More than 2,000 customers, partners and associates, including senior executives from government, retail, real estate, energy and banking sectors, attended the annual Salesforce World Tour Essentials Dubai event held at Madinat Jumeirah Image Credit: Supplied

Forty per cent of UAE workers are already using Generative AI, and nearly 80 per cent believe that AI will bring more productivity to the workplace.

These were among the findings of research done in the region by Salesforce, the global leader in AI Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and highlighted recently at its annual Salesforce World Tour Essentials Dubai event held at Madinat Jumeirah.

This enthusiasm for the latest generation of AI and cloud-based technology was amply evident at the event, which was packed with over 2,000 customers, partners and associates, including senior attendees from government, retail, real estate, energy, and banking sectors in the region.

It’s also clear from the scale of Salesforce’s investments in the region – according to IDC estimates. The company will generate more than $5.1 billion in net new business and create more than 21,800 jobs in the UAE by 2028, fuelled by AI-powered cloud solutions.

“This is a testimony to the importance and visibility of the region to our company,” says Thierry Nicault, Area Vice President, Middle East, Salesforce. “Our team is growing here locally, we are expanding our presence, and there is a huge growth in our ecosystem.”

Image Credit: Supplied

Einstein 1

At the heart of this growth is the newly launched Einstein 1 platform, which embeds Generative AI into workflow processes across all Salesforce applications, including sales, service, marketing, ecommerce and analytics. Data, of course, is at the centre of this revolutionary technology – specifically Data Cloud, a platform that creates a holistic customer view by integrating reams of organisations’ existing, disconnected data, and fuses it with Generative AI to improve both customer engagement and employee productivity.

“Seventy-one per cent of companies in the enterprise space have siloed data, on lots of different systems and models, spread across old and new systems. Einstein 1 allows you to ensure that this data will be actionable in your business,” says Nicault. “The key part is that we’re using Gen AI on your company’s grounded data, which you have built for the past few decades and spent millions to maintain, and not on internet or public domain data.”

The company has agreements with leading data providers such as Snowflake, Google Cloud, AWS, MS Azure, and Databricks to allow such integrations securely. This goldmine of company-specific data combined with Generative AI allows the seamless automation of processes, and the reduction of repetitive tasks which, Salesforce research shows, takes up 62 per cent of employees’ time at present.

“The result is a combination of improved employee productivity and better customer service, bringing a lot of value in terms of the ability to decrease costs while increasing customer satisfaction,” Nicault says.

Making a mark in the Middle East

This increase in efficiency and productivity is the reason for the rapid adoption of such AI and cloud technology in the region, since it matches the UAE’s ‘growth mindset’, explains Nicault.

“The government’s vision to build this country as an economic, tourist and cultural destination is absolutely amazing. Our cloud and AI-powered CRM solutions support this because they are effective across sectors including travel, retail and real estate, and it’s starting to pick up very nicely in healthcare and banking, and the public sector,” he says, adding that local case studies have shown that the platform brings about steady growth without organisations having to increase their workforce thanks to improved productivity.

Need for training

The issue, of course, is that such assimilation of evolving technology can bring with it a skills gap, and according to Salesforce’s research, employers in the UAE have some work to do. Findings show that 52 per cent of workers have not been trained to use Generative AI, and 64 per cent say that employers haven’t set any guidelines for Gen AI usage.

This mismatch between the use of AI and training in AI is among the reasons why Salesforce places such an emphasis on training and education, as demonstrated by its 35 per cent increase in partner certifications and its support for technology skills in the region. “Our job has always been to help democratise technology,” says Nicault. “One way we do that is through our free training website, Trailhead, which allows anybody to learn in-demand skills, earn credentials, and connect to opportunities. The second thing is that we have specific programmes and regular workshops to help our partners up-skill. And thirdly, we are engaging with external organisations and associations such as ArabiaForce Academy, which helps to upskill the Arabic-speaking world.”

It’s also why the company is taking a leadership role in AI through Einstein Trust Layer, a robust set of features and guardrails that protect the privacy and security of organisations’ data, improves the safety and accuracy of their AI results, and promote the responsible use of AI across the Salesforce ecosystem.

“We have taken time to ensure that our Gen AI features and services are accurate and safe to use,” Nicault says. “We may not be seen as the fastest innovator in AI, but we do it fast in the most secure way possible.”