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, Hamza Naqshbandi, opened the day's proceedings by praising the progress that has been made on the Kingdom's digital journey.

"Saudi Arabia's digital economy ambitions are a testament to the nation's unwavering commitment to embracing the future," said Naqshbandi, IDC’s associate vice president for Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. "With over 52% of Saudi organizations transitioning their traditional business models into a digital business approach, the Kingdom is not merely adapting to the new digital world but setting the pace, leveraging the potential of disruptive technologies to revolutionize industries, empower its populace, and propel economic advancement."

IDC's chief research officer, Meredith Whalen, presented the event's keynote, 'Strategies for the CIO and Enterprise Innovation: AI Everywhere', during which she provided essential guidance for organizations preparing for the looming omnipresence of generative AI (GenAI).

"In less than a year, GenAI has captured the attention, imagination, and trepidation of technology and business leaders across the world," said Whalen. "However, GenAI is just one part of a broader digital journey that organizations have been on over the past decade. At each stage of this digital journey, new leadership skills have been required to drive the evolution of business models, culture, and technology investments. This new chapter will intensify these demands, with CIOs increasingly playing a key strategic role in driving enterprise-wide growth and creating an environment for long-term sustainable innovation."

To this end, an enviable lineup of respected expert speakers assessed the current state of the digital economy, addressed key emerging tech-related challenges, and outlined proven best practices and strategies for driving future success. The agenda incorporated a series of fascinating presentations, dedicated CIO-led panel sessions, and technology focus groups addressing a diverse range of topics such as:

• Strategies for Developing a Digitally Resilient Organization

• Envisioning the Future Intelligent Enterprise

• Shaping CISO Strategies for the Digital-First Organization

• Data- and Platform-Led Strategies for Realizing Digital Outcomes

• Digital Trust, Identity, and Security Strategies for the Digital-First Organization

• Talent Development and the Demand for New Skills: Optimizing Team Structure

• Sustainable Strategies and Technologies: Operationalization, Impact Measurability, Business Value Creation

• Vendor Selection and Management: Best Practices and What to Look Out For

• Cyber Protection for the Threats of Today, and Tomorrow: Dynamic Security Strategies to Minimize Risk

• Connecting the Distributed Cloud: From the Edge to the Core

• Enabling the Data-Driven Enterprise

• Transitioning Through AI and Analytics: Winning in the Intelligent Economy

There was also a special guest appearance from Raha Moharrak, who carved her name in history as both the youngest Arab and first Saudi woman to climb Mount Everest and the Seven Summits. Her achievements align perfectly with the spirit of transformation that drives the summit, and her session inspired attendees to reach for new heights in their own digital journeys.

To learn more about the IDC Saudi Arabia CIO Summit 2023, please click here or contact Sheila Manek at / +971 4 446 3154. You can also join the discussion on social media using the hashtag #IDCSAUDICIO.

About IDC

International Data Corporation (IDC) is the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets. With more than 1,300 analysts worldwide, IDC offers global, regional, and local expertise on technology, IT benchmarking and sourcing, and industry opportunities and trends in over 110 countries. IDC's analysis and insight helps IT professionals, business executives, and the investment community to make fact-based technology decisions and to achieve their key business objectives. Founded in 1964, IDC is a wholly owned subsidiary of International Data Group (IDG), the world's leading tech media, data, and marketing services company. To learn more about IDC, please visit Follow IDC on Twitter at @IDC and LinkedIn. Subscribe to the IDC Blog for industry news and insights.

IDC in the Middle East, Türkiye, and Africa

For the Middle East, Türkiye, and Africa region, IDC retains a coordinated network of offices in Riyadh, Nairobi, Lagos, Johannesburg, Cairo, and Istanbul, with a regional center in Dubai. Our coverage couples local insights with international perspectives to provide a comprehensive understanding of markets in these dynamic regions. Our market intelligence services are unparalleled in depth, consistency, scope, and accuracy. IDC Middle East and Africa currently fields over 130 analysts, consultants, and conference associates across the region. To learn more about IDC MEA, please visit You can follow IDC MEA on Twitter at @IDCMEA.