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AI roadmaps at risk: 60% of UAE businesses struggle to deliver analytics ROI due to legacy strategy

Published by UAE Business

New research reveals that, while 79% of UAE organisations invest in analytics ahead of all other technology, historic unsolved challenges mean critical business insights aren’t fully utilised.

Alteryx, Inc. (NYSE: AYX), the Analytics Automation company, has uncovered the core factors blocking organisations from delivering in-demand business intelligence with data analytics. New Alteryx-commissioned IDC research* highlights that – despite businesses needing faster, more accurate insights to navigate competitive markets, businesses are still attempting to meet their future AI analytic goals with legacy strategy.

The research showcases the negative ROI impact of lagging upskilling, democratisation, and accessibility initiatives. When these foundational data pillars are not prioritised, the result is a broken link between in-department expert and analytic-driven insight – one where analytics is limited to those who can code and not the person best placed to answer the question. 

Today, two thirds of UAE organisations say they don’t always trust – and (84%) say they don’t even use – their own analytic insights for decision making. Widening the analytics maturity gap, 60% also report minimal (0% to 5%) financial ROI from their analytics.

Building an AI future – the AI-ttainment Gap:

Highlighting the imminent need for high-ROI business intelligence, 71% say “the business landscape is changing faster than ever before”. To meet this continually shifting landscape head on and deliver valuable insights at scale, 79% now intend to prioritise their analytics investment above all “other technology” in the near future.

By 2027 businesses see a strong need to deliver AI-generated insights, but also face a clear gap between AI automation roadmaps and the foundational pillars needed to deliver:  

  • AI Adoption Today: The vast majority of UAE businesses (70%) say fewer than a third of their decisions are automated using AI/ML technology today. 
  • AI Integration Tomorrow: By 2027, 47% want at least a third of their core business decisions to be driven by AI and automation.

Removing legacy roadblocks and prioritising ROI

While AI-based decision-making is undoubtedly the next step in transformation, the research underlines a hamster wheel-style innovation roadmap – one defined by momentum but lacking progress. The Alteryx-commissioned IDC Infobrief – 4 Ways to Unlock Transformative Business Outcomes from Analytic Investments – highlights the cognitive dissonance separating those who are – and are not – delivering high ROI analytics. 

The research sets out the foundations behind successful analytics programmes – showcasing clear priorities for organisations looking to deliver AI-generated insights by 2027:

  • Democratisation: Three quarters of UAE businesses still rely on manual coding – blocking vital expertise from in-department experts. 
  • Upskilling: 82% do not closely match technology investment with the human upskilling needed to deliver more impactful and timely insights.  
  • Accessibility: Globally, 82% of businesses say their data access policies are, at best, only moderately effective – cementing an over-reliance on data science teams and the inability of users to access data/insights.

Alan Jacobson, Chief Data and Analytics Officer at Alteryx, comments: “Futureproofing business using AI-driven insights needs more consideration than simply investing in new technology. The business appetite for more insights – faster than ever before – requires a whole business shift driven from the top down. The people closest to the problem must be enabled with the tools to deliver these insights and empowered to solve it themselves. 

“The business opportunity from analytics – and by extension AI/ML insights – is huge. Being able to make accurate decisions to quickly meet disruption head on is a goal that businesses have aspired to for centuries. With so much unused data and underutilised talent, combining upskilling, accessibility, and democratisation is the only way these businesses will generate the ROI needed to transform their business with automated AI-based decision-making.”

Karl Crowther, Vice President, MEA, at Alteryx, confirmed: “It’s surprising to see so many businesses still actively using outdated spreadsheets or exclusively relying on those few experts with advanced coding knowledge to deliver insights. 

“The IDC research validates a number of best practice strategies for delivering ROI from analytics. Breaking down silos, developing a data culture that aligns technology spend with upskilling, and ensuring alignment between IT and line of business priorities are the core pillars that will help deliver the turbocharged whole-business insights needed to futureproof operations.”


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