Cisco AI Readiness Index Reveals 73% of Organizations in the UAE Have a Robust AI Strategy in Place

The Global SurveyHighlights Opportunities and Challeges in Companies’ Preparedness to LeverageAI

News Summary:

  • Progress is underway, yet considerable gaps exist across six key business pillars — strategy, infrastructure, data, governance, talent, and culture
  • Only 7% of local organizations are currently fully equipped with infrastructure to meet AI workloads
  • 80% of organizations in the UAE are investing intraining of AI tools for employees
  • 76% of respondents in the UAE say their organization is embracing AI with a moderate to high level of urgency

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 10 January 2024:A mere 14% of organizations globally are fully prepared to deploy and leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered technologies, according to Cisco’s AI Readiness Indexthat was recently released. The Index, which surveyed over 8,000 global companies, was developed in response to the accelerating the adoption of AI, a generational shift that is impacting almost every area of business and daily life. The report highlights companies’ preparedness to utilize and deploy AI, showcasing critical gaps across key business pillars and infrastructures that pose serious risks for the near future.

In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the AI Readiness Index showed that strategy readiness is the most mature pillar, with 73% of organizations in the country classified as ‘fully prepared’. While improving the efficiency of systems, processes, and operations, was ranked among the top outcomes that companies are looking to drive through adoption of AI. In the UAE, half (50%) of respondents placed this in their top three reasons. This was followed by growing revenue and market share at 48% and improving ability to innovate at 47%.

Commenting on the results of the study, Reem Asaad, Vice President, Cisco Middle East and Africa, said: “The accelerating adoption of AIis impacting almost every aspect of our lives, and will have a pivotal role in shaping future economies.In the past year, we have been witnessing advancement in AI deployments particularly in Generative AI, driven by broad enthusiasm for AI and the endless possibilities it offers for businesses and consumers alike.”

She added: “The UAE is a global powerhouse in developing innovative technologies to foster economic growth, exemplified by its National Strategy for AI. To embrace the power of AI, businesses in the countrymust continue to invest in solutions that secure and observe their AI models and toolchains to ensure performance, secure sensitive data and systems, and deliver trustworthy and responsible AI outcomes.”

Additional report findings for the UAE include:

Strategy Readiness:Step one is strategy, and organizations are well on their way. Effective deployment of any initiative across an organization, including AI, requires a well-defined strategy. This principle is widely acknowledged globally, with 95% of organizations already having a robust AI strategy in place or in the process of developing one. Globally, Strategy emerged as the most mature pillar of the AI Readiness Index, with the same holding true in the UAE, with nearly three-quarters (73%) of organizationsclassified as either ‘Pacesetters’ (fully prepared) or ‘Chasers’ (moderately prepared), with only 2% falling into the category of ‘Laggards’.

Infrastructure for the Future: Networks are not equipped to meet AI workloads. The study finds that in the UAE, Infrastructure readiness is relatively low, with just 7% of local organizations categorized as ‘Pacesetters’ (fully prepared), and close to three-quarters (71%) as ‘Followers’ (limited preparedness) or ‘Laggards’. In the current competitive environment, the ability to leverage AI quickly provides a distinct advantage. Scalability and flexibility of an organization’s existing IT infrastructure are crucial to seizing this advantage. Scalable architecture can grow to handle increasing demands, while flexible architecture can adapt easily to changes without major disruptions.

Importance of Data and Governing Real Risk: Organizations cannot neglect the importance of having data ‘AI-ready.’Despite data serving as the critical backbone and lifeblood necessary for AI operations, in the UAE, Data has the largest number of organizations classified as ‘Laggards’ (unprepared) (27%) and 45% falling into the ‘Followers’ group. AI promises transformative benefits, but navigating its adoption is fraught with risks that demand organizations have a strong framework of policies and protocols in place to guide the ethical and responsible management of data and AI systems. As of 2023, the UAE has launched Regulation 10, which is the first enacted regulationin the MEASA region on the processing of personal data via autonomous and semi-autonomous systems such as artificial intelligence (AI) or generative, machine learning technology.

Talent for the Tech: Investing in training for employees on the rise. When asked to highlight what specific skills were lacking among the employees in their organization, 25% of the UAE respondents ranked comprehension and proficiency of AI tools and technologies as the primary skill gap. The good news is that organizations are taking steps to address the skills gap. Among the organizations surveyed in the UAE, 80% say they are investing in training for employees in this area, highlighting in addition to hiring new talent, companies are upskilling their existing workforce to leverage the full potential of AI technologies they deploy.

Culture is Crucial:Little preparation, but high motivation to make a priority. In the UAE, the growing adoption of AI is poised to bring about large and fundamental culture changes requiring stakeholder support and receptivity for success. Within the Culture pillar, just 6% of respondents qualify as ‘Pacesetters’ (fully prepared) against the determined criteria, with ‘Followers’ (limited preparedness) comprising the largest grouping at 49%. The good news is that motivation is high. Nearly eight out of 10 (76%) say their organization is embracing AI with a moderate to high level of urgency. Only 4% said they were resistant to change. Coupled with 98% of respondents saying that the urgency to deploy AI-powered technologies has increased in their company within the past six months, we can expect this upward trend to continue.

Cisco AI Readiness Index 

The new Cisco AI Readiness Index is based on a double-blind survey of 8,161 private sector business and IT leaders across 30 markets, conducted by an independent third-party surveying respondents from companies with 500 or more employees. The Index assessed respondents’ AI readiness across six key pillars: strategy, infrastructure, data, talent, governance, and culture.

Companies were examined on 49 different metrics across these six pillars to determine a readiness score for each, as well as an overall readiness score for the respondents’ organization. Each indicator was assigned an individual weightage based on its relative importance to achieving readiness for the applicable pillar. Based on their overall score, Cisco has identified four groups at different levels of organizational readiness – Pacesetters (fully prepared), Chasers (moderately prepared), Followers (limited preparedness), and Laggards (unprepared). 

Additional Resources:

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