Middle East Shared Services: The One to Watch

Review of SSON's Shared Services and Outsourcing Week, Middle East 2018

Puja Pankhania

Middle East

Tipping Point in Middle East Shared Services Market

The Middle East shared services market has been simmering away for a number of years now, with almost 200 shared service centers already in existence. But it’s reached a tipping point and we’re witnessing a major growth spurt fuelled by variety of factors.

True Value. Whilst many shared service centers had been set up, the reality on the ground was that the processes and operating models hadn’t really changed. Thus, the value was missing. This is now changing. Companies here are recognizing that they have merely scratched the surface with their SSC and so streamlining and scaling their SSC to incorporate other functions is the mission at hand.

Mergers, acquisitions & holding groups. Large conglomerates are a key dynamic for this region with many holding companies overseeing up to 100 subsidiary companies in some cases. As a result, shared services offer an immense opportunity for operational efficiency. This has only been heightened further by a number of mergers and acquisitions in the market and we are seeing new shared services centers being planned in 2019 across UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Kuwait.

Robotics, Automation and AI. The UAE appointment of the first Minister of Artificial Intelligence in the world took place a year ago [see video below]. This was a big signal to the region that AI will feature prominently in society and businesses in the years ahead. It’s no surprise that this announcement, coupled with the spectacular results that global companies are achieving through Robotics Process Automation (RPA) and Intelligent Automation, is one of the core business strategies to activate in the next 12 months.

So, it’s fair to say that the Middle East SSC market is well and truly awoken.

Earlier this month, SSON ran the 6th Shared Services & Outsourcing Week Middle East edition in Dubai, which tackled a number of these subjects. The crowd was the biggest and most senior we have seen to date with great engagement across the workshops led by Gary Thompson, as well as a host of dynamic sessions from LafargeHolcim, Tanfeeth, Kuwait Food Company American, Automation Anywhere, Mashreq Bank to name a few!

It was refreshing to see a number of new faces from the region and witness first hand just how seriously this market is looking at shared services as a key business strategy.

I think 2019 is going to be the year for Shared Services over here and I for one can’t wait to watch.

Puja Pankhania, Head of Projects & Digital Innovation, SSON Middle East