DIGITAL LABS

Saudi Arabia 2020 | ECONOMY | B2B

Multinational professional services companies are leveraging their international expertise to spearhead Saudi Arabia's digitalization and privatization strategies.

Abdullah Hamad Al Fozan
ABDULLAH HAMAD AL FOZAN
Chairman
KPMG Al Fozan & Partners
Khaled Al-Dhaher
KHALED AL-DHAHER
Country Managing Director
Accenture

Can you tell us about your setup and how you blend international expertise with the local market?

ABDULLAH HAMAD AL FOZAN We are a member of KPMG's international network, which has a presence in over 153 countries with over 210,000 employees. KPMG in Saudi Arabia employs 1,300 people. We have an aligned agenda to serve the market within the region, and we are building this close network together by clustering with other KPMG member firms in the region. That will help us provide services to our clients, especially on the technology and advisory side where we need to have a refined investment approach. KPMG's new global strategy will be driven by solutions that will help clients achieve their ambition to grow and expand. Saudi Arabia and the region are putting technology to the front to drive digitalization. We are further investing in our capacity to support our public-sector clients with our global expertise coupled with highly relevant regional teams as well as helping the private sector to cope with the latest disruptive technologies. We also work with KPMG member firms across the globe to bring global subject matter expertise to Saudi Arabia where needed.

KHALED ALDHAHER Accenture brings value in two extremely distinct ways: functional industry expertise and optimization expertise. In Saudi Arabia, we focus on four key areas. The first is to become the partner of choice for our clients in privatization and commercialization, which is aimed at enhancing ROI when assets such as airports and hospitals are privatized. The second area is optimization—namely advising our clients to become more effective and efficient. Accenture has procurement centers around the world, and we help clients build their own procurement hubs to reduce costs. In total, we have supported clients with more than USD500 billion worth of procurement. If they optimize 5%, that is USD25 billion saved, which can be deployed as shareholder profit or invested back into the company. Our third area of focus is digital transformation. We have strongly invested in Saudi Arabia and recently launched our digital studio in Riyadh. Globally, Accenture Interactive is ranked the largest digital agency network. Within this division, we work on our clients' digital marketing, market positioning, and communication strategies. The fourth area we focus on is people and the best way to structure one's organization to get the most out of their people.

What is your opinion of privatization and your advice for global investors coming to Saudi Arabia?

AHAF There is a big opportunity in privatization because the government is serious about it. The government has developed its strategy to progressively privatize some sectors in line with Vision 2030 and is continuing to develop the regulatory ecosystem for the targeted sectors. In some sectors, such as water, power, and renewables, it already happening, and other sectors such as healthcare, transportation, and ports are next in line. The energy sector has seen planned privatizations processes for a long time now. It is clear the government wants to increase efficiency and the availability of resources for the growth in economy. The government is not looking for money but for technical partners that will improve efficiency and effectiveness, bring in technology and provide better services to the public. Overall, privatization will enable private players to take an expanding role in contributing to the country's economy and at the same time increasing efficiencies in those sectors.

Are your initiatives demand driven?

KAD We must always connect with the market to have projects that reflect real market development. We combine that with the capabilities and innovation that we bring to the table so it truly becomes a combination of market demand and anticipating general trends. In many cases, companies define the first steps, though we need to show them the path beyond that short-term approach. In Saudi Arabia especially, sectors such as tourism and entertainment are only just getting started. Combined with the young demographics of the country and the access to technology, we only need some strategic planning to successfully develop both sectors. Within our Accenture Innovation Architecture, we also have research centers where we can approach industries or challenges from a more structural, strategic angle. We engage as knowledge partners at global platforms like the World Economic Forum and the G20 to help governments define their policies.