RIYADH: A new report has revealed that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are uniquely positioned to drive AI innovation after the coronavirus pandemic.
Results of a YouGov survey commissioned by US analytics automation company Alteryx showed that 50 percent of employees who took the test in the two countries are now able to automate their daily tasks.
Fifty-eight percent of employees interviewed said they were able to achieve faster results through the use of analytics technology than they did five years ago.
By comparison, only 16 per cent of workers in the UK, and 24 per cent in Germany, said they could automate similar tasks, the report found.
YouGov surveyed more than 300 employees in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates who have worked with data in large companies.
However, the research found that inconsistently applied training programs continue to hamper an area where only existing experts – such as qualified data scientists – receive vital skills. To highlight the scope of this need, 97 percent of Gulf workers agreed that training is necessary for all employees who handle data.
Muhammad Khurram Khan, professor of cybersecurity at King Saud University in Riyadh, told Arab News: “Advances in artificial intelligence and automation have enabled machines to outperform human workers in more aspects, enhancing productivity, increasing efficiency and reducing labor costs.”
He said that Alteryx’s results showed how Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries have become tech-savvy and ready to embrace digital transformation.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as one of the first countries to adopt the technologies, is harnessing the potential of artificial intelligence with a plan to inject $135.2 billion into its economy by 2030, equivalent to 12.4 percent of the national GDP.
This will not only make the Kingdom one of the global leaders in the field of artificial intelligence, but will also transform it into a knowledge and data-based economy.
Data and artificial intelligence are at the core of Saudi Vision 2030, which is embodied in the recently launched initiatives and strategies led by the Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence. This will not only develop Saudi Arabia as a powerful hub for data and artificial intelligence, but will also make it a global hub for research, development, business and innovation.”
Khan pointed out that one of the obstacles that may hinder AI-based innovations is to hone the skills of experts and professionals and rehabilitate them using the latest tools, techniques and knowledge in data science and analytics.
“Therefore, it is necessary to launch modern educational and training programs to keep the workforce ready to face the new challenges in this field,” he said.
Tasif Ahmed, a health informatics analyst at King Saud University, told Arab News: “It is inspiring to see the new findings as Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region adopt technology to modernize daily operations. Recent years have seen rapid adoption of updated technology.
“The report showed that employee productivity increased 58 percent faster than it was five years ago, demonstrating that these great successes would not have been possible without the help of data scientists. However, appropriate training and workshops should help cover The remaining 42 percent are employees.
“By providing a data skills foundation for all employees and taking pressure off data and technology teams, business leaders can reduce the challenges they face,” he said.
As the advancement of artificial intelligence and automation has enabled machines to outperform human workers, Saudi smart applications such as Absher, Tawakkalna and My Health have made things easier during the pandemic by providing innovative and intelligent interactive services to meet public needs.
The number of registered users of Absher exceeded 23 million last year, as the platform provides more than 300 e-services to individuals, companies, job seekers and government while also allowing online transactions.
The Tawakkalna app, which Saudi authorities launched last year to help track COVID-19 infections, is available in 75 countries around the world. It has been designed around the prevention and management of COVID-19 and has a section to help people avoid entering areas with a high incidence of cases. The app has been updated to show the health status of a COVID-19 individual.
The My Health application of the Saudi Ministry of Health allows users to access health information and medical electronic services provided by health institutions across the Kingdom. This includes booking appointments for COVID-19 tests and vaccinations, self-assessment screening, vital signs updates, tracking of prescribed medications, and taking back and sharing sick leave.