Outlook 2022: “The MEA Region is One of the Fastest Growing Emerging Markets”

Simon Howells, the General Manager for Xerox Emirates, speaks about opportunities for 2022

How was 2021 for the industry and your company?
2021 has been a tough year for the industry as a whole, particularly those with a print-centric strategy. The pandemic has lasted longer than the initial outlook, despite the incredible efforts from the Government and population of the UAE. The industry acknowledges the need for change and is at a crossroads where print providers are changing strategies to capitalise on opportunities beyond print.

Many organisations have adopted different working models, with many continuing with a hybrid strategy for the year. In addition, the global supply chain issue, which has affected all tech businesses has started to impact this industry too as we approach the end of the year.

That said, Xerox Emirates has had a long-standing and robust digital services business which has supported the company in being more future-ready and less reliant on print. Xerox Emirates has been recognised as the leading company in digital transformation, and the challenges on one hand from the pandemic have been mitigated by the opportunities that have presented themselves to support the UAE’s digital transformation.

What sort of opportunities did 2021 bring along?
Digital Transformation was already a huge priority to many UAE organisations prior to the Pandemic, the landscape has just been broadened and accelerated over the past 12 months. Xerox Emirates has seen a huge increase in demand for digital services. Projects have been spread from managing physical and electronic data with our Capture and Content Services, implementation of powerful automation and secure workflows as well as creating highly efficient business processes for a productive workplace and beyond.

The key opportunity Xerox Emirates has experienced is being able to work closely with digital teams on their road maps and add value at each stage of the process. In addition, Xerox Emirates continues to expand its portfolio of solutions and services with 3rd party partnerships that offer greater flexibility and accessibility while boosting security.

Did you face any challenges in 2021?
The global economy and print providers are experiencing a common supply chain issue which was fueled by the international lockdowns (during the pandemic) that slowed the flow of materials and goods, as well as staff shortages and losses. Although this continues to be a challenge impacting all tech businesses across the industry, we are ensuring that we are consistently communicating with our customers and offering alternative solutions as required as well as taking care of, our most critical asset, our people.

What were your key achievements in 2021?
2021 was a year of firsts in many respects for Xerox Emirates. We have had some significant wins in the graphic communications space including the installation of the world’s first Xerox Baltoro HF Inkjet Press with Color Accelerator. This is a good reflection on the transformation that we have gone through as a business and a clear indicator of the path ahead.

Do you see opportunities in the regional markets with new markets opening up?
The MEA region is one of the fastest-growing emerging markets, having a record of strong digital sector growth. According to a recent IDC MEA CIO Survey, the key business investment priorities include operational improvement, workforce improvement, business model innovation, and product innovation. With workflow automation being a top priority and given our experience in digital services, there is increasing demand across the region for technologies such as RPA and AI. Unsurprisingly, KSA is benefiting from huge investment, and will only add to what is a very attractive market.

According to you, which technologies will be in demand in 2022?
With the reduced volumes with the graphic communications space, overlaid with an increased demand for personalisation, Ink Jet and short-run digital engines still have significant room for growth. We have already seen a lot of ‘traditional’ offset print migrate onto digital. The quality from the IJ and digital devices is now so good, it is negating the need for offset print. In addition, we will see increased demand for our software, such as Signiflow Digital Signature, and our digital services, such as DMS, Archiving, ECM, RPA, and AI.

What will be your key focus areas for 2022?
Our focus will be on driving more digital adoption through our digital services portfolio, capitalising on our market position whilst retaining the top spot as the leader in the worldwide managed print services in Quocirca’s worldwide market landscape report and delivering significant growth.

Do you plan to enter new markets or add new products/applications to your portfolio in 2022?
Xerox Emirates has signed a number of new partnerships in 2021, all of which are well placed to capitalise on the new requirements of our partners and customers. We will continue to bring new solutions into our offerings stack. Some of our partnerships from 2021 include Signiflow, V-CODE, and Appian.

2021 has been a challenging year for everyone, however, I think that the UAE community has responded magnificently to the situation and been extremely supportive of each other. We have been conscious to keep employee safety and mental well-being at the forefront of our decision-making and look forward to moving ahead into 2022 with new optimism for the future.

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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