High growth companies in UAE ready for AI adoption, says report

UAE businesses show a significant lead in both maturity and proactivity when it comes to the adoption of artificial intelligence solutions, according to a Microsoft report titled, ‘AI Pulse’.

‘AI Pulse’ is a Microsoft initiative designed to establish the attitudes and intentions of senior executives around the world towards artificial intelligence. The report is the result of widespread research across the US and EMEA region of senior-level decision makers from dozens of industries.

Respondents’ organisations were divided in two categories, high-growth companies, with double-digit growth and lower-growth companies, with single-digit growth. Each company’s AI maturity was then defined as either: waiting, exploring, experimenting, formalising or integrating. It was found that 38 percent of high-growth companies worldwide are either at the formalising or integrating maturity levels, but only 17 percent of lower-growth companies were at those levels.

UAE leaders were polled in late February 2019 and it was found that 47 percent of higher-growth companies and 15 percent of lower-growth firms in the country were in the latter two stages of AI adoption. With higher-growth companies, this represents a significantly higher AI maturity than the global average.

Commenting on the report findings, Sayed Hashish, Microsoft Gulf Regional General Manager said that the UAE AI Strategy 2031 marks a new level of innovation, and the government is significantly investing in the latest AI technologies and tools to enhance performance, efficiency and fuel growth.

"Microsoft strongly believes that AI technologies will have significant impact on what good leadership will mean for future generations, and that sparking conversation now about smart solutions will allow current private and public organisations to take proper stock of the implications of various technologies," he added.

According to the report, UAE organisations also showed a marked lead in proactively adopting AI solutions, when compared with global peers.

Some 70 percent of double-digit growth companies in the UAE intend using AI within the coming year to improve decision-making, as opposed to 46 percent worldwide, while 45 percent of UAE lower-growth firms intend AI adoption for improved decision-making this year, again outpacing the global average of 31 percent.

UAE companies also outpaced the global average in timescales when other AI use cases, such as process optimisation and the development of new products and services, were analysed.

Most companies of either type in the UAE believe AI will have profound effects on many aspects of future leadership, including overall control, problem solving and providing direction for the workforce.

The report went on to note that 78 percent of double-digit growth companies worldwide and 70 percent of others support reskilling measures to ensure that they are prepared for the AI future, in the UAE almost all leaders (greater than 97 percent) said they supported such measures.

When quizzed about ethical AI, just over half of UAE organisations agreed that the issue was one for corporate leadership to address, the report detailed.

The report also highlighted key challenges related to AI that leaders see ahead in their journey. Fifty-six percent of respondents believe that choosing the right talent or upskilling the current workforce remains a hindrance. Only 42 percent of leaders are willing to take the risks revolved around AI and 38 percent are yet to devise their strategy in order to add value in their customer engagements.

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