We all know by now that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not just a trend, but it is here to stay. Nothing unusual in noting that waves of innovation tend to start in the West and end up winding here. This wave is no different.
Even though amazing initiatives are being taken by governments in the region, companies and decision makers have yet to acknowledge the value that AI would bring to their daily lives. Not only will it help increase their ROI, but it will also make their processes more efficient, by optimizing the way they do things. Redundant tasks will be eliminated, and employees will have more time to pursue more meaningful tasks.
All of the above sound ideal, and in theory very appealing to anyone, but the reality is not that simple. Here are a few bumps that I seem to be experiencing in this region ever since I moved from NYC:
1. “Why fix what’s not broken?”
- There is a strong belief that if things are working well, and money is flowing, then there is absolutely no need to change anything. Why fix what’s not broken? Why change a system that looks perfectly fine? The reality is that businesses accumulate “fat” every year if they do not change. Where there is fat, there is money wasted.
2. “I’ve been running this company for 20 years.”
- Ego can play a very big role in a society where most of its decision making force is male dominated. With that, how can you explain to a successful CEO who is doing a great job, that by implementing the most recent technology he/she will wind up with even greater rewards?
3. “My gut feeling”
- In a world ruled by data, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence are helping shape the way we make decisions. By analyzing thousands of data points and predicting most likely outcomes, decision makers are relying less and less on their gut feeling, but more on facts. Help me explain to a successful manager that machines can be trusted when they want to take decisions, and that his/her intuition should be put second to that.
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4. “Uneducated — cheap labor”
- When it comes to looking at the industrial or manufacturing landscape, a lot of the labor force seems to be uneducated or even illiterate. A lot of the workers come from less fortunate countries. But sometimes all it takes to optimize and digitize a process is to arm workers with technology. How can you do that when so many of them cannot read? Cannot write? With that in mind, it seems that it is way cheaper for the employer to keep their uneducated labor than invest in technology. Is it though?
Despite so many being reluctant to change, big companies are starting to understand that the implementation of Artificial Intelligence will be their competitive advantage moving forward. I am very hopeful that if key players in every industry start the adoption of smart technology, then so many others will quickly follow.
With that being said, another problem could perhaps be finding the right people to help you implement the new technology. Is the Middle East missing the talent to do so? We will discuss more of that in the upcoming article.