Middle East companies ahead in AI and GenAI investment and upskilling

18 January 2024 Consultancy-me.com 3 min. read

Companies in the Middle East are ahead in a number of areas when it comes to AI and GenAI, according to a study from Boston Consulting Group (BCG). The Middle East is leading the way in planning investments in AI in 2024, as well as in training staff in GenAI.

Marked by the launch of ChatGPT at the end of 2022, GenAI tools have exploded in popularity and have become all but essential in many different business applications. While some regions have been making moves to get on the AI bandwagon as soon as possible, others have been holding off – for now, at least.

The Middle East and Asia-Pacific lead a wave of rising investment in tech and AI/GenAI

Source: BCG AI Radar

With 85% of Middle East business leaders surveyed reporting that they would be investing more in technology in 2024 and 93% investing more in AI/Gen AI specifically, the region is ahead of the global average and other regions, including Europe and North America.

When it comes to training workers in GenAI tools, the Middle East is also ahead of the global average by quite a bit. While 6% of respondents overall said that 25% or more of their staff is already trained in GenAI tools, it is 11% of Middle East companies that said the same. That is again ahead of all other region surveyed.

Executives worldwide must boost upskilling, as Europe, Africa, and South America are falling behind.

Source: BCG AI Radar

When forecasting the productivity gains they expect to see in 2024, the Middle East again came out on top. It was 61% of Middle East respondents that said they expect 10% or more in productivity gains this year, as compared with the global average of 46%, with Europe and North and South America below that.

While many companies do appear to want to buck the trend early in order to not miss out on the promising benefits of GenAI, the BCG study also shows that a remarkable 90% of CEOs are actually delaying their investments in the technology until planned legislation takes effect. Some also appear to be waiting until the technology passes the ‘hype phase’.

Whether companies choose to leverage GenAI now or later, nearly three quarters of executives said they anticipated needing “significant change management" within their organizations to onboard new tools. Furthermore, 59% report that their executive team lacks confidence in their proficiency with GenAI, underscoring a lack of readiness in many organizations.

Executives expecting 10% or more productivity gains from AI/GenAI in 2024

Source: BCG AI Radar

“To unlock GenAI’s full potential, executives should deploy it to improve efficiency of everyday tasks, reshape critical functions, and invent new business models,” said Christoph Schweizer, the CEO of Boston Consulting Group.

“Doing so can increase productivity by up to 20%, enhance efficiency and effectiveness by up to 50%, boost revenue, and create long-term competitive advantage.”

As far as the hype around GenAI in the past year or so, there is some concern that those passing themselves off as experts might not be offering as much value as they seem to be. As what happened with the hype around the internet when it was still first emerging in the early 2000s, the fear of a bubble is always present.