UAE is a future thinking nation, always investing in fields that will bring accelerated growth to the country. In the past 10 years, it has invested a total of $2.15 billion in artificial intelligence, making in the region’s second highest investor in AI, as per AI Maturity Report in the Middle East and Africa (MEA), a new study commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by Ernst & Young.
The bulk of this investment went towards social media and Internet of Things, IoT, transactions. This was followed by notable spend across a further eight technologies, including smart mobile, gamification, and machine learning.AI Maturity Report in the Middle East and Africa (MEA)
Respondents ranked machine learning as the most useful AI technology, with primary emphasis placed on decision support solutions. This was followed by smart robotics and text analysis, where customer interactions were the key focus.
AI is the top digital priority of 18 percent UAE businesses. Leaders across the country are recognising that artificial intelligence is becoming a key differentiator across all sectors, thereby gaining priority from top management.
In fact, 94 percent of companies in the UAE say ‘AI Strategy’ to be an important topic at C-suite level; reporting involvement from executive management in AI agendas to be the highest percentage of any surveyed country in MEA. Good news is that 35 percent of companies said that the AI discussions are filtering down from top management through to non-managerial levels.
When we examine companies with high AI maturity, it’s clear that the technology is driven directly by the CEOs themselves. This high level of involvement typically results in greater investment in AI, broader adoption and a greater number of successful implementations.Sayed Hashish, Regional General Manager at Microsoft Gulf.
However, there is a huge gap between the desired number of company employees having AI competencies, versus the real numbers. “64 percent of respondents believe they have moderate, little or no AI leadership competency, while 24 percent of executives in the UAE rated themselves as highly competent, with another 46 percent indicating they are either competent or very competent.”
Hashish says company executives are already investing in training and education of their employees. Businesses are also engaging with third parties to promote skills transfer and identify AI use within the business. In order to meet the companies’ and government’s AI agenda.
There is a growing need for AI education, not only through training and theory, but by practical work and on-the-job skills transfer. This is where AI startups come in. By working with companies interested in incorporating AI as part of their processes or products, startups can leverage their skills while gaining the support to grow bigger.
Drawing on multiple sources of data, the AI Maturity Report in the Middle East and Africa determines, why, where and how AI is currently being used in business. The study is based on surveys, interviews and case studies from 101 companies across the Middle East and Africa, covering seven major sectors, including Health, Manufacturing and Resources, Financial Services, Professional Services, Retail, ICT and Media, Infrastructure and Transport.