The Fourth Industrial Transformation: Are You Tech Ready?

Did you know that the market for Artificial Intelligence (AI) is growing? The annual global revenue of AI alone will grow from $643.7 million in 2016 to as high as $36.5 billion by 2025!![1]

Here in the UAE, AI and technology are at the forefront of everyone’s minds.

Wrapping up this year’s GITEX Technology week, under the theme of VR and AI, some of the most extraordinary technologies were presented both at the private and public sectors. For example, DEWA has introduced Rammas- a virtual employee that employs artificial intelligence (AI) to answer relevant customer inquiries.

Paving the road for advancement, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid recently launched an artificial intelligence strategy in the United Arab Emirates with the aim to boost performance and the rate at which achievements are being made.  This initiative encourages the investment in AI technologies to create an innovative and highly-productive environment. He also appointed a Minister Of AI, Omar Bin Sultan Al Olama.

Along the same vision, the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) and the Sharjah FDI Office has organized a two-day event, appropriately titled The Fourth Industrial Revolution. The event presents several unique opportunities across various sectors that Sharjah is well positioned to make the most of.

And just this week, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister and the Ruler of Dubai, has announced that the UAE will train 1 million Arab youth in computer coding.

Back to basics: what’s the difference between VR, AR and AI?

Despite the rapid advancement in technologies demonstrated across the country, many of us are still confused about the difference between VR, AR and AI. To set the scene for further discussion, let’s provide a definition for each:

  • Virtual Reality – A computer-generated simulation of a real-life situation. Virtual reality is known to have been used in the Aviation industry to train their employees, especially, for crises situations. On the far consumer end, we can find the gaming industry dominating the VR technology in which players view a simulated 3D world through special goggles.
  • Augmented Reality – A technology that adds elements to a real, existing visual field. Users are also capable of interacting with these computer-generated elements. One of our clients, TAKELEAP, offers a similar solution to DEWA, where employees wear smart helmets for industrial utility usage and guided work instruction. This avoids human errors by identifying dysfunction and providing real time solutions. In addition, it allows users to call remote experts; the experts can see what the user is seeing and accordingly draw virtual diagrams on the vision field.
  • Artificial Intelligence – A report called ‘The future of Artificial Intelligence’ describe AI as the computer’s ability to learn previous data entry and make expert decisions and recommendations in the future. In other words, machines have human-like cognitions. Have you ever been on an ecommerce website, choosing your favorite selection of products to find them the next day in your recommendations list? This is artificial intelligence in action.

Putting things in perspective: How do these technologies change business?

Employing sensory information in our marketing tactics has become a necessity. The latter has started taking shape with the introduction of social media, especially YouTube. Users preferred images over text, but now video has widely taken over. However, audience members are tired of seeing the same type of video content over and over and over again.

The concept of passively watching a video is starting to die out. Now, the retail sector is starting to implement all these extraordinary technologies to enhance the customer experience. Companies like Sephora were not satisfied with all the makeup tutorials all over the internet, so they decided to implement augmented reality technologies to their services. Using the new AR Sephora app, customers can try out makeup items virtually on their faces before purchasing them. Hence, interacting with their screen rather than being a passive viewer.

With that being said, it is obvious that we are approaching a fourth industrial revolution – one that will transform businesses across multiple sectors. Bringing the spotlight back to artificial intelligence, a recent research published by McKinsey Global institute showed that AI early adopters come from the telecom, automotive and financial sectors. The medium AI adopters happen to be retail and media while the late adopters seem to be education, health care, travel and tourism.[2] The same research described the key characteristic of early adopters are larger businesses who are digitally mature and are focusing on growth rather than savings.

In conclusion, technologies that transform our visual field are in the process of dominating multiple sectors. While some maybe laggards, others are certainly early adopters. The United Arab Emirates, with no doubt, is one of the leading smart countries of AR, VR and AI. With initiatives and goals set in place, the way has already been paved for businesses to put on their smart suit on and innovate.