(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are slowly increasing their importance in Oman's economy and the information technology sector's role in this steady transformation cannot be discounted. A myth abounds that IT investments require purchases of hardware, software, modern networks and personnel with necessary skill sets to operate.
Actually, it is simple and cost-effective for SMEs to run IT solutions, which give a boost to their businesses. According to the Oman IT Market Report, released recently by Business Monitor International (BMI), the Oman market is forecast to be worth US410mn in 2013, up 6.5 per cent from an estimated US385mn in 2012. The BMI report says the government is expected to be a significant driver of Omani IT spending over the next five years. The Information Technology Authority (ITA) has launched a number of IT-related infrastructure projects, with one core component being the ICT SME Development Programme, a business development initiative designed to create a database of ICT-related SMEs in Oman.
''Among the main objectives of the programme are the development of a proper database of SMEs in Oman and providing enough exposure to SMEs in order for them to get acquainted with the key names in the public and private sectors. Having a ready database of ICT-related SMEs will definitely secure the wider interest of the larger IT companies to start considering and utilising ICT-related SME services in the categories of software, hardware, security and network,'' says Hassan Fida al Lawati, team leader of projects at ITA's digital society development division.
ITA recently also signed memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with SAP and Gulf Business Machines (GBM) under the Practical Training and Project Attachment (PTPA) project to provide in-depth exposure and work experience to job seekers and SMEs in leading technologies through partnerships with leading IT firms and their partners.
According to IT industry executives, SMEs possess the ability to contribute substantially to the overall economic growth of the country, create employment and play a significant role in the nation's development. When it comes to SMEs, companies like Cisco are committed to delivering networking and communications solutions specifically designed for companies with up to 250 employees, driving their efficient and sustainable growth.
''Our aim is to help Oman's business leaders think and achieve big, hence most of our core offerings are available for SME deployment. Cisco offers a growing portfolio of solutions for SMEs in Oman to meet fundamental needs of security, connectivity and productivity, and together with our partner ecosystem we are intent on ramping up our ability to bring these to life across the country,'' said Iyad Alchammat, general manager, Cisco Oman. SAP also recently launched its new business suite solution powered by SAP HANA, an in-memory technology accelerant, in Oman.
''SME-specific SAP solutions include SAP Business All-in-One, a customisable and extensible solution for mid-size companies with deep industry best practices built in, and SAP Business One, a single integrated solution for successfully managing small businesses and for managing subsidiaries of large corporation,'' said Gergi Abboud, managing director, SAP Gulf. Abboud added, ''With deep insights from the predictive analytic capabilities provided by the recently launched SAP HANA platform, SMEs can optimise business planning, operations and decision making, while simultaneously gaining insight into new consumer trends and behaviour.''
An SME Symposium was held earlier this year at Saih al Shamekhat in Bahla to help promote the culture of entrepreneurship among Omani youth, enhance efforts to provide joboriented education, diagnose obstacles to development of SMEs, including IT-related matters, and propose solutio