n a workshop held at the Hilton Doha, Microsoft International president Jean-Philippe Courtois said aside from cloud technology, the software company aims to create a family of devices that will enable businesses to virtually engage with other industry players like banks, clients, and other stakeholders through seamless communication.
He noted that "Microsoft is committed to helping the country address its national priorities through technology, bringing innovative products and services to the market for the benefit of Qatari SMEs, the local economy and the country's overall competitiveness."
Courtois encouraged Qatar SMEs to maximise the use of the Internet and said, "Tech savvy SMEs have created more jobs and more revenue gains compared to their non-tech savvy counterparts Cloud services can give 40 times cost benefits to SMEs," Courtois stressed.
He also noted that SMEs in Europe and the US that are literate in cloud technology generate at least 60% to 80% of the total employment opportunities.
"Microsoft recognises Qatar's long-standing commitments to knowledge-creation and cultivating a vibrant SME sector," Courtois added.
Courtois was in Doha at the invitation of the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology in partnership with Microsoft Qatar and Enterprise Qatar (EQ). The three institutions brought in SMEs from all over the country to encourage them to maximise the potentials of cloud technology and its varied uses.
During the workshop, ICT strategy section manager (ICT industry development) at the Ministry of ICT Feda Barghouthi underscored the government's efforts in advocating the use of cloud-based technology.
Barghouthi encouraged SMEs to use the "ICT SME Toolkit" and a cloud computing feature available on the Supreme Council of Information and Communication Technology (ictQATAR) website.
Citing the need for technology awareness, Barghouthi said a 2013 study revealed that of the 250 Qatar SMEs interviewed, 59% do not have company websites, while 6% said they do not sell their products online and only less than 1% of the respondents use cloud-based services.
The study further revealed that of the 59%, at least 75% of the respondents are small business owners who do not have websites while 40% come from medium businesses that own websites.
Barghouthi told Gulf Times that SMEs require support and awareness on the benefits of cloud computing and also how to adapt to the things they need when considering cloud services.
"This is where the ICT Toolkit bridges the gap to help SMEs adopt cloud services," Barghouthi stressed.
EQ department manager Abdulabasit al-Ajji said, "Qatar's demand for innovation and economic diversification has led to an increased attention toward the SME sector."
"With SMEs shaping 97% of the private sector in Qatar, we realise the importance of providing seamless support to them," he added.
Mohamed Ahmed al-Ahmed (Al Meera) expressed optimism on the government's effort to empower SMEs through technology.
He said: "In Qatar, I see SMEs being able to adapt to the latest technologies and other ICT services due to the efforts of the Ministry of ICT and other ICT-related institutions. Today, at least 90% of Qatari SMEs are knowledgeable in computer use, which can give them access to the Internet," al-Ahmed said.