Online activities including use of online marketing and customer support, e-banking, social media and e-government services have shown growth in the country, according to ‘Qatar’s ICT landscape 2016’ published by the Ministry of Transport & Communications (MOTC).
In particular, the Internet activities that have shown the greatest progress are marketing products and services online and providing online customer service.
A study of business establishments and ICT enterprises demonstrates two important points — ICT is transforming businesses in Qatar and it is helping to fuel the growth and diversification of Qatar’s economy.
The revenue of the ICT industry has seen a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of about 15.4% during the 2012–2014 period, with further growth expected in future.
The role of the government cannot be underestimated — ICT providers feel that government projects are a key driver for the growth of the ICT industry in Qatar.
In terms of the impact ICT has had on businesses, an overwhelming majority of businesses believe they have benefited from ICT, with nearly half saying that ICT helps them access customers in new geographies and expand their potential market.
Improved quality of products and services was cited as a key benefit, followed by faster delivery and better customer relationships.
The report identifies e-commerce as the biggest opportunity for growth. Although many business establishments continue to use the traditional methods of doing business, the UNCTAD B2C E-Commerce Index 2016 shows Qatar has made great progress, jumping 47 positions since 2014.
This index measures the readiness of countries to engage in online commerce and is composed of four indicators- Internet use penetration, secure servers per one million inhabitants, credit card penetration, and a postal reliability score.
Thus, while this landscape survey shows that overall about 12% of business establishments surveyed reported receiving and 8% reported placing orders over the Internet, the use of e-commerce varies by industry segment, with the highest proportion of business establishments receiving and placing orders over the Internet in the construction and transportation and storage sectors.
In addition, among business establishments that receive orders over the Internet, nearly one-third are using payment gateways for receiving payments such as those offered by Qatar’s banks, PayPal, and CashU. Qatar’s ecosystem is becoming ripe for major progress in future.
Qatar’s government has launched several initiatives to leverage Qatar’s potential in e-commerce. Qatar National e-Commerce Roadmap 2015 was published as a blueprint for moving forward with an aggressive e-commerce effort, including developing a national payment gateway solution.
In spite of the progress made and the opportunities identified, key challenges to businesses’ use of ICT and to the growth of the ICT industry remain.
On the supply side, the number of skilled technical employees available does not meet the demand, with this lack of skilled manpower in Qatar reported as a challenge by 14% of ICT enterprises. In addition, low R&D investment by ICT enterprises inhibits innovation and further industry growth.
On the demand side, there is lower ICT penetration among businesses with 1–9 employees, which comprise a large proportion of all businesses in
Internet and computer penetration is low in the manufacturing and wholesale and retail sectors, which in turn inhibits e-commerce.
Web presence and use of mobile applications have a great deal of room to grow, with nearly two-thirds of the businesses reporting they do not have a web presence. And even among businesses with 50 to 250 or more employees, about one-fourth still do not have a web presence, the report said.Last updated: June 21 2016 07:39 PM
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