Oracle NetSuite: 62% of UAE Firms Met Growth Objectives in 2020

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Despite the trials and tribulations of last year, 62% of UAE businesses managed to meet or surpass their growth target according to a new study by Oracle NetSuite, although this is down 28% from a similar report conducted prior to the pandemic. The new study, The State of Growth, provides insights from 2,000 employees in UAE, Saudi Arabia, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Benelux and the Nordics, examining business responses to COVID-19 challenges and the expectations for growth. 

“It is evident in our findings that many UAE businesses have rallied to adapt during the pandemic to meet their growth objectives,” said Hossam Refaat, Senior Sales Director, MEA, Oracle NetSuite. “Businesses know there are challenges ahead – ever-changing circumstances and accommodating employees’ preferences to how and where they work – but it will be the organisations that evolve quickly and efficiently that will return to growth.” 

Business confidence remains strong regionally 

The organisations surveyed have demonstrated an ability to react and adapt over the past year and have an optimistic growth outlook for 2021. 

  • 62% of UAE respondents said their business met or exceeded growth targets last year, lower than the other regions surveyed – the UK (83%), Benelux (83%), Spain (82%), Saudi Arabia (81%), Germany (80%), Nordics (78%), France (73%) and Italy (72%). 
  • Across all regions, respondents’ industries also impacted performance. Advertising, media & publishing (89%), professional services (85%), and software and technology (82%) industries reported growth, above manufacturing (64%) and retail (70%). 
  • Despite these challenges that, over half (53%) of UAE respondents are expecting annual revenue growth in 2021, while 16% expect to remain flat. Spain (66%), the UK (65%) and Italy (59%) are most expectant of growth. 

Thrive, rather than survive 

Much has been made of how quickly businesses adapted to a changing landscape, and respondents have faith in how their organisations continue to tackle these challenges. 

  • The majority of UAE businesses are not overwhelmed by the pandemic – just 25% cited COVID-19 as the greatest external business threat they face, the same as the threat from existing competitors (25%), but behind new tariffs increasing costs (27%). 
  • Strong financial performances could be attributed to organisations’ ability to react – 67% of UAE respondents rated their company above average for adjusting business priorities due to COVID-19. 
  • 82% said they had to change the way they communicate with customers over the past 12 months, and 77% said the amount they sell online, as well as the number of channels they sell through (69%), also increased. 

The impact of remote working on the future workplace 

The past year has solidified a change in how employees work, and their expectations for a more hybrid model moving forward. 

  • Only 13% of UAE employees plan to permanently return to company facilities full-time, with older workers (aged over 55) showing a greater willingness to return to the office (42%). Over a third (38%) would like permanent flexibility in working hours. 
  • However, this doesn’t signify a complete shift to remote working in the future. 54% of UAE respondents expect to work remotely more than half the time post-pandemic, compared to 52% that already did so prior to the pandemic.  
  • Remote working has had little impact on the surveyed organisations’ ability to collaborate and problem solve, with 47% saying it is unchanged and a further 15% of respondents saying that remote working has improved their capabilities. 
  • Remote workers have adapted – although face-to-face collaboration ranks highest (41%) for things people miss about being in the workplace, a further 59% of UAE respondents do not miss in-person collaboration with colleagues, suggesting that many have found a rhythm with remote working patterns. 

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