42% of UAE Firms Embrace AI, Retail Urged to Innovate

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IBM’s latest studies shed light on the significant embrace of AI in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with 42% of businesses in the region actively integrating AI into their operations. The findings, drawn from the 2023 Global AI Adoption Index by Morning Consult and IBM’s biennial consumer study focusing on the Middle East and Africa (MEA), emphasize the transformative impact AI is having on both consumer behavior and enterprise operations.

Bill Farrell, Managing Partner of IBM Consulting in MEA, stressed the imperative for UAE businesses to adopt AI, not merely as a competitive advantage but as a fundamental necessity in today’s digital environment. He highlighted IBM’s commitment to ethical AI practices and its role in supporting businesses through innovative AI and hybrid cloud solutions.

The Global AI Adoption Index 2023, which surveyed over 8,500 IT professionals including those from the UAE, underscores the rapid pace of AI adoption in various sectors. Notably, 65% of IT professionals in the UAE reported significant acceleration in AI integration over the past two years, driving efficiency, innovation, and competitiveness in the market. UAE’s leading position in AI adoption, with 42% of companies already deploying AI, reflects a proactive stance toward technological advancement.

Investments in AI are strategically focused on research and development and workforce upskilling, ensuring sustained growth and innovation in AI technologies. Currently, 34% of UAE companies have a comprehensive AI strategy in place, with an additional 30% in the process of development.

On the consumer front, IBM’s study “Revolutionize retail with AI everywhere: Customers won’t wait” highlights a growing disparity between shopper expectations and the current retail landscape. Despite a global preference for physical stores, only 3% of MEA consumers are satisfied with their in-store experiences. This dissatisfaction is driving a trend towards digitally integrated shopping experiences, with 75% of MEA consumers supplementing in-store experiences with mobile applications.

The study also reveals significant interest among MEA consumers in AI’s potential to enhance their shopping journey, with 9 out of 10 expressing interest in AI applications and 75% eager for AI enhancements such as virtual assistants. Retailers are urged to innovate and integrate advanced technologies like AI to meet evolving consumer demands and elevate the shopping experience.

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