Generative AI’s Quiet Takeover: UAE Employees and Students Embrace Tech in Shadows
In a recent study conducted by global management consultancy Oliver Wyman, it has been revealed that over a third of workers and students in the United Arab Emirates [UAE] are already leveraging the capabilities of generative AI technologies, even though their employers and educators remain largely unaware of this burgeoning trend within their respective organisations.
The study’s findings indicate that the UAE’s covert utilisation of generative AI mirrors the worldwide average at 39 percent, with Mexico leading the pack at 46 percent and Italy ranking lowest at 34 percent. Diving deeper into specific industries, the research reveals that 45 percent of individuals in the manufacturing sector within the UAE have embraced AI technologies without the awareness of their employers. This trend is followed by the tech sector at 38 percent, and financial services at 33 percent.
Generative AI, a type of artificial intelligence that can produce a wide array of content including text, audio, and visual materials, has gained significant traction in various sectors globally. Examples of prominent generative AI applications in the GCC include popular platforms such as ChatGPT, GPT-4, Bard, and Synthesia.
Conducted in July 2023 by the Oliver Wyman Forum, the management consultancy’s think tank dedicated to addressing global challenges, the research emphasises the transformative potential of generative AI on the workforce of the future. According to Jad Haddad, Head of Digital at Oliver Wyman in India, the Middle East and Africa, the impact of generative AI is undeniable and positive. He highlights the importance of fostering a purpose-driven approach to AI adoption, indicating that its rate of acceptance and ensuing transformation will hinge on industry-specific policies, actions, and openness to innovation.
Haddad also acknowledges the inevitability of employees and students turning to AI covertly, asserting that the technology, when properly harnessed, holds the capacity to streamline and expedite cumbersome processes. While acknowledging the need for vigilant risk management, he underlines that disregarding the potential of AI could inadvertently lead to increased covert usage, thereby posing significant cybersecurity threats.
In light of the study’s revelations, Haddad urges all organisations in the GCC to proactively devise comprehensive policies for early generative AI adoption. He underscores the urgency of embracing the presence of these AI technologies and underscores that a proactive approach is essential in order to effectively harness their potential.
The study underscores the emerging prominence of generative AI technologies in the UAE and the broader GCC region. As the covert utilisation of AI gains momentum, organisations are urged to acknowledge its presence, seize the transformative opportunities it presents, and implement robust policies to ensure responsible and secure adoption in the rapidly evolving digital landscape.