“Digital transformation is a requisite to creating innovative and competitive business models” was a statement given by Vodafone Qatar’s Head of Strategic Projects and Innovation, Simone Eliantonio, as he addressed the audience of The Second Entrepreneurship in Economic Development Forum which was held in Doha, Qatar on March 2 and 3, 2015 under the patronage of H.E. Sheikh Ahmed Bin Jassim Al Thani, Minister of Economy & Commerce.
The Entrepreneurship in Economic Development Forum is a platform that assesses the prevailing entrepreneurial culture in Qatar and the wider Gulf, discusses the importance of fostering and promoting entrepreneurship, and proposes a specific plan of action to make Qatar University, as well as other Gulf universities and educational institutions, the incubators of young entrepreneurs of the future by devising and implementing degree programs that aim specifically at developing the right skills in the arts of business, decision-making and risk management.
In its 2-day rundown, the forum attracted wide interest and participation on the part of officials and policy makers, major public and private institutions involved in education and youth development, business leaders, banks and specialised financial institutions, economists and experts in various fields and the academic community in Qatar, the rest of the Gulf countries and internationally.
Speaking about Digitisation and Entrepreneurship, Simone Eliantonio explored how the adoption of digital enablers can help to increase the reach and optimise investments in communications channels. Eliantonio gave some examples of how non-digital businesses in any industry and of any size can also grow and thrive when supported by digital solutions in many different aspects of their daily needs: reach, customer understanding, operations, and even future opportunities to expand their markets.
Eliantonio said: “Digitisation is a top priority for us at Vodafone in Qatar and across the world. We firmly believe that digitisation of corporate entities of any size ensures the sustainability of a country’s economy. Digital transformation is a way to improve well-being and “citizen experience” in Qatar and, as Vodafone, we can bring considerable value not only by providing services but also by generating new trends in the country with thought leadership. As a telecom provider, we need more digitally enhanced companies in our ecosystem as digital awareness creates further demand for telecom services.”
Eliantonio continued to explain that a true and effective digital transformation framework should touch upon 3 key pillars to reach its full potential, and these are: Customer Experience; Business Operations; and Business Model.
From a Customer Experience perspective, digital solutions can support any business in enhancing its reach – instead of relying only on word-of-mouth publicity or more expensive and less interactive forms of advertisement – by creating a wider and more engaged customer base for its products and services; Digital Solutions can also enable each company to have a better insight of what their customers like and don’t like, allowing them to invest their resources in a more focused way.
Eliantonio then described how digitally enabled Operations – rather than paper-based ones – can support even small companies to be more effective in their everyday tasks and to be ready to easily expand to new locations or new international markets when needed. Finally, Eliantonio highlighted how digital solutions can enable new innovative Business Models that would not be possible otherwise and said: “This is by far the most complicated opportunity to seize, but it can be the biggest one of all. Examples of new business models that were not possible before the digital era are in front of all of us every day: from Google to Facebook, from Whatsapp to Amazon and others.”
Eliantonio concluded: “Digitisation is an enabler that helps any kind of business to thrive and prosper. It is both an opportunity and a threat: if you don’t use digital solutions to enable your business – in any industry – some competitor will soon come and be more competitive that you can be and drive you out of business.”
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