Almost every industry is at risk of artificial intelligence (AI) disruption, according to a report by UK-based analytics firm Global Data.

“Over the next five years, business success will rely to a large extent on a company’s decision to make artificial intelligence a core competency… the alternative will be either stagnation or elimination,” the report warns, stating that ongoing research and investment will make today’s existing AI applications look rudimentary and simplistic in 10 years’ time.

AI platfoms, software-based systems that use data inputs to make decisions unaided by humans, are expected to disrupt nearly every vertical industry from automotive, retail, logistics, manufacturing all the way to insurance, consumer or investment banking.

In the Middle East region, AI pilot projects such as voice-enabled customer service agents and robots serving refreshments to customers have been featuring prominently in various technology conferences, highlighting the important role AI is expected to play in the region’s economic future.

The Global Data report cites US-based technology giants Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and IBM as key players in the AI space. However, these incumbents are expected to face an increasing challenge from Chinese technology firms such as Baidu and Alibaba, who have also been investing heavily in AI, and start-ups that focus almost exclusively on AI, like Lemonade and Sentient Technologies.

MEED understands technical stacks enabling AI platforms include machine learning, data science, conversational platforms, computer vision, AI processors, smart robots and context-aware computing.

The report cites a study by Chinese technology giant Tencent that the global AI industry is facing a major talent shortage, where only an estimated 300,000 AI researchers are available to fill a market demand that runs into the millions.

This massive gap is understood to have triggered a major pay rise, with AI specialists with a few years’ experience earning between $500,000 and several million dollars annually.

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