Capitalizing on Artificial Intelligence Opportunities

Sep 02, 20224 mins
Artificial Intelligence

The Journey to Building a World-Class Artificial Intelligence Practice

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Artificial intelligence (AI) has become a hot topic for countries worldwide, and both public- and private-sector organizations have already started leveraging it as a response to continuous digital disruption. According to IDC’s 2022 Artificial Intelligence Spending Guide, global AI spending reached $88.6 billion in 2021, and it is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25.6% over the 2021–2025 period.

Canada, China, and the United States are among the countries in which many organizations began their AI journeys early, supported by government initiatives. Saudi Arabia is no different in terms of its commitment to becoming an AI powerhouse. As an extension of the country’s Vision 2030, the Saudi Data and AI Authority (SDAIA) was established in 2019, followed by the release of the National Strategy for Data and AI in 2020. Given its strong focus on and dedication to fostering an AI ecosystem, Saudi Arabia is poised to see strong growth in overall AI spending, with a CAGR of 29% forecast for the 2021–2025 period that will see the market reach a value of $563 million in 2025.

According to a recent IDC survey of CIOs in the Kingdom, almost half the Saudi organizations that invest in AI technologies prefer to customize off-the-shelf solutions to meet their needs. This suggests an appetite among end users to work with local and global technology solution providers to meet their organizations’ specific business requirements. In terms of in-demand AI applications, more than one-third of Saudi organizations are investing in digital assistants, chatbots, and conversational agents augmented by Arabic language capabilities. Recommendation engines, as well as prediction and forecasting, are other key investment areas that will be leveraged across various vertical markets.

Organizations in Saudi Arabia should approach AI as a strategic initiative rather than as a one-off project so they can drive organization-wide innovation and become AI disruptors. To understand an organization’s AI readiness, five maturity traits of AI disruptors need to be evaluated. These are vision, people, process, technology, and data readiness. Responding to IDC’s recent Saudi Arabia CIO Survey, 35% of organizations said that identifying and hiring talent and the cost of implementation were major challenges. The lack of a centralized strategy and unclear processes, the lack of alignment across business and IT functions, the lack of a single technology architecture and platform were also highlighted as major challenges.

Like all other emerging technologies, AI is also prone to cybersecurity threats. Threat actors and adversaries launch attacks to compromise the confidentiality, availability, and integrity of AI systems. Training data security, algorithm security, trained model security, and platform security, as well as model transparency, ethics, and responsibility, are the key focus areas for building a secure and sustainable AI practice.

SBM has been heavily investing in its emerging technology capabilities and views data and AI as the key enablers of many sophisticated technology use cases and as critical instruments for helping Saudi Arabia to achieve its Vision 2030 goals. SBM has in-house developed solutions and has been a longstanding IBM partner, dating back to 1968. SBM and IBM both possess experienced emerging-technology professionals on the ground in the Kingdom. These capabilities enable them to work closely with customers to deliver customized products and services around Big Data and analytics, AI, automation, data governance and compliance, and security.

SBM will continue to introduce innovative new solutions through its strong partnerships and emerging technology capabilities to meet the requirements of businesses in the Kingdom, thereby contributing to the realization of Saudi Vision 2030.

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