AI to be an integral part of UAE business in post-COVID-19 era: Survey

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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According to the American multinational conglomerate General Electric (GE), more than two-thirds of UAE business leaders say that Artificial Intelligence-led technologies would be even more important to their businesses in a post-COVID-19 era.

According to the 2020 GE Global Innovation Barometer survey released recently, more than three-quarters of UAE executives believe AI will enhance the remote work experience for employees, allowing more people to work from home and concentrate on more high-level productive tasks.

Almost 40 percent said that AI would be an “indispensable tool” in the battle against COVID-19 and potential future pandemics, while 38 percent said that AI would minimize costs, offering more job security for employees.

“AI is seen as important to facilitate new innovations and improve the working experience especially for remote working employees,” the report said. “AI is a catalyst for innovation, and an indispensable tool.”

Innovation in and post pandemic era

The ninth edition of the survey illustrates how perceptions of business executives have changed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

GE surveyed business executives shaping their company’s innovation policies and decisions in global markets including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, China, France, India, Poland, South Africa, US and Vietnam. In the UAE, GE polled 102 innovation executives in September and 101 in January.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the use of AI by companies which includes subfields like machine learning, natural language processing and computer vision to wield competitive advantages.

In terms of innovation among industries, healthcare ranked highest in making significant progress in innovation over the last six months during the pandemic, according to UAE executives surveyed. High tech and IT, telecoms and internet, communications, electronics and media and culture rounded off the top five industries making inroads in innovation during the period, according to UAE business leaders.

Some 85 percent of UAE business leaders said innovation plays a crucial role in protecting public health and well being, according to the survey. There is an even bigger need now to use innovative solutions for public health challenges, according to 88 percent of the UAE respondents.

Top innovator

Global executives were asked about the country they see as the innovation champion in the world. Some 24 percent of Middle East executives selected China. Executives in the Emirates see the UAE as the top innovator globally.

Asked which markets develop an innovation-friendly climate, 4 out of 10 global business executives said the UAE has created an “innovation-conducive environment”, according to the GE survey.

The majority of global and UAE executives agreed that innovation should have long-term benefits to society and the environment, GE said.