High-growth firms in the UAE expect AI and GenAI to transform industries

Lack of talent, data privacy, cybersecurity and adequate budget among top concerns


Somshankar Bandyopadhyay

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Published: Wed 12 Jun 2024, 5:32 PM

Generative AI (GenAI) and AI will significantly transform industries in the future, recent research shows.

Dell Technologies Innovation Catalyst Research suggests that while there is broad optimism for AI and GenAI, the extent to which organisations are prepared for the rapid pace of change varies greatly. An overwhelming majority (90 per cent) in the UAE say they are well-positioned competitively and have a solid strategy. At the same time, half (51 per cent) of the respondents are uncertain what their industry will look like in the next three to five years and nearly eight in 10 (75 per cent) report struggling to keep pace. They cite the lack of the right talent (31 per cent), data privacy and cybersecurity concerns (27 per cent) and lack of budget (31 per cent) as challenges they face in driving innovation.

Respondents cite GenAI’s transformative or significant potential to deliver value in improving IT security posture (62 per cent), productivity gains (60 per cent), and to improve customer experience (61 per cent). They are also aware of challenges to overcome. Seventy-five per cent fear GenAI will introduce new security and privacy issues and 89 per cent agreed that their data and IP is too valuable to be placed in a GenAI tool where a third party may have access.

More broadly, responses suggest that organisations are working through GenAI practicalities as they transition from ideation to implementation, with 58 per cent saying they have begun implementing GenAI. As organisations increase adoption, concern centres around understanding where risks reside and who is responsible for them. Eighty per cent agree that the organisation, rather than the machine, the user or the public, is responsible for any AI malfunction or undesired behaviour.

Walid Yehia, managing director – UAE at Dell Technologies, said: “GenAI represents the most significant technological leap in decades. It offers immense potential to boost innovation bringing tangible, positive change to the world around us. UAE businesses are well-positioned to leverage the technology to enhance operational efficiency, improve customer experiences and create new opportunities across industries.”

Cybersecurity more broadly continues to be a pain point for organisations. These concerns are well-founded, as 93 per cent of respondents say they have been impacted by a security attack in the past 12 months. The majority (98 per cent) are pursuing a zero trust deployment strategy and 85 per cent say they have an Incident Response Plan in place to recover from a cyberattack or data leakage.

The top three cited issues included malware, phishing and data breaches. Issues with phishing are indicative of a wider problem highlighted in the report, which is the role employees play in the threat landscape. For example, 80 per cent of respondents believe some employees go around IT security guidelines and practices because they delay efficiency and productivity, and 78 per cent say that insider threats are a big concern. This indicates a need to focus on training as employees are the first line of defence.

The research also reveals modern data infrastructure’s critical role as technologies like GenAI gather pace and data volumes increase. Investing in a modern, scalable infrastructure was cited as the number one area of improvement for businesses to accelerate innovation. Most IT decision makers (87 per cent) say they prefer an on-prem or hybrid model, to address the challenges they foresee with implementing GenAI.

The ability to share data across the business is also a key part of the innovation puzzle, with only 1 in 3 (31 per cent) saying they can turn data into real-time insights today to support innovation efforts. However, responses suggest organisations are acting on this challenge, with 79 per cent saying that data is the differentiator and their GenAI strategy must involve using and protecting that data. Almost half (42 per cent) also claim they anticipate that the bulk of their data will come from the edge in the next five years.

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