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Sun 4 Nov 2018 02:29 PM

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Harnessing AI to unlock a $16.9bn revenue opportunity

Brand View: When embarking on digital transformation projects, there is much for enterprises to consider, says Ziad Rizk, CEO, Crayon Middle East and Africa

Harnessing AI to unlock a $16.9bn revenue opportunity
Ziad Rizk, CEO, Crayon Middle East and Africa.

Digital Transformation has clearly become a big focus for many organizations in both public and private sectors. Government initiatives such as UAE Vision 2021 and Saudi Vision 2030 are key drivers for governments to kick off their digital transformation programs across public-sector organizations.

As part of these initiatives, the impact that artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will have upon businesses and consumers alike is never far from the news agenda.

With the launch of ‘UAE Strategy for Artificial Intelligence (AI)’ and the appointment of its first State Minister for AI in October last year, the UAE signalled its intent to lead in the field of digital transformation.

For Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, the Honourable Minister of State for AI, and his team, the reasons are obvious; Within the next three years, companies and economies in the Middle East may benefit from an extra $16.9bn in extra revenue, with McKinsey suggesting that there might be an additional $17.3bn in savings to be had. What’s more is that right now, the Middle East has only realised 8 percent of its overall digital potential in comparison to Western Europe and the US, with 18 and 15 percent respectively. Unlocking the region’s potential would bring an additional $95bn a year to its annual GDP.

Such statistics haven’t escaped the boardroom, as many more businesses embark on digital transformation projects to harness the benefits they bring in terms of agility and performance. Currently, 31 percent of businesses have reached the discovery and evaluation stage, with one fifth of those firms running AI trials. A further 22 percent are hedging their bets on joining the revolution within two years, rather than being disrupted by it.

As it stands, the UAE’s AI strategy currently covers developing applications and capabilities in nine sectors comprising of transport, health, space, renewable energy, water, technology, education, environment, and traffic.

AI and ML can help transform data analysis and collection in these industries. Tasks that might take multiple humans-days or weeks can be dealt with in minutes and seconds. In the manufacturing sector, for example, the use of AI to automate and optimise the decision -making process has already seen great progress. And rather than disrupt, the view is that AI and ‘smart factory’ digital technologies will bring about advances in productivity whilst empowering staff to work smarter. That’s according to 92% of senior executives surveyed in the Annual Manufacturing Report 2018 (AMR 2018).

In healthcare, an area in which Crayon has been investing in heavily, machine learning allows for deep analysis of complex medical data, to enable more accurate diagnosis and treatment suggestion on the part of doctors. For pharma and medicine, that could be a $100bn annual innovation opportunity when it comes to improving the efficiency of research and clinical trials, and building new tools for physicians, consumers, insurers, and regulators.

The promise of an AI driven intelligent future for organizations is bright, however the challenge remains in articulating that vision and presenting this in a workable format that not only delivers upon perceived goals, but also takes into account the reality of certain situations  and "The Expectation Gap" or the heightened level and belief amongst C-Level leaders on what AI can and cannot deliver for organizations.

Crayon's “Why, What and How” approach guarantees to not just deliver AI driven value but also to do so within a clear context of ‘why’ that value and strategy should be implemented, ‘how’ that benchmarks to a best practice within a specific industry and what needs to be done to leverage it. Plus, our deep technical and training skills take seriously the need to ensure that there is an appropriate handover to client-side teams who have the relevant expertise to manage AI implementations and deployments.

When executed properly, an AI strategy should boost productivity and cut costs, as well as stimulate innovation. Already 61% of firms with an innovation strategy are harnessing AI to identify opportunities in data they would otherwise have missed. Yet, as they embark on their journey, those in the boardroom must endeavour to reimagine the relationship between staff and artificial intelligence as one of collaboration, if they are to reach their digital transformation goals.

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