The barometer surveyed over 3,400 business executives in 22 countries, including Saudi Arabia, and figures for the Kingdom were up 11 percent on 2018, the largest rise by any of the countries involved in the study.
The special-edition survey compared results from early 2020 with those of an additional pulse study in September to understand the changes in executives’ views throughout the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Saudi business executives’ faith in the Kingdom’s self-sufficiency and ability to innovate was found to have increased since the start of the pandemic to 62 percent, compared to 58 percent in January 2020.
The majority of Saudi respondents agreed that the long-term societal or environmental benefits of innovation were important, with 66 percent believing that it was more important than short-term profitability.
Saudi companies were three times more likely to have increased innovation budgets, the report said.
The Saudi healthcare sector was singled out, with 81 percent of those quizzed saying the speed with which it adapted to innovation during the pandemic set a great example for others to follow.
Hisham Al-Bahkali, president of GE Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, said: “The progress made in the critical sphere of innovation following the pandemic has served as a catalyst in accelerating innovation in areas such as e-government services and particularly in healthcare.”
The majority (76 percent) of Saudi business executives believed that artificial intelligence, automation, and machine learning would be important to their companies in a post-COVID-19 world.
Also, 47 percent said the advanced technologies would facilitate further innovation, while 53 percent felt they would improve the remote working experience for employees.
Partnerships were highlighted by those questioned as critical to driving innovation, whether it was across countries (86 percent), industries (85 percent), or with governments (84 percent).
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