MENA Power List 2023: Seizing opportunities, overcoming challenges
Ammar Sharaf

Ammar Sharaf has been the Founder, Board Member and CEO of Viola Communications for 22 years. His favorite hobby is sports. 

The marcomms landscape in the Middle East is really dynamic right now, and it seems that every day there are opportunities arising for those who possess both the foresight to spot them and the courage to seize them.

Thanks to a rise in digitalisation, marketing communications is now at a pivotal point, poised to redefine industries and reshape consumer behaviour. By identifying key opportunities, regional players can capitalise on the prospects, mitigate the challenges and devise strategies to navigate any hurdles successfully.

Digitalisation has presented us with a treasure trove of opportunities, but there are certain caveats: for example, as consumers become more aware, they also become more discerning, they want brands to offer quality products but also champion causes that are aligned with their values.

By designing impactful campaigns that address environmental concerns and societal issues, marcomms professionals can position brands as responsible stewards, foster brand loyalty and attract positive public sentiment as part of the global shift to sustainability and social responsibility.

We are navigating a sea-scape of fast-paced change, so our industry needs to be agile and embrace digital transformation wholeheartedly – but not recklessly. Investing in cutting-edge technologies such as AI-driven customer insights and blockchain-enabled transparency can certainly propel brands ahead, but we must approach new technology carefully, only adopting proven systems that allow us to forge deeper connections with consumers.

The use and usefulness of AI is undergoing massive adjustments every day, and not all of them are as good or as effective as the coders and software designers would have us believe. On every journey of discovery there are challenges.

Perhaps the most obvious threat is that of an over-abundance of digital media as content vies for attention, making it increasingly tough for marcomms to cut through the profusion of platforms. One solution to this could be to create much more personalised and immersive storytelling, touching audiences on a more profound, human level.

I also think that collaboration will be a major factor in defining the future of marcomms. Partnerships, between brands, agencies, creatives, influencers, and pan-industry stakeholders, can lead to inspired synergies resulting in expanded market reach and heightened brand resonance, but for this to be effective, we have to look beyond traditional and conventional business attitudes.

We have to be ready to change.

We are already moving towards becoming a data-led industry, so we must be aware of how data privacy concerns can cast a shadow over this exciting digital landscape. We have to adhere to data protection laws while still retaining the ability to develop data-driven insights that can be used to refine strategies for our clients – a delicate balancing act that respects consumer privacy without compromising on effectiveness.

So, as the sector transforms, our seven uniquely integrated business units are more capable than ever of cross-pollination, both strategically and tactically, and thus providing the most effective solutions, while retaining data security at the forefront of our DNA.

Marcomms professionals will have to continuously sharpen their skills and keep up with burgeoning industry trends to anticipate change and shape it to their advantage. As we become more collaborative, we also add increased value to our repertoire through diversification.

We can lead from the front by adopting broader communication channels and experimenting with innovative approaches, showing clients how to improve their reach in a brave new world. Opportunities that are not taken are lost forever. By seizing the day and embracing digital transformation, we can provide superior solutions for clients while championing sustainability, building stronger strategic partnerships and fostering a resilient culture of trust: and remember, the only difference between a challenge and an opportunity is how we deal with them.

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