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Ahead of the LEAP 2024 technology conference in Riyadh, Cisco announced the findings of its AI Readiness Index in Saudi Arabia. The index, which surveyed more than 8,000 companies across 30 countries, was developed in response to the accelerated adoption of artificial intelligence. The survey shows that 93 percent of organizations in the Kingdom have an AI strategy in place or under development, while only 8 percent consider themselves fully prepared to deploy and leverage AI.

Improving the efficiency of and increasing productivity was ranked among the top outcomes that companies are looking to drive through adoption of AI, with 47 percent of respondents in Saudi Arabia placing it on top of gains they expect from AI. Opening new revenue streams was the lowest on the list of expectations, as ranked by 30 percent of respondents.

On talent development, 31 percent of Saudi respondents ranked comprehension and proficiency of AI tools and technologies as the primary skill gap. The good news is that organizations are taking steps to address this gap. Among the organizations surveyed in the Kingdom, 82 percent say they are investing in training employees in this area.

On infrastructure readiness, the survey shows that a mere 12 percent of local organizations in the Kingdom have networks that are fully flexible to handle the complexity of AI workloads. Cybersecurity also needs increased focus, as 70 percent of respondents fall short of being “fully equipped” to detect and prevent adversarial attacks on AI models.

Salman Faqeeh, managing director, Cisco Saudi Arabia, said: “Saudi Arabia has made significant strides in recent years to establish itself as a leading player in the field of AI. The Kingdom recognizes the transformative potential of AI and has placed it at the center of its Vision 2030.”

He added: “At Cisco, we believe in the critical role of AI to revolutionize industries and drive innovation, and it has been an important element across our portfolio for over a decade. As the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority is working to implement the National Strategy for Data and AI, the insights from the index can help inform the prioritization across important pillars including strategy, infrastructure, data, governance, talent, and culture.”

This year, Cisco’s participation at LEAP, held from March 4-7, is revolving around the theme of “AI Unleashed: Shaping Sustainable Digital Evolution.” Visitors will be able to engage with subject matter experts at Cisco’s booth and discover demos to harness the power of AI to enable a sustainable, securely connected future.

Reem Asaad, vice president for Cisco Middle East, Türkiye, Africa, Romania, and the Commonwealth of Independent States, said: “Cisco has a long-standing presence in the region, working to advance national digital economies, develop infrastructure, strengthen cybersecurity, and build the region’s talent pool. This year at LEAP, we are excited to demonstrate the power of our portfolio to support our customers and partners in Saudi Arabia and beyond in leveraging our latest technologies to increase efficiencies and drive innovation.”

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