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ANALYSIS

Manuel Abat

AI can save GCC govts $7bn a year: report

DUBAI, October 21, 2020

The efficiencies generated by artificial intelligence (AI) technology can support Middle Eastern government budgets by up to $7 billion annually, said Oliver Wyman, a global leader in management consulting, in a new report.

Titled “AI for Governments”, the report places the Middle East and Africa (MEA) as the leading region in forecast internet protocol traffic growth with a 41 percent growth rate by 2022. With more data available now than ever, enabling high-impact AI projects has become more achievable.

Manuel Abat, Partner in the Digital and CMT practice at Oliver Wyman, said:“Due to the breadth and depth of data availability across sectors and on the citizen-level, AI and other related technologies have the potential to solve many finance and revenue problems that governments face, while driving impact.”

According to the report, several approaches have been adopted by governments on a global scale that can be implemented and tailored in line with regional visions, government goals and strategic outcomes.

First-class government services

The study highlights that citizens often interact with government agencies to complete day-to-day tasks, typically leading to complaints around speed, quality, and bias. By using AI, governments can personalize such services by leveraging models that optimize for citizen-specific attributes, such as next-best-action (NBA) models embedded in chatbots or virtual assistants.

A good example in the region is the UAE showing interest geared towards the implementation of virtual assistants and which has begun moving government services to digital channels as Dubai launched its AI-backed advisor “Rashid”. The program uses AI to offer official and reliable answers to customers’ questions regarding the necessary procedures, documents, and requirements to conduct various transactions.

Citizen-centric public policies

The report also indicated that governments can leverage AI to shape the content of their policies. For example, the technology can be used to monitor social media responses and local concerns brought on prior to formulating a particular policy. Tracking and analyzing the results can allow government officials to take a reactive response and amend the policies in line with public concerns.

Inventive public servants

AI-enabled technologies can allow for the completion of mechanical tasks quickly and accurately. Embedding the technology into the workforce gives citizens a more convenient experience, while freeing up employees’ time for more impactful work.

Optimal government budgets

Another approach indicated is making use of AI technologies for governments to manage their finances. Public finance management can streamline algorithms to improve revenue collection, optimize budget allocation, detect and reduce financial fraud, and augment government audit capabilities to reduce corruption and avoid wasting taxpayers' money.

“To capitalize on the benefits of AI technology, governments need to take a holistic approach that should incorporate historical learnings, best practice benchmarks, and managerial perspectives,” Abat said.

“Outlining aspirations that the AI technologies will set out to achieve,  prioritizing sectors and issues that should be targeted with the AI technologies, measuring the impact of the projects, enabling success through the capabilities and outlining methods to efficiently manage the AI projects and resources, will allow governments to identify and prioritize AI investments.”

According to the report, designing and implementing an AI roadmap is a priority and is critical in ensuring sustainable and resilient government activities. The report also highlights that the benefits of AI to governments were tangible by the end of 2019 and are now even more pertinent in the context of Covid-19. – TradeArabia News Service




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