Paul Pot­gi­eter, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, UAE, Di­men­sion Data, ex­plains how ag­gres­sively in­vest­ing in ed­u­ca­tion of dig­i­tal skills is pre­par­ing the youth for fu­ture em­ploy­ment and tech­nol­ogy led eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

Channel Middle East - - Industry View -

The huge growth in data vol­umes is putting pres­sure on all com­pet­i­tive busi­nesses to find in­no­va­tive ways of man­ag­ing the growth in vol­ume. -


Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence (AI) and Blockchain are two sig­nif­i­cant tech­nolo­gies that are ex­pected to change the re­gional land­scape in terms of de­mand for spe­cialised skills. A com­put­ing sys­tem that uses AI can sense its work­ing en­vi­ron­ment and can think about it, learn about it, and take ac­tion within it. In gen­eral, AI helps bet­ter busi­ness de­ci­sion­mak­ing through faster hu­man re­sponses, au­to­ma­tion of man­ual tasks, and cre­ation of au­to­mated de­ci­sion-mak­ing.

The huge growth in data vol­umes is putting pres­sure on all com­pet­i­tive busi­nesses to find in­no­va­tive ways of man­ag­ing the growth in vol­ume. This in­cludes the need to clas­sify data as well as to draw busi­ness in­sights from the data. Sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fits from us­ing ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence led tech­nolo­gies, have led global ICT re­search firm, IDC, to forecast that av­er­age Mid­dle East and Africa spend­ing growth will be 32% into 2021. Busi­nesses will in­vest sig­nif­i­cantly in AI to grow the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of em­ploy­ees in terms of pro­duc­tiv­ity and ef­fi­ciency.

Across the re­gion, bank­ing and fi­nance or­gan­i­sa­tions will lead the ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence adop­tion curve. Gov­ern­ment, ed­u­ca­tion, health­care and man­u­fac­tur­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions will fol­low in the adop­tion and im­ple­men­ta­tion cy­cle. Early use cases of AI will ap­pear in de­fense, ter­ror­ism, in­ves­ti­ga­tion, gov­ern­ment in­tel­li­gence, au­to­mated cus­tomer ser­vice, fraud anal­y­sis and in­ves­ti­ga­tion. In­no­va­tion in de­vel­op­ment of use cases will be as­sisted by nat­u­ral lan­guage pro­cess­ing, con­tent ag­gre­ga­tion, and ma­chine learn­ing.

The UAE has al­ready adopted such sys­tems in se­lec­tive or­gan­i­sa­tions in­clud­ing Emi­rates

NBD and De­part­ment of Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment, Dubai through cog­ni­tive as­sis­tants Eva and

Rashid. In Oc­to­ber 2017, the UAE Gov­ern­ment launched its UAE Strat­egy for Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence.

The broad ob­jec­tives cover: Trans­port – to re­duce ac­ci­dents and op­er­a­tional costs; Traf­fic – to re­duce ac­ci­dents and con­ges­tion; Health - to min­i­mize chronic dis­eases; Re­new­ables – to man­age fa­cil­i­ties; Tech­nol­ogy – to in­crease pro­duc­tiv­ity; Ed­u­ca­tion – to cut costs and en­hance de­sire for ed­u­ca­tion; En­vi­ron­ment – to in­crease foresta­tion rate.

Blockchain tech­nol­ogy on the other hand uses an open source plat­form and dis­trib­uted com­put­ing ar­chi­tec­ture. It is a dis­trib­uted ledger tech­nol­ogy that drives any busi­ness that de­pends on high com­pli­ance stan­dards of record­ing any trans­ac­tion. Records of trans­ac­tions on a blockchain ledger can­not be mod­i­fied or hacked, mak­ing it suit­able for the high­est lev­els of na­tional record keep­ing.

In April 2018, the UAE Gov­ern­ment launched its Emi­rates Blockchain Strat­egy 2021, which aims to cap­i­tal­ize on the blockchain tech­nol­ogy to trans­form 50% of gov­ern­ment trans­ac­tions into the blockchain plat­form by 2021. By adopt­ing this tech­nol­ogy, the UAE gov­ern­ment is ex­pected to save AED 11 bil­lion in doc­u­ments pro­cess­ing in­volv­ing an­nual print­ing of 398 mil­lion doc­u­ments and 77 mil­lion work hours. Adopt­ing blockchain to se­cure dig­i­tal trans­ac­tions, al­lows the gov­ern­ment to as­sign a unique iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­ber for its cus­tomers, point­ing to their repos­i­tory of doc­u­ments and trans­ac­tions.

So com­pelling are the use­cases that spend­ing on blockchain so­lu­tions in Mid­dle East and Africa in 2018 is ex­pected to dou­ble over 2017, ac­cord­ing to IDC. Tech­nol­ogy spend­ing on blockchain so­lu­tions will con­tinue to grow into 2021 at an av­er­age growth rate of 77%. Re­gional gov­ern­ments have iden­ti­fied blockchain as a key en­abler and will take the lead in adop­tion, fol­lowed by ed­u­ca­tion, health­care, fi­nan­cial ser­vices, dis­tri­bu­tion and other ser­vices.

Adop­tion of all th­ese tech­nolo­gies with their com­pelling use cases re­quires spe­cial­ized ed­u­ca­tion at re­gional col­lege and univer­sity, grass root lev­els. The re­cent One Mil­lion Arab Coders ini­tia­tive launched in Oc­to­ber 2017 by HH Sheikh Mo­hammed bin Rashid Al Mak­toum, Vice-Pres­i­dent and Prime Min­is­ter of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, is a move­ment in this di­rec­tion. This pro­gram seeks to help one mil­lion young Arab pro­gram­mers de­velop their dig­i­tal and cod­ing skills of the fu­ture for ar­eas like ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, ro­bot­ics, cog­ni­tive and bi­o­log­i­cal sciences, and pro­gram­ming.

By de­vel­op­ing skills of the fu­ture to­day, for­ward look­ing na­tions are build­ing em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for their youth, while en­sur­ing the same na­tions pros­per eco­nom­i­cally through the foun­da­tion of in­no­va­tive tech­nolo­gies.

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