The UAE’s dedication to adopting the latest technologies has put it ahead of the global average when it comes to artificial intelligence (AI) maturity, a new research has revealed.
Microsoft’s AI Pulse report revealed that UAE organisations showed a marked lead in proactiveness in adopting AI solutions, when compared with global peers. Around 70 per cent of double-digit growth companies in the UAE intend using AI within the coming year to improve decision-making, as opposed to 46 per cent worldwide. In addition, 45 per cent of the UAE’s single-digit growth firms intend AI adoption for improved decision-making this year, again outpacing the global average of 31 per cent.
AI Pulse is a global Microsoft initiative designed to establish the attitudes and intentions of senior executives around the world towards artificial intelligence. 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 per cent of high-growth companies worldwide are either at the ‘formalising’ or ‘integrating’ maturity levels, but only 17 per cent of lower-growth companies were at those levels.
UAE leaders were polled in February 2019 and it was found that 47 per cent of higher-growth companies and 15 per cent of lower-growth firms in the country were in the ‘formalising’ or ‘integrating’ stages of AI adoption. With higher-growth companies, this represents a significantly higher AI maturity than the global average.
Experts believe that UAE businesses are on the right path when it comes to the adoption of AI solutions, with the momentum being led by the government sector.
“The UAE AI strategy 2031 is marking 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,” said Sayed Hashish, regional general manager, Microsoft Gulf. “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.”
Speaking about the results of the AI Pulse report, Susan Etlinger, industry analyst at Altimeter Group, said that what is striking about the research is the difference between double-digit growth companies and those with lower growth. “Double-digit growth companies are further along in their AI deployments, but also see a greater urgency in using more AI. They are looking at a 1-3 year timeframe – often times really focused on the coming year. Lower growth companies are looking at more of a 5-year timeframe. What this says to me is that the more you know, the higher your sense of urgency is.”
The report also revealed that when it came to leadership issues, respondents were broadly split over business priorities, with no clear preferences emerging from the global poll. However, UAE leaders showed a greater degree of certainty, with 38 per cent selecting the evaluation of success as the top priority for time investment. The prioritisation of goals and initiatives was tied among UAE leaders for second place with the processing of facts and information, each receiving endorsement from 30 per cent of UAE respondents.
In addition, most companies in the UAE believe that AI will have profound effects on many aspects of future leadership, including overall control, problem solving, and providing direction for the workforce. While 78 per cent of double-digit growth companies worldwide and 70 per cent of others support re-skilling measures to ensure that they are prepared for the AI future, 97 per cent of leaders in the UAE said that they supported such measures. And when asked about ethical AI, just over half of UAE organisations agreed that the issue was one for corporate leadership to address.
“Successful leaders use AI for operational tasks but also to become more effective leaders – in other words, drive growth, set the right priorities and free time for inspiring people. It is interesting to see leaders wanting to put more energy on engaging and inspiring people as AI becomes more prevalent. In this way, I actually think AI will make good leaders less busy and even more human,” said Heike Bruch, professor of Leadership at the University of St. Gallen.
“As players in the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s daily drama, we often talk about digital transformation,” said Hashish. “But often, the best way to transform an organisation is to transform its leadership. A reboot in corporate culture can be just as potent as the technology stack you build. We need to get the word out that future successful leaders will not be those that try to be the source of all answers, but those who learn to ask the right questions and who take a shrewd and ethical approach to technology adoption.”
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