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Anas A. Abdul-Haiy, the Director and Deputy CEO of Proven Consult, speaks to Future Tech about the development of the AI arena in this region

What sort of development have you seen in the AI arena in the region?
The GCC region has been evolving rapidly and has observed a drastic modification with AI technologies, especially in countries such as UAE and Saudi Arabia. According to PwC Middle East, GCC economies are already moving towards AI and adopting advanced technologies, with increased AI adoption being estimated at approximately $277 billion by 2030.

The biggest opportunity for AI in the GCC has been in the construction and manufacturing sector, where estimated adoption has been 31%, followed by 24.5% in the energy, utilities, and mining sector, and 18.5% in the public sector, including education and healthcare; of all AI investment in the region predicted for 2030.

Overall, the potential gains at the industry level are likely to depend on the ability of businesses to automate processes, and on the potential impact of further innovation due to AI.

What sort of AI factor have you seen or recommend in combating COVID 19?
Today, AI technologies play a key role in all aspects of the COVID-19 crisis response. AI can be utilized to understand the virus and can be used to accelerate medical research on drugs and treatments, detection, and diagnosing of the virus. AI can also assist in preventing or slowing the virus’ spread through surveillance and contact tracing, responding to the health crisis through personalised information and insights gathered, in turn aiding
in monitoring the recovery process and improving early warning tools.

How can companies transform into an AI company post-crisis?
Most companies already have extensive experience with digital applications such as automation and basic data analytics. But AI, which enables machines to solve problems and take actions that in the past could only be done by humans, goes far beyond that. AI tools analyze immense volumes of data to learn underlying patterns, enabling computer systems to make complex decisions, predict human behavior, and recognize images and human speech, among many other things.

AI-enabled systems also continuously learn and adapt. These capabilities will be enormously valuable as companies confront and adapt to the new reality of the current crisis and its aftermath. This new reality will significantly impact companies’ costs, revenue, and operating models. AI can play a significant role in enabling companies to thrive and seize a competitive advantage in this new environment.

Is there a way to reinvent processes that previously required physical documents, to become paperless?
Intelligent Document Automation (IDA) can help to reinvent processes that previously required physical documents, to become paperless. IDA integrates multiple technologies – Artificial Intelligence (AI), Business Process Management (BPM), Robotic Process Automation (RPA), and Optical Character Recognition (OCR) – on a unified platform. IDA is the next generation of automation, able to capture, extract, and process data from a variety of document formats. It uses AI technologies such as natural language processing (NLP), computer vision, deep learning, and machine learning (ML) to classify, categorize, and extract relevant information, validating the extracted data. IDA can significantly impact companies’ growth, customer experience, employee performance, and job satisfaction.

How do you think can companies operate in an agile manner to enable nimble, data-driven teams?
Many of the world’s biggest companies struggle to be nimble, efficient, and data-driven, which makes them less productive than they should be. It’s not just their size that holds them back; much of the problem is created by traditional business models that have been created for scale and standardization, rather than for agility and innovation.

According to Boston Consulting Group (BCG), large-scale agile transformation isn’t just about technology. It’s about a new way of thinking. It’s more collaborative, more open, more creative, and much more efficient than other business models. And it’s something that can be implemented across a company, not just in a few departments.

Companies can achieve agile transformation at three levels: the project level, which is relatively easy to accomplish; the portfolio level, which is more complex; and the organization level, which requires a complete rethinking of a company’s operating model. Moving effectively from the first level to the last can be difficult for a large organization, but companies that move in progressive steps can succeed.

Can companies apply AI to discover emerging trends and identify changes in consumer preferences?
Before AI, only specialised qualified personnel could analyse the market and seek out trends. Now artificial intelligence is doing the task for them. The work of a trend forecaster includes two points; notice the recurring patterns and predict how they will develop. For example, in the fashion industry, you analyze fashion shows, exhibitions, street style, and celebrity looks. The results help you identify those trends that will affect fashion. However, it is important to understand how consumer attitudes and behavior are changing – lifestyle changes play a big role in how things happen.

Forecasters provide businesses with up-to-date information on new trends that they need to focus on when planning the commercial development of a product. This helps them make quick and accurate decisions, which translates into a direct path to growth and new ideas. In addition, trend-forecasting allows the entrepreneur to know in advance about the new emerging demand for a particular product, in order to know what investment decisions to make for a good profit.

Any other info you would like to add?
Artificial intelligence is impacting the future of virtually every industry and every human being. Artificial intelligence has acted as the main driver of emerging technologies like big data, robotics, and IoT, and it will continue to act as a technological innovator for the foreseeable future.

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