With a national blueprint already set on digitalization, one government agency is successfully buffering the financial sector through the pandemic.

Digital transformation (DX) is more than just a trend in the market. It has brought about sweeping changes in our day-to-day lives, the way organizations work, and the composition of the workforce.

However, it requires continuous strategic commitment, organization-wide integration, and change management to enable adoption of technologies and tracking of growth and improved outcomes. 

Between 2020 and 2024, direct global investments in DX is expected to reach US$7.8 trillion, according to Statista. With digital embeddedness in the business ecosystem growing, firms that continue to resist DX are bound to face roadblocks and lose their advantage against the competition.

The DX movement in Qatar

The infocomm technology (ICT) sector in Qatar is currently worth US$4.4 billion, and it is expected to catalyze economic diversification and country-wide digital adoption.

Over the next three to four years emerging technology segments such as IoT, Cloud, Cybersecurity, Big Data Analytics and AI are expected to drive the country’s digital sector and comprise about 50% of the market size.

The transformation of the digital landscape has contributed to the creation of more efficient, accessible, and customer-centric government institutions in Qatar. An increasing number of leading Qatari organizations are digitizing their systems and processes to increase efficiency and productivity, enhance employee and customer experience, ensuring ease of doing business across sectors.

Navigating pandemic challenges

As an onshore business and financial center providing legal and regulatory services for local and international firms, Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) was tasked with leading DX in the country to guide it through the adverse effects of the pandemic.

To maintain stakeholder engagement QFC quickly transitioned its events onto the virtual platform and adopted technologies to protect its data and that of its employees while implementing a remote-working regime. This allow QFC to continue servicing its clients while protecting their health and the integrity of their information.

With DX being a top strategic initiative, it is imperative that the organization-wide drive has the backing of the senior leadership. As such, QFC’s management has to drive national understanding and adoption of DX strategy and execution through a consistent vision and mission. To ensure sufficiency of talent to meet DX needs, QFX’s Human Capital team updated definitions of digital competencies in job descriptions and hiring requirements in recruitment-related matters.

Further reinforcing its commitment, QFC as an organization was fully digitalized to lead the way for clients registering with the agency. This was already a works-in-progress before the pandemic began, and was accelerated to ensure the business continuity of client organizations.

Amidst the lockdowns and global travel restrictions, QFC’s revamped incorporation process resulted in a significant increase of over 78% in the number of new firms licensed on its platform in 2020.

In keeping abreast of its ongoing DX, QFC implemented software solutions for policy management solution, Staff Wiki, and the Qatar Financial Centre Authority KPIs dashboards. These initiatives afforded staff and clients alike, easier access to relevant crucial information for operational continuity.

The biggest DX challenge

Adopting digital transformation is not an overnight process, and it takes time and efforts to ensure it is implemented the right way. According to research by McKinsey, 46% of financial services executives surveyed felt that cultural or behavioral change is the biggest challenge they face in pursuing their digital strategies.

One way to address such challenges is to break functional silos and create opportunities for collaborative working and shared accountabilities. This requires continuous reviews of organizational design and the establishment of supportive learning systems.

To facilitate such processes, QFC created forums for cross-functional interactions, decision making and project management; and promoted development and access to flexible digital learning platforms for its workforce to upskill continually.

Digitalizing sustainability in Qatar

As an advocate for saving the environment, QFC various paperless initiatives within the organization to encourage downstream adoption by our vendors and client.

The introduction of an e-tendering solution, which automates vendor registration and tendering processes, further reinforced our platform’s commitment to sustainability and green living. QFC has also started making use of electronic signatures and letter correspondence system to institute a 100% paperless environment.

Also, QFC operates an enhanced ‘client eServices portal’ that provides firms with contactless access to services ranging from one-stop registration of their businesses online to complex matters such as dispute resolution, saving them time and resources.

National economic diversification with DX

QFC’s digital transformation would not have been as straightforward if the digital infrastructure had not already been envisioned and built by the Qatar government in the first place.

As part of Qatar’s National Vision 2030 set into action in 2008, nationwide digital transformation was already underway when the world was plunged into a pandemic.

As the country accelerates the its economic diversification program amid an uncertain global landscape, QFC will play its part in redesigning how public and private organizations function and collaborate to help residents and businesses embrace the digital economy to operate and evolve efficiently and sustainably.