Technological Cunning to Be a New In-Demand Skill in Tech Job Market: Dr. Atif Abbas


How will be the UAE's technological future? How will digitalization open doors for new job opportunities? How can professionals develop their technical skills?

Find answers to all questions that pop into your mind while thinking about digital transformation and Artificial Intelligence from Dr. Atif Abbas, Digital Transformation and AI Consultant and Lecturer, for more than 20 years.

Within each of the UAE's seven Emirates, there are visible implementations of digitalization and transformation. In Dubai, for example, they have Smart Dubai 2021. How do you think this will impact the country's future, and what professionals can adapt to the new norm?

The UAE has put its hand on the key to the digital economy, given its enormous capabilities to harness technology in managing its economy and services. However, it is more accurate to say that the UAE has had this key for 20 years. The country started with the establishment of Dubai Internet City and its subsequent similar projects. It predicted the tremendous impact of technology in shaping the future, and it preceded others in the technological changes in all sectors. The UAE has become a model, a leading country, and a positive digital force that participates in shaping the world's future, not just its future, as evidence that government services in the UAE have been working, during the peak of the pandemic, by 100% efficiency. The first lesson of the crisis was the emergence of the value of digitization to overcome challenges.

As for professionals who can adapt to new rules and standards, digitization processes replace the basic and routine tasks within companies' human cadres, giving those who previously held these tasks the opportunity to refine their skills and develop new skills to take on specialized smart work. In the future, we will witness the emergence and high demand for more new roles such as digital human beings, digital transformation specialists, data analytics specialists, artificial intelligence and machine learning experts, institutional development specialists, big data and information technology specialists, and other professions concerned with continuous development.

On the other hand, I expect other jobs will gradually disappear, which imposes an urgent need for individuals to upgrade their skills. These include data entry personnel, accountants, computer managers, payroll officers, and others.

Artificial Intelligence will boost the global economy by adding $15 trillion by 2030. The scope of AI applications varies depending on the market. Which industries will be significantly impacted, and how this will open the doors for more job opportunities?

The first sector affected will be the auto industry. Many automakers and technology companies are racing to develop artificial intelligence technologies to make the dream of driverless cars come true. A study published by the US Kenneth Agency, market research and forecasting the sizes of various economic sectors, indicates that the share of artificial intelligence in the auto market will reach $ 10 billion by 2025. They suggested that the market growth is primarily due to the high demand for smart cars and the increased concentration of companies Auto industry on enhancing the user experience.

The smart phone industry follows this. Despite the decline in competition in that industry among a limited number of companies, it has excellent financial capabilities that other sectors may not have. Among those companies is Apple, which designs and manufactures consumer electronics and computer software products, and its market value exceeded a trillion dollars in 2018.

This financial abundance will give tech giants the ability to invest continuously in artificial intelligence research and apply new technologies very quickly in their devices. Perhaps the main difference between traditional smartphones and their AI-enabled counterparts is that the latter can learn from their environment, develop their response to user commands, and process data faster over time.

As for job opportunities, artificial intelligence creates new jobs that will remap future careers, as artificial intelligence will bring positive changes that will elevate human life quality. It is expected that future jobs will combine machine and human skills to overcome operational challenges, and it is difficult to determine which jobs will be required after ten years. Initial indications, however, suggest that artificial intelligence systems that are growing at an unprecedented pace will not eliminate jobs, as evidence that this has not yet happened despite the steady growth of artificial intelligence in which investment has been doubled in the last 18 months.

However, according to the results of the future Jobs Report, the top-growing jobs in the future will be divided into 7 groups: artificial intelligence specialists, information scientists, social media assistants, and artificial intelligence systems specialists, and new jobs such as data scientists, data engineers, big data developers, data analysts, analytical specialists, data consultants, Idea analysts, artificial intelligence systems developers, and artificial analysis consultants.

These jobs require a range of skills, foremost among data science and technology, data storage, development and machine learning tools, artificial intelligence, software development life cycle, management development, browser software, digital literacy, computer science, and computer networks. The UAE ranks among the world's best countries that include artificial intelligence jobs, with the UAE registering 78 job opportunities in the field of artificial intelligence from every 10,000 job opportunities that will rise to 123 in 2022.

AI can radically transform economies in the Gulf and the Middle East by developing revolutionary new services and entirely new business models. Where do you see these countries in 5 or 10 years, and how they can make the best use of AI to hone their economies and innovation performance?

The Gulf countries are divided into two "AI" groups. The first group includes countries with already launched ambitious AI strategies and projects and national bodies that plan and implement AI projects and targets and organize databases at the national level and in many sectors. This group includes the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

The second group includes the rest of the Gulf countries that encourage artificial intelligence to develop the production and service sectors. However, they are still in the process of developing a comprehensive national strategy for artificial intelligence. Regardless of the level of effort exerted in this regard, all Gulf countries have a high readiness for artificial intelligence regarding communications infrastructure and service level. This encourages a reconsideration of its objectives and priorities in light of the next phase's parameters.

The Gulf countries also have the same approaches toward harnessing the power of artificial intelligence and data in analyzing national vision, developing development sectors in general, and cognitive, economic transformation in particular.

Despite the importance of the above, the Gulf states should focus on education, health, and cybersecurity in the coming phase. This contributes to the promotion of these subjects, especially as the Corona pandemic revealed the importance of advanced technological solutions to fight epidemics, develop medical services and health care in hospitals, activate distance learning, and raise traditional education quality in educational institutions at all levels.

The Arab Gulf states should do digital identity, enhance cybersecurity, and protect online data, especially as digital transformation, is expected to accelerate in all sectors after the Corona pandemic. Therefore, the next stage should be AI-targeting planning, especially given the shifts in the COVID-19 crisis.

During the Covid-19 era, there are new emerging in-demand skills in the job market, like communication and behavioral skills. What are they, and how can people develop for workplace success and leadership?

The skills required for the job market in light of the pandemic are:

Critical thinking—it helps to analyze situations and find quick, practical solutions.

Technological cunning - this is a new term I use. Companies will require employees with technical skills where artificial intelligence, the Internet, virtual reality, and robots are part of some jobs, whether in a factory or office, so the employee must be aware of these different skills.

Adaptability and flexibility – all businesses face the challenge of keeping pace with the high speed of technological and other changes, meaning that employers need employees with adaptability and new skills in a short time to keep pace with technological development.

Creativity and innovation: While creativity means producing new and unique ideas, innovation is to implement innovation, any introduction of a new idea, solution, process, or product that many companies are always looking for. Businesses are looking for employees who can innovate and create new ideas that help develop the business or organization.

Emotional Intelligence: For a time after Corona, businesses need employees with emotional intelligence, the ability to recognize, control, and express emotions promptly and control the feelings of others.

Digital transformation and personal branding: How can professionals improve their digital presence, communication, and behavioral skills to make their brands more competitive?

Brand owners need to embrace digitalization or gradually lose their prestige into extinction. A digital transformation is no longer an option for the owners of the brands. Instead, it has become an imperative and a pillar of growth and continuity of these brands. Suppose the brand owners do not strive hard to achieve digital transformation. In that case, they will not overcome the escalating obstacles to meet and overcome the needs of customers, not be able to keep up with the new systems, and only witness others' achievements. So, they have to adopt an innovative mindset to prepare for the future. This supports the steps they are taking to allocate specific budgets to seize the opportunity of digital transformation. If they do not hold it, they will soon fall behind in catching up with the digital revolution.

The digital transformation drives brand owners to rethink their cost structure, areas of migration, processes, methods of work, organizational structure, and even to change the roles of some people to make the most of and not risk failure as a result of continuing the business-as-usual approach. Effective management by brand owners and a significant commitment to the digital transformation strategy within their organizations are required.

As a lecturer for more than 20 years, what's your advice to your students to unlock career success in our digital transformation era? 

My advice to my students is to learn that there are eight emerging technologies to know about: 3D printing, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, Plok Shin technology, drones, the Internet of things, robots, and virtual reality. They should also learn these eight technologies through training courses, workshops, and continuous learning.

They should be trained to use computers, manage networks, learn about information rules, and all the information needed to properly function and direct digital management.

Finally, they should seek the leading specialized institutes or training centers in those fields. They should also spread the culture of digitization or digital transformation and their means of use among all society members.