The scope for supercomputers in the Gulf is for big oil and gas sectors, for analytics and in universities. There are smaller HPCs for simulations or real-time data from the oil sector and small- and mid-size businesses. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Dubai: UAE and Saudi businesses still don’t seem to have got the hang of data analytics, with many failing to take advantage of their employees’ analytic skills and boost revenues. The way businesses operate now, just 28 per cent of their workers use those highly specialized talent to unlock benefits such as greater efficiency, or revenue growth through creating data models.

All this at a time when data – and its use - has become the single most important asset for businesses to build on. Employees have identified data skills as playing a crucial part in a post-pandemic workplace. Around 83 per cent of workers believe the pandemic has increased the importance of data skills to make business decisions.

“Digital transformation has moved beyond boardroom discussions - It’s now mission-critical for businesses to fully leverage analytics and data science to decipher the massive influx of data developing across lines of business,” said Alan Jacobson, Chief Data and Analytics Officer at Alteryx, the tech firm that commissioned the survey.

Great Data Disconnect
Great Data Disconnect Image Credit: Vijith Pulikkal/Gulf News

Businesses across the Gulf are falling behind due to under-utilising the talent of those in the workforce, the YouGov survey finds. And yet, nearly two-thirds of data workers possess the advanced analytic skills needed to deliver business insights using descriptive (57 per cent), prescriptive (61 per cent) and predictive (60 per cent) analytics.

“Employees with strong data skills are a core requirement for developing business resiliency and the ability to pivot at speed,” said Jacobson. “But to maximize the potential of these workers - facilitating their ability to deliver insights - is the missing link.”

Not up to potential

Even though the majority of data workers (72 per cent) are able to generate additional revenue through data, they are often limited to creating static reports (61 per cent). Just 35 per cent use their skills to create exploratory analyses, and only 37 per cent use data to identify future outcomes based on historical data through predictive analytics.


Around 89 per cent of data workers in the Gulf currently rank their skills as ‘above average’, and report they are given the time (61 per cent) training (60 per cent), and tools (59 per cent) to succeed. “By ensuring that these specialists are empowered to deliver insights across business functions, organizations can thrive in an increasingly data-rich environment,” said the report.

Steps to take

The report has urged businesses to integrate ‘top-down’ thinking to facilitate analytics and reduce the time and investment on basic tasks through automation.

With higher value workers delivering a disproportionately higher return to their employer, there is a significant correlation between an increase in salary and the use of advanced data skills such as identifying risks and developing action plan (56 per cent), and improving decision-making (49 per cent).

“In a region that most would consider data driven, there’s still plenty of room for data strategies to evolve – ensuring that skilled workers can effectively communicate the data-driven insights necessary for company success,” Richard Timperlake, Vice-President - EMEA, at Alteryx, said. “Despite high levels of advanced data skills, businesses across the Gulf risk falling behind due to an inability to utilize this talent.”