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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 16 November 2018

Eight in 10 Middle East business execs say tech is part of daily life in the region

A new report from Accenture sheds light on regional companies' tech appetite and readiness

Cutting-edge technology is now a driving force in the region's business landscape. EPA
Cutting-edge technology is now a driving force in the region's business landscape. EPA

The majority of business executives in the Middle East believe technology is firmly embedded in the daily activities of the region and that industries and governments are using it to transform their core operations and reshape methods of working and communicating, a new report says.

Eighty-three per cent of Middle East businesses and IT executives agreed that through technology, companies are weaving themselves into people’s everyday lives – from ordering groceries online to bringing a yet-to-be-built Dubai penthouse to life in virtual reality – according to Accenture’s Technology Vision 2018 report. The IT company surveyed 6,400 related businesses and executives for its research.

Tech adoption is poised for growth as executives said they are prioritising investments in artificial intelligence (64 per cent) and the internet of things (68 per cent) in the coming months.

“Countries across the Middle East region are committed to harnessing technology and the power of AI as an engine for economic growth and diversification,” said Alexis Lecanuet, regional managing director at Accenture Middle East and Turkey.

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The UAE is the front-runner in the region, according to Accenture, which said the implementation of AI has the potential to boost economic growth by 1.6 per cent of GDP, adding $182 billion (Dh668.3bn) to the economy by 2035.

In Saudi Arabia, use of AI is forecast to contribute more than 1 per cent of GDP, adding $215bn to the kingdom’s economy by 2035.

“The UAE continues to witness the exponential speed at which technology is disrupting industries, and as a future-focused country, it is fortunate to have the mindset required to leverage these technology advancements,” said Mr Lecanuet.

Examples of commitment to digital transformation range from Saudi Arabia’s vision for Neom, a planned mega-city that will implement AI for every resident, to the UAE’s strategy for AI, a major pillar of its Centennial 2071 objectives, which Omar Al Olama, the world’s first Minister of Artificial Intelligence, is helping to oversee.

The challenge for most is to keep up with the rapid pace of advancement. Seventy-seven per cent of UAE executives surveyed agree that AI is advancing faster than their company’s pace of adoption. When it comes to understanding the extent to which employees understand how AI can be used within an organisation, only 12 per cent of the UAE executives reported their employees have a full understanding of the process.