Artificial Intelligence and Business Intelligence; Both Indispensable Tools for a Digital Future

By Alaa Youssef, Managing Director – Middle East at SAS

In the wake of the fourth industrial revolution that has swept the globe, and most certainly in the Middle East, significant technology advancement has completely upended how businesses operate. Accelerating innovation and growing automation technologies have become widespread and our region is making a concerted effort to embrace and adopt these technologies and consolidate its position at the forefront of digitization.

Key assets of the fourth industrial revolution, also commonly referred to as Industry 4.0, include artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, financial technology (fintech), robotics, and analytics. Experts say that this revolution will touch almost every facet of our day-to-day lives, from the manufacturing of goods to the provision of everyday services.

Both, AI and business intelligence (BI) are industry game changers for the region as it ambitiously changes its traditional and siloed work landscape. Analytics lies at the very core of this transformation, as the data fed to and produced by our everyday devices such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets are already in massive circulation. This forms the basis of business intelligence, a crucial ingredient for a solid foundation of deep business insight and intelligent enterprise operations as businesses strive to be consistent with the regional digital agenda.

Today’s regional news agenda is overflowing with stories of many business entities adopting AI and implementing BI, both of which are leading and key drivers in strategic government plans. In line with this, a number of AI-enabled projects have been announced across a number of industries which will aid in digitally transforming the Middle East.

There has clearly been a paradigm shift as governments and businesses across the Middle East adjust to the global movement towards AI and advanced technologies. In a nutshell, they are faced with either being part of this technological disruption or being left behind.

Recent PwC research revealed that the UAE will benefit the most from the ongoing digital transformation revolution in the Middle East, where AI is expected to contribute almost 14 per cent of GDP in 2030, which is equivalent to $96 billion (Dh353 billion). Saudi Arabia closely follows at (12.4 per cent). 

The UAE is spearheading the AI movement, having announced a dedicated Ministry of Artificial Intelligence late last year. Other strategic endeavors include the Smart Dubai strategy, which aims to digitally transform the city and train business and government entities on what they need to do to embrace the phenomenon and incorporate it into daily business operations. In neighboring Saudi Arabia, both Vision 2030 and National Transformation Program 2020 are in action as the Kingdom is working hard to equip its people with the skills they need to meet demands of the future labor market.

Digital transformation is a key driver across both countries’ national agendas and its benefits can be felt in all sectors covered. For example, digital transformation of the government sector will mean faster execution of government initiatives and will help achieve efficiency and productivity while doing so. It is now more crucial than ever to leverage the power of big data and advanced analytics to boost productivity and increase efficiency. The same also applies to the private sector as well.

Prime examples include local ministries using AI in infrastructure and road projects to help cut down on cost, time, and manpower and boost safety and efficiency along with automating equipment. The retail industry is also keen on using AI and BI to understand the customer’s mentality and their path to purchase as this enables retailers to provide consumers with a personalized shopping experience and options best suited to their tastes according to data collected from them while they were in the store. The UAE’s Department of Economic development recently unveiled an AI-enabled bilingual 24x7 ‘Smart Protection’ service designed to address customer queries that are transmitted via a smartphone application.

Technology experts have identified that the demand for both AI and BI is growing in the Middle Eastern market, as it aims to catapult itself out of using outdated technologies and accelerate towards prosperity. Time is of the essence for them to introduce and implement technologies, primarily AI and BI that are productive, secure, and efficient.

Once this is achieved, the entire region can reap the benefits of such efforts, making local and strategic national visions a livable reality for all citizens, residents, and respective beneficiaries alike. This will be a living testimony for the region being less dependent on oil as it diversifies its revenue sources over the next decade or so.

In short, the Middle East is on the cusp of being a robust hub of innovation as it demonstrates strong commitment towards fully implementing its vision, while investing heavily to become future-ready and as equipped as its counterparts in the game.

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