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UAE businesses lead on AI maturity and adoption, says Microsoft

Microsoft survey shows UAE high growth companies claim greater readiness for AI

Future successful leaders will be those that understand the implications of AI, says Hashish.
Future successful leaders will be those that understand the implications of AI, says Hashish.

UAE businesses show a significant lead in both maturity and proactiveness when it comes to the adoption of artificial intelligence solutions, according to a new report from Microsoft.

The ‘AI Pulse' report surveyed senior level decision makers in  US and EMEA companies to find out their level of awareness of AI.

The companies were split into those with double-digit (high) or single digit (lower) growth. AI maturity was classified as ‘waiting', ‘exploring', ‘experimenting', ‘formalising' or ‘integrating'.

Thirty-eight percent of high growth companies were classed as ‘formalising' or ‘integrating', but only 17% of low growth fell into those categories. In the UAE, 47% of higher growth companies ranked in these two leading categories, against 15% of lower growth. Microsoft said that this represents a significantly higher AI maturity than the global average for high growth companies.

UAE organisations also showed a marked lead in proactivity in adopting AI solutions, when compared with global peers. Some 70% of double-digit growth companies in the UAE intend using AI within the coming year to improve decision-making, as opposed to 46% worldwide. Some 45% of UAE lower-growth firms intend AI adoption for improved decision-making this year, again outpacing the global average of 31%. 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.

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% 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% of UAE respondents.

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. While 78% of double-digit growth companies worldwide and 70% of others support reskilling measures to ensure that they are prepared for the AI future, in the UAE almost all leaders (greater than 97%) said they supported such measures. And when quizzed about ethical AI, just over half of UAE organisations agreed that the issue was one for corporate leadership to address.

The report also highlighted key challenges related to AI that leaders see ahead in their journey. 56% believe that choosing the right talent or upskilling the current workforce remains a hindrance. Only 42% leaders are willing to take the risks revolved around AI and 38% are yet to devise their strategy in order to add value in their customer engagements.

 "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. 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," said Sayed Hashish, Regional General Manager, Microsoft Gulf.

"As players in the Fourth Industrial Revolution's daily drama, we often talk about digital transformation," Hashish added. "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. The adoption patterns revealed in AI Pulse's findings are important. 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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