More than six out of 10 businesses in the GCC are using artificial intelligence (AI) for at least one function in their organisation, with retail companies being the most likely to be using it.

Three quarters, or 75% of respondents in the retail sector said they were using AI already, according to a McKinsey survey, whereas capital projects and infrastructure and financial services have made less progress.

Of those surveyed, 62% of businesses said they are now using AI, on a par with North America, but there is “significant untapped value”, the report on the state of AI in GCC countries said.

Energy and materials companies have been early adopters of AI, McKinsey said, as they operate in an internationally competitive market, and need to increase efficiency in production, distribution and maintenance to compete on a global stage.

Retail companies are using data gathered to gain insights on consumer preferences to inform prices and promotions and have used that data to jump-start AI deployment.

“On the other hand, many companies in the Middle East construction industry either cannot yet collect the data required to train AI models, or do not have the necessary capabilities to stitch what they have together,” the report said.

Construction companies also tend to be smaller, meaning they are not yet using the Internet of Things (IoT) technology which is used to collect data for AI.

Smaller operators in financial services also face the same issue, McKinsey said.

Respondents are most likely to adopt AI in marketing in sales, with 34% saying they were using the technology in that area.

(Writing by Imogen Lillywhite; editing by Daniel Luiz)