UAE CEOs lead global peers with use of disrupting technologies

Nearly three quarters of UAE bosses are trying new technology such as AI and automation

Artificial intelligence is already playing a key part in everyday life in the Emirates, with its influence only set to grow. AFP  
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Almost 70 per cent of the UAE’s chief executives are disrupting their industries by making significant technological advances in core operations in 2019, compared with 63 per cent globally, according to a survey by the consultancy KPMG.

UAE chief executives are “championing a digital reinvention”, said Nader Haffar, chairman and chief executive of KPMG Lower Gulf. “If they can create an environment where new ideas can be tested and change is encouraged, their organisations stand to benefit tremendously.”

UAE firms are adopting new technologies - such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, machine learning and automation - to ensure they beat global competitors, according to KPMG's 2019 CEO Outlook report published on Monday. Nearly three-fourths of the UAE businesses are trying new AI and automating processes in their businesses while only 31 per cent companies are doing it globally.

UAE public and private sectors are investing massively in technology, with the country's IT market forecast to grow 20 per cent to $6.6 billion by 2021 from $5.5bn in 2018, according to Fitch Solutions.

In the wake of increased technological disruption and adoption, about 57 per cent of UAE chief executives recognise that a strong cyber strategy is critical to building trust with key stakeholders.

The KPMG survey involved interviews with 35 chief executives in the UAE, which were conducted during the first quarter of this year.

Many global and local organisations have recognised that climate change presents one of the biggest challenges today, and chief executives are turning their attention to energy transition and moving away from a reliance on fossil fuels, said the report.

Almost half of the UAE’s top executives say their organisation’s growth will depend on their ability to navigate the shift to a low-carbon, clean-technology economy.

Growing their global footprint is also considered a “key to resilience” or business flexibility, according to the survey. Eight out of ten UAE’s chief executives are actively transforming their leadership teams to build resilience.

About 66 per cent of chief executives said their first priority for geographical expansion over the next three years is emerging markets, compared with the 63 per cent globally.